Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

Oh Brotha. Van Jones, Voice of The "Community," is Back With Some Clarifications [UPDATE]

Van Jones said "we" as a Black community failed to call-out Kanye West for his nonsense. My question is, who is we?

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Van Jones
Van Jones
Photo: Thos Robinson / Stringer (Getty Images)

Updated as of 12/08/2022 at 1:30 p.m. ET 

It’s been a tumultuous the last couple of days for Van Jones, and now he wants to set the record straight.

“If I HAD said Black folks weren’t holding Kanye/Ye accountable, that woulda been a lie—coz zillions of us HAVE condemned Ye. Let’s stick together and get louder vs hate,” tweeted Jones.

Jones’ tweet was in response to a clarification from the journalist who originally posted the quote, who said that Jones “did not apologize for alleged Black silence about Kanye.”

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Ok.... but here’s what Jones actually said:

I’m going to start off with an apology for the silence of my community and for the speech of my profession.

When we were hit as a Black community with appalling anti-Black bigotry and racism that the whole world saw on a video, we expected and insisted that everyone stand and roar back against that hatred, and people did. By the tens of millions, people marched in a pandemic — by the tens of millions — non-black people, to say, “We will not accept this sort of racism, this sort of violence, this sort of hatred on this planet.” People marched by the millions.

And yet, as this wave of hatred has been building against your community, we have rationalized over and over and over again, responding not with a roar, but often with barely a squeak, and sometimes a shrug. As a result, we now have the shock to you, the pain to you, and the humiliation to us of having an African-American icon praising Hitler and Nazis. And we act like we don’t know where the hatred came from.

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Now to me it does sound like he’s apologizing for the Black community’s silence. But also I’m not in Jones’ head so who knows.

He goes on in his speech to say:

And I want to say very clearly: When it was a drip, we did not turn it off. And now it is a flood. And I want to say to you, I apologize for the silence of my community. The silence is over. And I want to say to Kanye, who I know: Ye, nay! Ye, nay! Ye, nay! Ye, nay! No more, no more, no more.

Van Jones is no stranger to lobbing out “controversial” opinions. But his latest statement really had me doing a double-take. Apparently, it’s our fault Kanye West is a raging antisemite.

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The whole thing does read an awful lot like someone apologizing for the Black community’s silence on anti-semitism. Especially because he specifically references “the Black community.”

Now, I must have missed the meeting where we all came together on Black Twitter and elected Jones the representative of the “community.” But, I kind of think I’d remember making the man who said we don’t give Donald Trump “enough credit” for his love of Black people, supreme leader.

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In all fairness to Jones who is having one of the more confusing walk-backs of the week, he did point out later in his speech that there has been an “awakening” in the community.

You have awoken in this community a determination to stand up for what’s right. And I apologize it’s been this long in coming. You’re going to see a change going forward. You’re seeing it already — the fight back now happening in the Black community against anti-Jewish bigotry, the pride that people have in standing up against this anti-Jewish bigotry in our community. But I owe you an apology before I say anything else.

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But let’s be real the idea that Black folks haven’t had this mans number since he started doing the “slavery is a choice thing,” is untrue.

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It also feels weird to act like all of a sudden Black people decided to do the right thing for once as if we haven’t been marching against oppression for decades.

There are certainly issues within the community that we can and should talk about within the community. People like Kanye West who spout horrendous antisemitic commentary are obviously fair game. But saying Black Americans, in-particular, need to be the fall guys for rising antisemitism is a-historical.

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Breaking news here, but Black people are not exactly the primary recruits for neo-nazis.

Pitting oppressed groups against each other is a classic tool of white supremacy.

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If you make Black people primarily responsible for antisemitism, you don’t have to deal with its deep roots in mainstream culture. You don’t have to deal with Tucker Carlson peddling racist and antisemitic great-replacement theory rhetoric to millions of people every day. You don’t have to deal with the creeping rise of fascism in the United States and Europe. And you don’t have to deal with people like Alex Jones who continue to platform blatant white supremacist talking points.

White supremacy is a threat that impacts all oppressed peoples, and we should take it seriously. But trying to make the victims of white supremacy fight like crabs in a barrel does nothing to make the situation better.

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So to Van Jones, I get what you were trying to do. But maybe reconsider it the next time you want to throw the “community” under the bus.