When a Negro sings “hi-di-hi” it’s not news. At least it’s not news in Harlem. But when the dusky, happy-go-lucky denizens of Africa in Manhattan start stamping to the tunes of the Horst Wessel Lied, that’s news or the Day Booker doesn’t know his Dana.
Yeah, man, and a couple of yowsah’s, Hitler has come to Harlem. The town’s one hot spot that never cools, come Democrats, Republicans or Fusionists, seems to be on the verge of an anti-Semitic upsurge.
Perhaps a trifle jealous of the gobs of publicity that its neighbor Yorkville has been achieving with its Hitlerist activities, Harlem apparently has decided to horn in on the anti-Semitism racket.
It seems there are a number of Jewish merchants in Harlem. And there’s a dark-skinned man by the name of Abdul Hamid, believe it or not, who doesn’t like the way these merchants are treating members of his race.
Abdul, who is reputed to be a Moslem by religion if he is a Negro by race, must read the newspapers. He may even read the Jewish Daily Bulletin, so he has heard about Herr Hitler and what a great stir he has created in the world by persecuting the Jews. And Abdul is a man of action. So what does a man of action do these days? He organizes himself a gang. Only he doesn’t call it a gang.
Hitler doesn’t call his outfit a gang, even if the rest of the world does. Sir Oswald Mosley over in Lunnon doesn’t call his bunch a gang, even if the rest of the world insists it is nothing else but. In one case they’re Brown Shirts. In the other case, they’re Black Shirts.
But for poor Abdul, it seems that there are precious few shirt colors left to choose from. So with customary love for high sounding phrases, he organizes a more or less shirtless movement called the Negro Industrial Clerical Alliance.
The Negro Industrial Clerical Alliance, or Nica for short, has already swung into action. Although the true story is still veiled by dark Harlem clouds, it appears that Abdul and his Nicas have been traveling around and putting the fear of Hamid into the Jewish merchants of the neighborhood.
“You’re discriminatin’ against Negroes,” Abdul is reported to be informing the merchants. “Quit it, or else….”
Perhaps Abdul has never heard that others than Jews refuse to employ Negroes in the liberal North.
But waging a war against all the whites in New York who abuse the Negro would be an undertaking suitable only for a Negro Napoleon. And Abdul, at least at the present moment, seems intent only on filling the shoes of a Fuehrer.
Hamid, it is not surprising to note, has nothing against the Jews personally. Some of his best friends are Jews.
But, if a stenographer employed by the Anti-Nazi Minute Men of America is to be credited, some of the black Fuehrer’s public utterances strangely belie his protestations of friendship.
“Hitler don’t want the damn Jews in Germany. We don’t want them in Harlem. We will run them out of Harlem like Hitler is running them out of Germany, and if it’s war they want, they’ll get it.”
Nice, friendly words. They’re reminiscent of Goering at his mildest. But Abdul didn’t say them, he swears.
Maybe the stenog employed by the anti-Nazis was wrong at that. Maybe Abdul was merely saying his prayers in public. Maybe it’s all just a plot of the Jews to overthrow Harlem, to chase the Negro cabarets out of the section and supplant them with delicatessen shops and knishes plants.
There’s one radical point of difference, however, between the Nicas and the Nazis. The Nazis say to the Jews Scram, you’re not like us. We’re “Aryans” and you’re something entirely different. The Nicas say: Scram, you’re one of us. You’re no more white than we are.
Hamid, like Hitler, has a racial theory for the Jews. But, unlike Hitler, he’s trying to prove that the Jews are descended from the same race he is. It won’t be long before Hamid will be employing a few college professors to formulate his ethnological ideas in scientific phraseology that will go big with Harlem.
But before Hamid can expect to attain a really important following in Harlem, he’d better emulate Hitler a bit more closely. He’ll have to supply his Nica boys with resplendent uniforms. Wrap ’em up in gold braid, gaudy epaulets and big brass buttons, Hamid, and you’ll become Harlem’s Hitler for fair. Yowsah!
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.