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Katherine Wilk

Larry J. Tish and Ronnie Jones

As students shuffled into the Bonnie Hurlburt Student Center auditorium Tuesday, Feb. 23, they spoke to themselves softly in anticipation of the two-hour show to come. Attendees were warned to turn off all cell phones, beepers and most importantly, prejudices. Any one of these intrusions were sure to provoke a response from Radford University visitors, Ron Jones and Larry J. Tish.

The two-man show, The Black Jew Dialogues, tackled the issues of prejudice and racism of the past and today. They made their point in costumes ranging from suit jackets depicting the bar mitzvah of Tish to old lady suits demonstrating older beliefs. They also made use of simple props. The duo portrayed the overwhelming negativity that clings to African American and Jewish cultures in America.

“I feel like I don’t have a good sense of what Jewish people fear,” Jones said, encouraging conversation.

Tish described his culture with the word ‘pressure’. He told his friend that Jewish people always answer questions with questions and are constantly plagued by guilt, commenting that they’ve, “earned the right to make jokes about life.”

As they switched roles, filling each other in on their daily life burdens, Jones gave listeners a deeper perspective of the strain on African Americans.

“Imagine that the very sight of you draws up negative images of who you are and what you’re capable of,” Jones said.

Jones shared his real-life experiences with prejudices after racial remarks were made by a group of white roommates that caused him to fear for his life.

“I thought I knew racism living down here,” Jones said. “[But] Some of this stuff is based on experiences we have.”

The Black Jew Dialogues

The two opened up and shared their experiences and asked their audience to do the same by bringing up what is unspoken and difficult to voice. Students remarked on their parents and grandparents “old beliefs” and negativity based on race, gender preferences and other differences. They also shared experiences they had throughout college.

Jones and Tish both believe that the overall exposure of today’s racism will help prohibit it in the future.

“Your culture matters,” Jones said. “The things that separate us are the most superficial. All the crap we fight with, if you widdle it down far enough it becomes people, pain, sharing.”

The Black Jew Dialogues gave audience members a deeper look into the racial issues still facing Americans. Opening the eyes of RU by drawing on fairness and equality, Jones and Tish succeeded with their performance, The Black Jew Dialogues.

They came together, in unison in their final words.

“You’ve got to know… I’ve got your back.”

[This story was published in the March 3, 2010 issue of The Tartan. It was published online March 2.]


About Me:

Kate Wilk is a Journalism major attending Radford University. She currently works for two Student Media organizations: Managing Editor for The Tartan, RU's student newspaper and Marketing Manager for Whim, RU's online magazine.

June 2019
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