#BlackAF Has A Jewish Problem

(L to R): KENYA BARRIS as KENYA BARRIS, RASHIDA JONES as JOYA, and GIL OZERI as DANNY in episode 1 of #BLACKAF. COURTESY OF NETFLIX/NETFLIX © 2020

One of the most notable problems that comes with the series premiere of #BlackAF is that the series has a major Jewish problem.

The problem with the series premiere comes late in the episode–just around the 7:38 mark.  It’s when Kenya and Joya Barris (Kenya Barris and Rashida Jones) are having a conversation with Kenya’s assistant, Danny (Gil Ozeri).  At first, the conversation deals with sweatsuits and then it evolves Kenya pointing out to his assistant that his clothing is”fresh off the boat, New Balance-wearing…white gaze.”

Danny makes the comment that “technically, Jews are not white” after Kenya points out that the “white gaze” comment.  Kenya immediately retorts “You are as white as fuck. If some shit went down, you’re white.”  Danny comments back that there are ports in Belgium that he can’t go to.

Can we please stop with the Jews are white nonsense?  Please?!?  Let me tell you something.  If Jews are white, how come I can’t go to the anti-Semitic country club that’s directly across from the JCC where I grew up?  But that’s beside the point, the point of view from Kenya Barris’ fictionalized character erases the fact that there are Jews of Color.  Trust me–I have cousins that fall under this category.  I have friends who are Jews of Color.  I’ve also interviewed filmmakers that are Jews of Color.  For the love of everything holy, can we please stop erasing Jews of Color.  It’s not right when anybody does this–and yes, this also includes the fringe anti-Zionist Jewish organizations in existence.

If they had gone with the argument that a majority of Jews benefit from privilege due to white-passing, this wouldn’t be a major problem.  But because they went with the Jews are white point of view, it’s a problem.  In doing so, Jews of Color get erased and that’s not fine at all.

What makes this commentary even more upsetting is that Rashida Jones is a series regular and her own mother, Peggy Lipton, was Jewish.  I should disclaim right now that both Lipton and Jones are distant cousins of mine according to a family genealogist.

Maybe #BlackAF is a good show but I don’t know and since they decided to ignore the existence of Jews of Color, I won’t continue watching.

#BlackAF is now streaming on Netflix.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.