Jazz musician Louis Armstrong, whose birthday is this month, enjoyed a special relationship with the Karnofskys, a Jewish family in New Orleans. The friendship with his employers explains why the legendary musician spoke Yiddish, loved matzah, and wore a Star of David around his neck.
Being so close to a Jewish family, Armstrong also witnessed anti-semitism first-hand. “I was only seven years old, but I could easily see the ungodly treatment that the white folks were handing the poor Jewish family whom I worked for,” he wrote.
My days are long and sometimes I don’t know where to begin writing. Recently in the Jewish world there has been a colorism conversation that has everybody trying to understand each other. We all have different experiences, and especially in America, we are all in boxes and categories. Jews and African Americans stand together throughout American history, and I love to see the connection and understanding that we both face discrimination daily.
I have a lot more to say, but I have to do my research. In Europe we are Jews, we are not white. In America some Jews are light and some are dark, I have always passed for everything other than white. I love these conversations, and I think that is the key, to keep having them.
Let’s keep talking, I want to understand you, and I will keep trying to explain Jews.