How the Racism in Our Community Comes Back to Hurt Us
“And now we’re going to count the way cleaning ladies count! Uno, dos…”
My kindergarten age daughter learned to count in Spanish and this was how morah introduced the skill at graduation. Many of the mothers laughed. The subtle insinuation that all people who speak Spanish, or at least all the people from Mexico, are here only to be our cleaning ladies, went straight over everyone’s heads and into the hearts of our five-year-olds.
How many little things do we say or do that reflect the attitude that someone—or a group of someones—is worth less because of their color, nationality, or financial status?
How often do we judge people as inferior, not by their actions or personality, but by the circumstance of their birth?
Telling a child not to play with another child on the playground simply because he’s from a different background introduces the idea that different equals inferior. And when that child is another Jewish child, but maybe a different looking Jewish child, that sentiment has already been ingrained and carries over to bias within the community as well.
It’s not surprising when a yeshivish child makes fun of “chassidishas” because the chassidish child looks different than he does and therefore must be inferior. Or a child with darker skin. Or a child with a foreign accent. Or one with a disability. Our children are being taught that different is lesser and that message stays with them for life. Only by examining our own motives behind the things we say and do, can we break the cycle of elitism and prejudice that should be an embarrassment to a community so often subjected to to prejudice itself. What do you think?