Jewish and Black Grandmas Team Up for a Candid Conversation on Race

Three Jewish bubbies and African American Grannies teamed up for a moving episode of the matchmaking series "Bubbies Know Best."
June 11, 2020

The Jewish Life Television series “Bubbies Know Best,” where Jewish grandmothers set up singles, paused matchmaking to invite three black grandmothers to discuss how Jewish and Black people can build and strengthen their alliances as the floodgates on discussing racism have opened.

Joining the normal cast of Bubbies Bunny, Linda and SJ were Granny Angelle (Reverend Doctor Angelle Jones), Granny Beverly (Beverly Daniels) and Granny Dolores (Dolores Petersen). 

The stage for an open and moving conversation was set by Reverend Anthony A. Johnson, a black reverend whose grandfather marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and who recently published a commentary on how white Jews can support black people in this historic moment.

“The black church is the salvation of Judaism,” Johnson said, quoting Heschel. “We have the same Pharaoh in common, which is white racism.”

The conversation kicked off with the debate of whether Jews are white.

“One of the main petitions I make clear in my article is for all Jews — if you’re Mizrahi, Ashkenazi, or Sephardic — whatever you are…to understand and embrace your history as people of color. You’re not white,” Johnson said.

The conversation then turned to the grandmothers and their history in the civil rights movement. Bubbie Bunny was one of the original dancers on American Bandstand with Dick Clark who helped to integrate the series. Meanwhile, Bubbie Linda grew up in segregated Florida.

The women discussed the recent Black Lives Matter protests, offering maternal guidance to those on the frontlines. They also drew parallels between how Jewish mothers have to tell their children about the realities of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust and how black mothers have to educate their children on police brutality.

“I realize as African Americans we have a very similar experience. You can compare slavery to the Holocaust,” Granny Angelle said. “However, our talk doesn’t consist of us discussing slavery. Unfortunately, our children do not even, a lot of times, hear about slavery, not even in school. So our talk consists of survival. How do you navigate systemic racism?”

She noted that especially when black teens start to drive, they must be warned about potential danger and targeting from the police.

“My granddaughter is 14 and she is eligible for a learner’s permit in November and she commented just the other day that in light of all these events, she might not even want a driver’s license,” Granny Beverly added.

The conversation closed with the Grannies advising the Bubbies how non-black Jews can be allies to Black Americans.

“We’re looking for a real ally, someone who is willing to sacrifice their own friends or sometimes families because you choose to speak up,” Granny Angelle said. “There’s a cost for speaking up. There is a cost for African-Americans. There’s going to be a cost for our allies, even more so.”

But for Granny Dolores, the work is more simple: “How can the Bubbies help?” she asked. “The Bubbies can invite me to their next Passover seder.” 

You can watch the full episode here:

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

From a Jewish Nightmare to an American Dream

But in the spirit of resilience, I’d like to suggest that we dare add something more hopeful to our Seders this year, something more American, something about transforming nightmares into dreams

Six Months

Six months of feeling united as Jews, no matter our backgrounds or religious affiliation.

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.