I’ll never forget the time a non-Jew (which I had known many of before) approached me in our middle-school hallway and bluntly asked “Are you Jewish?”
I was pretty sure I did not have a Jew sign on my forehead, so I said ‘Yes.’ He made some indecipherable body gesture and walked away, leaving me to figure that he was spearheading a fact-finding mission for his group of friends.
I was left feeling slightly ashamed of myself. Had I done something wrong? Was I no longer as human as everyone else?
When the six elementary schools in our town merged into middle school, a host of cultures clashed for the first time. Not just Black & White; Catholic, Jewish, Latino, Asian, & Indian too.
The funny little story above that happened to me is less than nothing on the scale of discrimination; it doesn’t even register. The point is, what must every other, visibly ethnic kid have run into – spoken and unspoken?
We’re not living in the 1950’s, but we’re a long way from equality. If you think that racism is over, think again.
Or read this, which I am reading now. It’s gripping, beautiful, and it will get you thinking. Jesmyn Ward has done something truly special with this book.