Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Are We White?

The Atlantic online is running two articles by Emma Green:
Both are full of excellent observations of modern society, the particular situation of Jews at this moment of increased antisemitism, and historical material. The author explores just where American Jews have stood as a particular type of minority and how they have progressed from a truly marginal status to a much more mainstream position where Jews hold power -- power that's usually reserved for "white" people. From Are Jews White:
Over time, though, they assimilated. Just like other white people, they fled to the suburbs. They took advantage of educational opportunities like the G.I. bill. They became middle class. “They thought they were becoming white,” said Lewis Gordon, a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut. “Many of them stopped speaking Yiddish. Many of them stopped going to synagogue. Many of them stopped wearing the accoutrements of Jewishness.”
Jews think about questions of race in their own lives with incredible diversity. There are many different kinds of Jews: Orthodox, secular, Reform; Jews by birth, Jews by choice, Jews by conversion. Some Jews who aren’t particularly religious may identify as white, but others may feel that their Jewishness is specifically linked to their ethnic inheritance. “If you’re a secular Jew, how are you a Jew? It has to be through your cultural or ethnic identity,” said Gordon. “Whereas if you’re a religious Jew, you would argue that you’re a Jew primarily through your religious practices.” As Jews assimilated into American culture, “ironically, investment in religiosity paved the way for greater white identification of many Jews,” he said, allowing more religiously observant Jews to think of themselves as white, rather than ethnically Jewish.
Both articles are worth reading, and I can't begin to summarize their many insights.

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