“Black [Jewish] kids still need to be around other Black children and adults or else they turn into, for the most part, colorstuck, confused adults with identity issues.”
Amen to that.
A simple enough Facebook status that evolved into a whirlwind of crazy and…well…OTHER things…Mostly the naive contention that skin color is irrelevant and Black Jewish children need to “just” be raised around Jews…
This thread was one that raises a lot of questions about the issue of identity when being an [insert ethnicity] Jew. As if for some reason ppl refuse to acknowledge the fact that YOU. ARE. BOTH!!! Whenever I raise such issues, the conversation usually goes like this: “Do you consider yourself Black first or Jewish first? Are you Black or Jewish? You seem to have identity issues. What does this matter aren’t we all just Jewish?”
1-That makes just as much sense as asking a tiger if he’s orange first or black first. Or asking a zebra if he’s black first or white first. Or asking the color purple if its red first or blue first. IT’S. BOTH. Likewise WE are both. There’s something so INFINITELY ridiculous about saying “Well just be around other Jews b/c ur Jewish”…Yes…But I’m ALSO SOMETHING ELSE. Why is there always the insistence on denying the “something else”? Especially since, EVERYONE WHO ISN’T “DIFFERENTLY” ETHNIC JEWISH GETS TO DO IT. Ashkenazis are Jewish AND from Eastern Europe. Sephardis are Jewish AND from Western Europe. Mizrahis are Jewish AND from the Middle East. So not only what are you talking about, but what is this “just” Jewish myth ppl keep trying to propagate? There IS no “just” Jewish.
2-Look, I’m glad for you that you as a person believe that skin color doesn’t matter. Yes, in the long run, race is ideally irrelevant, and yes, the ppl that think otherwise are wrong. You know what’s also wrong? Murder. And robbery. And that’s why ppl dont walk down dark alleys late at night alone. B/c while the happy happy cotton candy butterflies and rainbows version of the world acknowledges that its wrong, the REALITY is that it happens. A LOT. So to live as if that isn’t the reality of the world, and to raise children to not be aware of such a reality is naive at best and utter stupidity at worst. As such, ethnic Jewish children need to also have just as much exposure to the ethnic world they belong to–and will be clumped along with anyway–as they have exposure to the Jewish world. To raise said child solely in EITHER world is disastrous.
3-Also don’t tell me racism is “wrong” or “stupid” or “it doesn’t matter at the end of the day”. Maybe that’s what happens at the end of YOUR day. It’s not what happens at the end of mine. *I* have to wake up the next morning and do this all over again, like I have every single day of my life and will have to CONTINUE to do for every single day of my life. Unfortunately us brown ppl dont get that magical power to declare something over just b/c we say so. So plz, save the platitudes. You arent going to “get” where I’m coming from anymore than I’m going to “get” the concept being able to drive a car and NOT get pulled over b/c it looks too expensive for me.
4-“Do you consider yourself to be an African-American Jew or a Jewish African-American?” Honestly? I’m tired of this question. When I walk down the street do you see a Jewish guy with black skin or are you curious about the black guy with a yarmulke on his head? If you see me down the street which yiddish word first pops into ur head, “yidden” or “schvartze”? Would you let me marry your daughter? Why not? If i told you i was a kohen, would I be able to get that aliyah w/o problems? So tell you what, when you can treat me like we’re both “just” Jewish, then sure, i’m a Jewish African-American. Until then, I’m an African-American Jew and stop pretending that you see me as anything otherwise. Because if I were walking down the street in a hoodie and I walk up on you, you’re gonna think I’m gonna tell you to run your pockets, not where I can find a Maariv minyan.
More importantly, YES, I’m Black. Will i get pulled over b/c i fit the profile? Will I be followed around a store when I walk in? Would I have drank from the Colored Only water fountains? Can I walk into a synagogue and not get stared at? Can a member of the Klan walk by me w/o giving me a second glance? When I walk into a Zales, can I get instant non-reluctant service? Can I catch a cab in the city? Do I need a zillion pieces of ID to enter a gated neighborhood? Would any of these situations be dispelled by a quick “I’m Jewish”, flash of a kippa and a sparkle in my teeth as I smile and wink? No? Alright then.
4-By the way, “regular” Jews? Ashkenazis? You’re WHITE. Get over it. Sure you might find it soooo “distasteful” or you “dont identify” with being “white”, but guess what? You are.
Can you hail a taxi with no problem? Do ppl follow you around the store when you walk in? Do ppl clutch their bag closer when you enter an elevator? In the 60’s would you have been forced to get on the back of the bus? Can you walk into a synagogue and not get stared at? Can a member of the Klan walk by you w/o giving you a second glance? When you enter a Zales, are the employees reluctant to come assist you? Do you have any problem walking around gated neighborhoods at night? Would you get asked to show ID in Arizona? Do you receive all the trappings of White Privilege? [Well I guess thats a trick question, right? B/c one of the components of White Privilege is that you dont realize that you have it].
At any rate, SURPRISE: You’re White. Congratulations.
But you know, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I should just ignore this whole Black and Jewish thing and just accept that I’m “just” Jewish. Let’s see what my fellow Jews say:
“This congregation shall not encourage or interfere with making proselytes under any pretense whatever, nor shall any such be admitted under the jurisdiction of their congregation, until he or she or they produce legal and satisfactory credentials, from some other congregation, where a regular Chief [Rabbi] or Rabbi and Hebrew
Consistory is established; and, provided, he, she or they are not people of color.” –Rule No. 23, “Constitution of the Hebrwe [sic] Congregation Kaal Kodesh Beth Elohim, or House of G-d, Charleston”, 1820.
Now tell me again about how I’m “just” Jewish.