culture/multiculturalism · Hispanics/Latinos · jews of color · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · New York · race/racism · Riverdale

Apartment Hunting While Black (Jew)

Sorry for the late in the afternoon post, it might take me a couple of days to get over jet lag and flying and the resulting pain and fatigue.

In the meantime, here’s a little link love for a post, “Apartment Hunting while Jewmaican”, on a cute new Jew of color blog, The Diary of a Jewmaican Girl. While I’m not black, I can empathize with Jewmaican Girl’s troubles while apartment hunting.

Here are a couple of my apartment hunting stories.

1. When my aunt got evicted because new landlords took over her apartment in Williamsburg, she had trouble finding a place in the same area. After a while, she realized that as soon as people heard her very Spanish-sounding last name, they weren’t getting back to her or hanging up on her. I told her to use my very Jewish-sounding name. She eventually found a place using her own name but I’ve always wondered about this story considering that once upon a time, people wouldn’t rent to Jews, just like they wouldn’t rent to blacks. Now it’s Jews not renting to blacks and Hispanics.

2. When my little sister was looking for an apartment, I emailed a lot of places for her as Aliza Hausman. More than one place emailed back particularly troubled when I gave them my sister’s actual name and contact information. They were fine with the possibility of living with a Jewish girl but not a Hispanic girl. (In fact, one Israeli had no trouble breaking it down to me in a trashy, totally unkosher racist email.) Obviously, they couldn’t even fathom the possibility of living with a Jewish Hispanic girl.

3. Just before we got married, my husband and his parents were looking for places in Riverdale for us with a local real estate agent (Jewish). The real estate agent asked my husband where he was moving from and he said, “Washington Heights.” She replied (and you’ve heard this one if you’ve ever heard me give my talk on racism): “Well, don’t worry, there aren’t many Hispanics here.” My husband and his parents were appalled. But thankfully, the real estate agent was wrong since it was in Riverdale, at the very synagogue she herself attends, that I discovered so many Dominican Jews.

So you can color me unsurprised when I read “I do not worry about access to housing or apartments in predominately Jewish neighborhoods” is one of the privileges afforded Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jews on the “Ashkenazi Privilege List.”

One thought on “Apartment Hunting While Black (Jew)

  1. can you imagine people's reactions to finally meeting me when all they've seen is my name in print??? in walks this tall asian (not Samoan, but looks like it) girl with a very European Russian sounding name…

    and oh my gosh, “You were born with the name?”… “What do you mean you're not married, and that's not your husband's name???”


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