Description: Kanye West’s recent appearances in the media are the most recent manifestation of a sharp rise in both anti-Blackness and antisemitism in popular discourse. Often, when these forms of bigotry are put into dialogue, they are pitted against each other as irreducible expressions of discrimination. But this panel will invite speakers to explore the connections between anti-Blackness and antisemitism, as well as what is distinctive in the contemporary moment in which they are linked together. The purpose of this panel is to unpack and contextualize anti-Blackness and antisemitism in popular discourse. Topics may include celebrity, social media and race; historical relationships between Black and Jewish people in the United States; the different ways that anti-Black and antisemitic beliefs become linked in contemporary ideology (e.g., “Great Replacement Theory”) and the ways in which they are distinct; and what possibilities exist in culture and scholarship to resist and dismantle both of these bigotries.
Introduction by: Provost Linda Bell
Moderated by: VP Jennifer Rosales
Westenley Alcenat is an Assistant Professor of History at Fordham University with faculty affiliations in the African & African-American Studies Dept. and the Urban & American Studies Programs, The Chapin School. Professor Alcenat is a historian of the 19th century U.S and Caribbean. His scholarship covers the shared histories of African-Americans and Afro-Caribbean peoples in connection with the wider African Diaspora in the Atlantic World. His manuscript in revision, “Children of Africa, Shall be Haytians”: Prince Saunders, Black Emigration to Haiti, and the Radical Origins of Universal Citizenship, 1791-1866 is a study of the Haitian and Black American origins of universalist conceptions of Black citizenship in the Atlantic world. Professor Alcenat is also a Columbia alum.
Racquel Gates is an Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at Columbia University. Her research focuses on blackness and popular culture, with special attention to discourses of taste and quality. She is the author of Double Negative: The Black Image and Popular Culture (Duke, 2018), and is currently working on her second book, titled Hollywood Style and the Invention of Blackness. In 2020, she was named an Academy Film Scholar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum ’81 serves as spiritual leader of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City. She was installed as CBST’s first rabbi in 1992, arriving at the height of the AIDS crisis when the synagogue was in desperate need of pastoral care and spiritual leadership. She guided the congregation through a period of loss and change, while addressing social issues of the day and building a strong and deeply spiritual community. Under her leadership as Senior Rabbi, CBST has become a powerful voice in the movement for equality and justice for people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions and a significant force challenging the radical right’s dominance over religious and political life in the United States and around the world. Rabbi Kleinbaum has long been involved in the fight for human rights for all people. For many years, Rabbi Kleinbaum has been ranked by Newsweek among the 50 most influential rabbis in America. Rabbi Kleinbaum was appointed by President Biden as a Commissioner to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Rabbi Kleinbaum is a Commissioner on New York City's Commission on Human Rights, and serves on Mayor Eric Adam’s Faith Based Advisory Council.
Magda Teter is Professor of History and the Shvidler Chair of Judaic Studies at Fordham University. She is the author of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland (2005), Sinners on Trial (2011), Blood Libel (2020), and of dozens of articles in English, Hebrew, Italian, and Polish. Her book Blood Libel won the 2020 National Jewish Book Award, The George L. Mosse Prize from the American Historical Association, and the Ronald Bainton Prize from the Sixteenth Century Society. Her new book Christian Supremacy: Reckoning with the Roots of Antisemitism and Racism is forthcoming from Princeton University Press in May 2023. Teter has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, HF Guggenheim Foundation, Radcliffe Institute, the Cullman Center at the NYPL, the NEH, and others. She is currently the President of the American Academy of Jewish Research. Professor Teter is also a Columbia alum.