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October 08, 1993 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-10-08

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Surveying Our Neighbors


Nearly Half Of MI
Respondents Live
In Neighborhoods
They Believe
Are At Least
50% Jewish.

Nearly Two-Thirds
Of Respondents
From West Bloomfield
and Farmington Hills
Believe They Live
In Neighborhoods
That Are At Least
50% Jewish.

Nearly Half Of
Respondents From
Southfield Believe
They Live In
That Are At Least
50% Jewish.


Arthur Johnson

Jews and Blacks As Neighbors

and we have to arrest the
sprawl that c.haracterizes it-
self around Detroit. Unless
we do this, there won't be
much point in talking about
these relationships?
Robert Willis, past presi-
dent and co-founder of the
Southern Oakland County

"We have
two communities
with similar
histories going
in different

NAACP, used what he called
the common enemy theory to
describe the nature of black
and Jewish relationships.
"We have two communities
with similar histories going
in different directions," he
said. 'Unless there is direct
intervention, we're going to
continue to go in different di-
rections. If we had a common
enemy we would find com-
mon ground."
Black community mem-
bers feel poor race relations
stem from the fact Jews and
blacks tend not to live in the
same neighborhoods.
"Today, the Jewish popu-
lation is far removed in phys-
ical terms from the city and
we are all paying a price," Dr.

Johnson said. "A heavy price
in terms of black and Jewish
relations and we're missing
the closeness that was the
mark of the relationship in
the past?
What has kept the battle-
field from being heated is the
distance blacks and Jews
have put between them-
selves. Once there is the pos-
sibility of getting together,
there is flight, Mr. Willis
Greg Thrasher, president
of Plain Ideas, a black think
tank in Southfield, does not
think this is a black/Jewish
issue. "There is no discrimi-
nation. We don't think of peo-
ple as Jews; we think of them
as whites," he said.
Black community mem-
bers also said Jews and
blacks had closer ties during
the civil rights movement.
For a variety of reasons over
the years, however, those ties
have faded.
Some of those reasons in-
clude disagreements over af-
firmative action and quotas,
ties between Israel and
South Africa, and more lo-
cally, Jewish residential and
business flight from the in-
ner city.
Both black and Jewish
leaders acknowledge that
their young adults have lit-
tle or no knowledge of the
life-and-death role Jews
played in forwarding the civ-
il rights movement of the

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