Let’s create the MOBJOs

Wiley aka Richard Cowie Jnr. (Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire via Jewish News)
Wiley aka Richard Cowie Jnr. (Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire via Jewish News)

No more wiles from Wiley, then. Or so we thought. Until The Voice gave his incitement fresh impetus. The takeout from the piece? Jews are The System. Jews are the music business. Jews treat black music talent like slaves.

I should be such a slave. The chains they wear are not exactly the type Spartacus wore.

Whilst The Voice’s piece is infantile, let’s not seek more banning orders. Let’s talk to them like the mature, reasonable people they wish to be seen as. Let’s explain to them why their incitement to Jewish race hate is not just repugnant but crassly, absurdly and embarrassingly ignorant. That it reflects worse on them than on the Jewish community.

In our hurt and anger, there needs to be strategic substance. History. Facts. Critical thinking. In other words, Education — the thing we prize so highly. The thing which Conservative mayoral candidate for London Shaun Bailey once told me he admired about the Jewish community and that he wished his own community had more of.

Let’s start now. I have an idea…

The MOBOs (Music of Black Origin awards) seem a bit past their sell-by date as a positive dis- crimination concept. How about adding a leVer and create the ‘MOBJOs’ — a celebration of Music of Black & Jewish Origin?

It would celebrate collaborations past and present. The fusion of Jewish melody with African American rhythm and groove to create Jazz. The teaming up of Jewish composers and Black per- formers to give us numerous Broadway hits; the world’s first opera about African Americans (Porgy & Bess) and a vast catalogue of Soul and Motown music. Without the fusion of what Norman Lebrecht called “the minor keys of Synagogue tunes with the African-American blues of the Deep South”, we would not even have the modern pop song.

Let’s go further and tackle today’s bones of contention. Wiley’s hatefest was presumably sparked by a tiff with his Jewish management team. DiVo the tweets of US rapper Icecube last year. It comes from the same visceral resentment expressed by the BBC Radio 1 presenter Reggie Yates in 201ti, with his notorious comment about “fat Jewish managers from North West London”. Yates apologised. But as with Wiley, the myths themselves remain unchallenged. And with the The Voice’s additional smear, they’re escalating.

If we skip for a moment past the male-only sexism of Grime music and some of its dubiously violent associations, it speaks to inner city deprivation and marginalisation. But how silly to blame an entire particular community for that. Why not pick on the Polish community in Britain? Or the homeless community? Or middle aged men in lycra? Or urban foxes? Given the apparent politics of Grime, maybe it’s unsurprising that #Grime4Corbyn was a real trend three or so years ago. Need I say more about where Wiley’s views about Jewish people may have been bred?

Call me naive but I was shocked by Black Lives MaVer UK. It is an ugly and depressing indicator of the Black-Jewish relationship in this country. Any young Black British person who thinks “Jewish Privilege” is a thing is plain ignorant. Wherever Jewish success has come, it has been earned. All we have been ‘given’ is grief. The grief of exclusion, abuse, expulsion and genocide.

In conclusion, how can it be that the sufferers of the two most systemic and enduring race hates in Western society – against Blacks and Jews – have come to be pitted against each other? How can we have let it come to this? How can the Jewish struggle to sweep Nelson Mandela to power and to support the US Civil Rights movement in the USA be forgotten inside a generation or two? How can the music business forget that it was a Jewish performer, Al Jolson, who at the height of discrimination against African Americans, was the only man in the USA to insist they got paid the same as their white co-performers? And let’s not forget a final piece of shared his- tory. The Third Reich wished to ban jazz. They called it “Negermusik” music belonging to a ‘race’ they called ‘inferior’.

Maybe the MOBJOs could begin the process of dismantling the insane beliefs that have crept into the minds of some black musicians and commentators. There is an entire education pro- gramme to be created off the back of it:

  1. Busting the myths about Jewish people in black musicians’ minds
  2. Busting the myths about black people in Jewish peoples’ minds
  3. Celebrating each other’s differences

Maybe you’ll develop it with us, Wiley. Maybe you could become MC Myth Busta?

Record label Big Dada too. It said it would donate their Wiley royalties to antisemitism causes. Well, maybe you could put them towards setting the MOBJOs. I also invite Wiley’s ex-manager, John Woolf, to get involved.

Last but most — I urge The Voice to step forward and be part of the solution. Just think what you could achieve by partnering The Jewish News to bring our two communities together to support the MOBJOs.

Let’s do something great together.

About the Author
Marc Cave is Chief Executive of the National Holocaust Centre & Museum in Nottingham, UK