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July 02, 2005


Alan Scott

Is it really the consensus among readers that Jews are white?
I just started reading your blog, so I guess I'm not a reader, but as a Jews I've always considered myself not-white. White is majority, "white-people" are the midwestern wholesome folks who don't understand people outside their culture. "White bread" is goyish food. :)
As in "white" is everything bland, typical, and majoritarian. "Jewish" is none of those things.
(incindentally, I don't feel like many "white" folks in America are even "white" themselves - they're Scotch-Irish, or German, or British, or French Canadian. Unless they lost hold of their identity. Then I guess they'd have to be "white".

Alan Scott

Also, I feel like there shoudl be some kind of mutual understanding among all the classes of people who are "white." But I know well that "white people" don't know anything about my culture, religion, history, language, or anything.


Do readers think Jews are "white"? You might look at the few comments on a previous post about whiteness in the Talmud.. Of course, numerous Jews are clearly not white (see links above). I avoid labelling myself or other Jews as white, and I sometimes intervene when it's done. A decade ago, I asked my very suburban and apolitical (yet wise) mother, and she clearly thinks we are not white. On the other hand, many of us pass as white and get white privilege, as is quite obvious to a close Jewish friend who has adopted 2 African-American children. So is it pretentious for those who pass as white to act as if not white?

Well, since [if] race is socially constructed, we could simply adjust our sense of identity depending on how we are treated at any given moment: treat me as white and I'll consider myself so, treat me otherwise etc. But that's unbearably passive, plus it's impossible to know, plus individuals are not socially perceived by all others in a consistent manner. At a minimum, then, wouldn't it be better if everyone would eschew white as an identity? A Jew can identify solely as a Jew -- or, to better challenge white privilege, esp those who pass can also identify with "people of color", or whatever name carries this political valence. How would you feel about telling others that you are a person of color?

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)

Yesterday a survey peron called me up, and, having nothing better to do, I answered all their silly survey questions about glasses vs. contacts and stuff like that. For statistical purposes, they also asked me what race i am: White, Black, Asian, or Hispanic. I picked "Other", and identified myself as Middle-Eastern. In more specific contexts, such as blood-donor forms, where for medical reason it's actually true ethnicity (and the genetic conditions that go along with it) that's important and not "race", i list myself as ("Other") "Ashkenazic Jewish".

Mishna: Nega‘im 2:1
Ribbi Yishma‘eil says: "The House of Israel... are neither black nor white, but medium-colored."

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