The Black Hebrew Israelites Do Downtown Dallas

In 1997, back when major metropolitan dailies apparently had enough cash lying around to send staff writers to Israel, The Dallas Morning News profiled the Black Hebrew Israelites, a group of expat African-Americans claiming to be descendents of the tribe of Judah and, therefore, Jews.

It was an unexpected mashup of '60's black nationalism and Old Testament literalism, a tiny but close-knit community stubbornly clinging to the fringes of Israeli society and mainstream religion.

The Black Hebrew Israelites are still around. Some of them, apparently, are spending weekends in Downtown Dallas. A Friend of Unfair Park sends word that he spotted a group on Main Street this weekend and passed along a YouTube video showing them demonstrating a couple of months back:

It's a bit like watching a military drill, with shouted commands ("WE CAME ALL THE WAY OUT HERE AND Y'ALL SOUNDING LIKE SOME DAMN WUSSES. WHO'S THE KING?") and a yelled response ("CHRIST!").

The cameraman, a white guy, engages one of the leaders in a brief debate on biblical exegesis:

BHI: You know what your biblical name is? Esau.

Cameraman: God hated Esau, didn't he?

BHI: That's right.

Cameraman: You think God hates me?

BHI: I don't think.

Cameraman: You know he hates me?

BHI: That's right.

Cameraman: You guys hate me? All you guys hate me because I'm white?

BHI: I wouldn't say it's a personal thing. It's not personal. It's just biblical.

Cameraman: Do you think you're a Jew and I'm a gentile?

BHI: I know I'm a Jew.

Cameraman: Do you think I'm a gentile?

BHI: Not a gentile for salvation. A gentile for destruction. There are two types of gentiles in the New Testament. See that's what you don't understand. That's why a lot of people think the Bible's a universal book. It's not it's not a universal book.

Cameraman: You think it was written for me?

BHI: It's not.

Just in case you were wondering what all the yelling was about.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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