NEW YORK (Jan. 1)
Negroes in both the North and South–despite past tensions and the threat of future ones–have a “new, more positive appreciation” of Jews in general and particularly of the role played by American Jews in common efforts for better human relations, two leading Negro authorities said today.
James H. Robinson and Kenneth B. Clark, in analyses prepared for the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, established that Southern Negroes “are not permitting themselves the luxury or the diversion of anti-Semitism” in their present struggles. Both men agree that Southern Negroes generally understand that the Southern Jew, in the desegregation crisis is placed in a delicate position in his community and is exposed to “subtle pressures and threats of the more vocal, aggressive segregationist groups.”
Dr. Clark, associate professor of psychology at the College of the City of New York and director of research at the Northside Center for Child Development, finds that Negro Jewish relationships are now in a stage of “positive” transition. “The most obvious forms of verbal anti-Semitism among Negroes, common 15 years ago, seem to have been substantially ameliorated. Today, there seems to be less venom associated with such phrases as ‘Jewish landlord, a term which is almost part of the Negro’s folk language.
“Probably the general progress of the Negro in recent years has reduced some of his random hostility which once had taken anti-Semitism as a form of expression,” Dr. Clark adds. He says that the relationship between Jews and Negroes is “in many ways more complex, if not more subtle, in the North than in the South.” Like Dr. Robinson, he notes that “Jewish property owners–with few exceptions–seem no more willing to jeopardize their investment or the status appeal of their properties by renting to Negroes.” He concludes that “personal status needs and conformity pressures — as they operate to perpetuate the racial status quo–appear no less imperative for Jews than for other Americans.”
NEGROES REPORTED EXPECTING MORE FROM JEWS THAN FROM OTHER WHITES
“Negroes seem to be more sensitive to racial insults and injustices when the source is Jewish,” Dr. Clark says. “In general, they seem to expect more from Jews than from other whites. This in itself is evidence of the positive change in post-war attitudes toward Jews.” He finds that Jews themselves “have contributed to the positive change by the involvement of some Jewish organizations in the struggle for human rights for all, the contributions of Jewish philanthropists to Negro organizations and causes, and by the effectiveness of Jews, as individuals and in organizations, in helping to educate the American public on the general dangers inherent in racism.”
Dr. Robinson, pastor of the Church of the Master and director of the Morning side Community Center in Harlem, warns that it is likely that “tensions in race relations in America will become worse before they become better. ” Noting that Negro anti-Semitism differs from most other types since it is based upon suspicion, not hate, he says that “the possibilities of conflict between Negroes and Jews will become potentially greater as the non-white exceeds the white population in the urban center or the east and north central states.”
He also found “intensified feeling against Jews” in the North stemming from the problem of segregated housing, “the basic and crucial area of all racial problems. ” “There is increased feeling of bitterness over the fact that Jews in better neighborhoods and suburban areas are often as hostile as other whites when Negroes attempt to move into a community. On the other hand, this feeling is almost always accompanied by an expression of gratitude that more support, however small, for integrated housing comes from Jews than from Gentiles, ” he said.