By Marissa Perlman

FOLSOM (CBS13) – A Jewish woman of color is an activist fighting for racial justice in a year of civil unrest.

April Baskin of Folsom considers herself a “change agent.”

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You may have seen her speak in Washington D.C. at the Women’s March. Her dream to make an impact started years ago.

April’s dad is black and Native American. Her mom comes from an Ashkenazi Jewish background. She says being black and Jewish, and growing up in a predominantly white community, sometimes makes you stand out.

“Even though we were such a minority where I grew up. It was a whole world created around me,” said April, speaking with CBS13 from her home in Dakar, Senegal.

She’s always been proud of being multiracial but has experienced both antisemitism and racism. She says being black and Jewish, there is a feeling of being an outsider.

“There’s this shared sense of otherness. Fundamental otherness in American society,” she said, “What’s all-American, does not look Ashkenazi, or Sephardic or Mizrahi, and it also doesn’t look black.”

She says in Folsom because the Jewish community was so small, April was encouraged to get involved.

“If we’d lived in a major metropolitan area where there was a much larger Jewish community, we likely wouldn’t have been as engaged,” she said.

She’s since created her own international platform for activism, Joyous Justice. The goal is to rectify some of the wrongs done to people of color and strive for a more inclusive world.

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Willie Recht, Chief Executive Officer for the Jewish Federation said, “There are Jews of color and they are part of our community.”

He says it’s extremely important to have young activists like April vouching for the Jewish and black community, especially as anti-Semitism is on the rise.

“The trajectory has been shocking. Anti-Semitic attacks and incidents have increased by 80 percent in the past month alone,” he said.

In 2020- when George Floyd was killed, April rallied the Jewish community, at home and abroad, to get involved, and behind her fight for racial justice.

“It opened up a whole new realm of possibility,” Baskin said.

Two marginalized communities, coming together for change.

“That was part of what made me feel like I will always have a home in this Jewish community,” Baskin said.

 

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Marissa Perlman