We at JOI are all about creating an inclusive Jewish community. We believe in developing “big tent” Judaism, no matter what your subgroup is: interfaith, LGBT, Jews of color. We also are well aware that these communities frequently overlap. And with the knowledge that the Jewish community takes cues from the secular community, which in turn takes cues from popular culture, we were appalled to learn about the latest from the television series “Survivor,” as reported in USA Today.
In response to criticism about its groups not being racially or ethnically integrated, they decided to set up competing groups from various ethnic communities. Jen Chau, who co-directs New Demographic, an anti-racism training company (and who participated in a panel discussion at JOI’s last conference in Atlanta December 2005), had this to say about “Survivor”:
With the announcement that the new season of “Survivor” would split its contestants up by race and pit these “tribes” against one another, I thought it important to speak out against the divisiveness that is going to be characteristic of the show—with blacks against whites, against Hispanics, against Asians. This set-up will make racial conflict inevitable. In aiming for diverse representation, we should be thinking about how to bring different groups together rather than splitting them up to battle one another.
I guess that the financial lure was too great for participants to say no—perhaps viewers will vote with their feet and turn off their TV sets as well.