You’d be surprised how some conversations in Jewish circles start for Jews of color. Often, they don’t start with “Hi, what’s your name?”
Instead, they start with “Hey, are you a convert?” even before the other person has introduced themselves. Usually, this question has substituted, “Hi! Hello! How are you?” The curiosity of the person on the other end is so overwhelming that all polite pleasantries quickly fall out of the window. Splat.
Or they start with “Sooooo, where you from?”But you notice they’re not asking the other Jews, the Jews who are white. Without knowing your name, they demand to know your story, the story of how you came to (maybe) be Jewish but not white. But when you tell them you’re from “New York,” there’s always a follow-up question: “No, really, where are you really from?” And you notice no one else got a two-parter. And now, there’s even a new variation: “no, what’s your maiden name?”
All a Jew of color wants is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. We want people to get to know our names, get to know us as people. We are not exotic monkeys that will talk to you and let you pet us for treats. We are not free entertainment at your Shabbos tables or Jewish events. We want to be treated like every other Jew but we are walking, talking proof of something that many Jews forget…Jews come in all shapes, sizes and colors!