Sadia Shepard’s op-ed piece in the Forward, “Targeting Tolerance in Mumbai”, has led to a debate about hyphenated identities. One reader, Yehuda, swears they don’t exist. (Are we a myth? I just pinched myself and I seem to be very real.) The other reader, Pamela, an African American/Carribean American (represent!) woman, says we do.
Here was my response:
“Thanks for such a beautiful article.
As to the debate that it has sparked, let me weigh in.
I am a Dominican American Orthodox Jew. I speak English, Spanish and very limited Hebrew. My parents came to America as teenagers but between trips to the Dominican Republic, food, customs, etc, I find myself identifying strongly as Dominican. Living as an Orthodox Jew is another side of my identity. Growing up as a first-generation American is another side of my identity.
I have a hyphenated identity and I often find that people with singular identities have a hard time coping or understanding how my life functions in English and Spanish and Hebrew and some smattering of Yiddish. But I would think an American Jew or a Jewish American wouldn’t need to have these kinds of things explained to him.
And might I add that if you’d like to learn more about hyphenated identities, you might want to read Sadia’s book or check out my blog. 🙂 We’re very real people, in fact, us hyphenates as Pamela troubled herself to point out throughout all her comments.”
Be sure to check out Sadia’s article and perhaps weigh in on hyphenated identities.