Professor Dollinger: 'BlacKkKlansman' Recalls the Possibilities of a Black-Jewish Alliance

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Photo of Adam Driver and John David Washington in BlacKkKlansman

JEWISH TELEGRAPHIC AGENCY -- Marc Dollinger holds the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University and is author, most recently, of Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing The Alliance In The 1960s. He wrote this opinion piece for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“In a break from the classic interracial motif of more-powerful Jews helping less-powerful blacks, BlacKkKlansman places Jewish detective Zimmerman, as well as the other white police officers in his unit, in supporting roles,” Dollinger writes. “Stallworth, acknowledging white privilege as he impersonates Zimmerman’s voice in telephone calls with the KKK, lobbies his Jewish colleague to impersonate him in face-to-face meetings with Klansmen.

“By redefining the black-Jewish relationship in this more Afrocentric way, Lee corrects a historical literature that all too often marginalized African-Americans in their own social justice movement. He takes an approach similar to Selma director Ava DuVernay, who was unfairly criticized by many Jewish viewers when she did not include an iconic image of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in her movie.”

Photo: Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) and Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) in BlacKkKlansman. Photo courtesy of Focus Features.