Gibson’s Links Black People to Anti-Semitism

To the Editors:

As the founding fathers of Oberlin College and Arthur Tappan, whose name Tappan Square bears because of his much-needed financial support of the College, would have wanted, Oberlin remains America’s most luminous beacon for a more just, peaceful, and humane world. As much as the Founding Fathers of our nation will always have our admiration, they showed a serious human weakness in their subjugation of women and willingness to enslave Blacks.

As women throughout America need us all to step up to fight against sexism, so do Blacks need all Americans to help us fight against racism. But the middle-aged white men who feel hurt and abandoned — a disproportionate number of whom commit suicide — also need our full support. There is hardly an American who does not need our united support.

It is not hard to understand that we are all fallible and guilty of sin and mistakes; we must rise energetically to resume our struggle toward our noble goals and we must know and accept that we will never stop making errors. We always need to ask for forgiveness and be willing to forgive others.

For these reasons, Gibson’s should consider settling its lawsuit against the College out of court. Whatever the merits of the suit, the case is weakened by Gibson’s insinuation within the suit that Blacks are anti-Semitic and that the College does not aggressively condemn hatred, even though it did fire a young Black female professor, some of whose internet posts were judged as anti-Semitic by many Jews and others.

I did not know that professor, nor have I spoken to any students about these matters. My observations are based solely upon the town newspaper’s account of Gibson’s lawsuit. Still, I am troubled that a broad brush is being used — intentionally or unwittingly — to paint some Blacks at the College and town in an unacceptable manner. If we have a modicum of morality or interest in fairness at this juncture, we must use it in our prayers for an out-of-court settlement or hopes that there is a disinterested jury or judge in Lorain County.

Gibson’s seeds of racial invidiousness need not be planted publicly if the two sides resolve everything privately, in spite of what either might have to concede. Everything must be done to attenuate Gibson’s inflammatory conflation of Blacks and anti-Semitism, preventing the growth of roots of dissension, misunderstanding, and pain so tough that it will take a century or more to extirpate them. Throughout my lifetime, I have observed that Jews have been Blacks’ staunchest allies and we theirs. That bond is an eternal one, with all Blacks I know desiring to establish similar bonds with all whites and others too, never mind how much we differ on how to grow our one common humanity.

Celebrate this day.

Booker C. Peek
Emeritus Associate Professor of Africana Studies