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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Deda BS: My Prejudices (56* d) RE: BS: My Prejudices 18 Jan 06

Two experiences. First, the book 'The Color of Water" by James McBride is about a black kid, the eighth out of twelve children, whose mother was white. She came from an observant Jewish family in the south and had a miserable childhood, a cruel father (a rabbi, which seems rare & unlikely to me) -- and the only love she really experienced was from her first boyfriend, who was black. The book is great, and I recommend it for a mind-bending study in prejudice.

Second, I was raised in a mildly Episcopalian family, and my ex-husband was Jewish. I went from having a very WASPy name to having an extremely Jewish name (Rebecca Goldstein). I experienced that shift in "who am I perceived to be by strangers" for 17 years, until my divorce. That in itself is an interesting lesson in prejudice, real and imagined -- but it pales in comparison with having children who really are members of an ethnic minority. My ex never had any interest in Judaism, but his parents became orthodox and moved to Israel. My daughter converted to Judaism before she was even a teenager, and by the age of 18 she moved to Israel, where she lived for ten years. She's now married into an orthodox family and lives in Brooklyn. She can't cook at my house (I'm re-married to a guy who grew up Presbyterian and who knows relatively little about Judaism), because it would be nearly impossible for my kitchen to become kosher. For her or her family to eat at my house I have to have paper plates, plastic utensils, and food that's carefully selected with some knowledge of kosher food. All of this can sometimes wear me out and can be quite frustrating, depending on what other issues are on the table. Is this about prejudice? If so, is it mine, hers, or "other"?

A friend once expressed some irritation at my ex, complained about some imagined rudeness of his and blamed it on his being Jewish. That infuriated me. It was entirely irrelevant and a really stupid remark, IMO.

Plain-out, obvious prejudice is too easy. We can all congratulate ourselves on being against it. We all have soft-core prejudices which are much harder to spot, to name, and to extricate.

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