Hispanics/Latinos · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · Los Angeles · race/racism

Silence, A Response

Remodeling the world.

Some bad book I was reading was making fun of suburbanites and how much time they spend talking about remodeling their homes. I found this curious because I had yet to walk into such a conversation out here in Los Angeles. And then it happened.

During one Sukkot meal, I happened upon talk of “redoing” kitchens and other stuff. Just as I was thinking about changing classes (in my case from welfare to someday middle class, currently hanging with some upper class folk), one dark-haired woman asked the fair-haired speaker, “Oh, you’re husband’s been doing all the work on your home?”

The blonde replied, “Well, yeah. Mostly. But you know, for some of the work we hired a Mexican.” Honestly, the words were verbalized in italics. Did I imagine the way she wrinkled her nose? And I stood there silently despite my article about how racist people need to be educated. Did she mean to be racist? Did she realize what she said was racist to me? The dark-haired woman hazarded a shocked glance my way after the comment. Did she know I was thinking, “for some of the work we hired a Dominican!”

And then at the same meal, I let another one slide. A man said he was “marrying a shiksa” right in front of his wife, who is in the process of converting to Judaism. My mother-in-law gave snuck a startled glance in my direction. But neither of us had the courage to speak up. Neither of us mentioned that he was calling his fiancé an abomination.

Why is it so difficult to speak up against the small injustices in our lives?

3 thoughts on “Silence, A Response

  1. I would admit, the first situation would have made me uncomfortable; but I wouldn’t have said anything. But in the second situation, I would have. Not at the table…maybe later in private.I have stopped getting personally offended at racists comments in the Jewish community. I just blame it on gross ignorance; which it is.

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  2. <>Jewminicana Wrote:<>Why is it so difficult to speak up against the small injustices in our lives?<>Ehav’s Response<>Probably because sometimes there are things that are said, and one doesn’t know the source of it. In turn it becomes hard to respond when someone is not directly the target, but is still indirectly the target. Maybe also because sometimes it is easier to be in awe of what is said, and a person is so caught off guard that it becomes hard to verbalize what one is feeling. It is only in hindsight sometimes that one can say, I should have said……I should have done……Sometimes it is a matter of weighing the option to react vs. the option to respond.

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  3. I don’t know why. I don’t respond because just because they embarassed me (an African American Orthodox Jew) doesn’t mean that I should embarass them. However, I just talked to a rebbetzin who I am close to who said that they need to be educated. I should not be the one leaving a situation feeling bad about myself, but they should leave the situation analyzing their feelings and understanding that they have hurt someone else’s feelings, esp another Jew.

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