NYU Black Renaissance Noire Fall 2013 - Page 64

PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK WILSON. Jeff Zucker, The American Streicher? 62 I hadn’t thought of making connections between the situation of Jewish males in Nazi Germany and American black men until I heard a lecture in the late 1980s from the San Francisco Holocaust Museum, where it was explained that Jewish males were depicted in the Nazi media in a manner similar to how black men in the United States are shown. This lecture was a major influence on the writing of my novel, Reckless Eyeballing. BRN-FALL-2013.indb 62 By ISHMAEL REED When on “The Today Show,” I compared the film, The Color Purple with the kind of film that the Nazis used to make about the Jews, I got a stony glare from “The Today Show” interviewer, Tennessee born John Palmer. (Alice Walker was also offended by the film1). He suggested that the film was valid because it gave black actors jobs. I further angered him when I answered that some Jews provided entertainment for the Nazi Olympics2 to show that those who are victims cooperate with their oppression, often. Some black actors might strike left wing postures off screen, but obviously they haven’t done much to reform Jim Crow Hollywood, which is still ruled by over fifty-year-old white men. To challenge this situation is to be regarded as “difficult” and black listed like Lou Gossett.3 I examined some of this material and found that both male groups were shown as sexual predators and threats to white women (Though none of the cartoons or film that I examined showed Jewish men committing incest, which is the big money making trend in the United States where in books and film black men are shown committing this taboo. Not even the Nazis would go there!) The Jewish male as a rapist of “Aryan” women was used by publications like Julius Streicher’s Der Sturmer and Joseph Goebbels’s Der Angriff to rile up hatred among the German masses against the Jews and one film “Jud Suss”about the rape of an Aryan woman by a Jew was shown to German troops before they went into battle. I was supposed to appear on the show to promote my book, Reckless Eyeballing at the request of Bryant Gumbel who at the time was a host, but he was away when I appeared. A black woman called from “The Today Show” on the weekend before my appearance and asked me to comment on the film The Color Purple. I said o.k., but when I arrived at the studio, they’d sprung Clarence Page as a surprise-debating partner. This was a setup because the whole segment in which we appeared was about this miserable film product from Steven Spielberg. My novel wasn’t even mentioned and when I complained to a black member of the staff, a woman said that they hadn’t guaranteed that they’d mention my novel, which was the reason for my appearance in the first place. 9/13/13 12:48 AM