Race and Your Community
I feel that I have learned a lot over the years about culture and differences in people. My life was not always a bed of roses and sometimes it still isn’t. However I am the one who took a step to make a change and break m cultural stereotypes of others. After my experiences there was no way I could go back to the way of thinking I was once taught.
My life began being raised in a staunch Jewish household. I always felt a little different though because my eyes were blue. I have seen very few members of my community have blue eyes like me. The ones that I had seen with blue or even green eyes were like me, half Jewish. My father is part Irish, Italian with a small amount of Indian in him. I look very much like my father. My grandfather on my dad’s side was Italian and my grandmother on my dad’s side was mostly Irish but has about a quarter of Cherokee Indian in her. My mother however looks a lot like the people in the Jewish community. She has the dark hair with the hazel eyes. Both of my grandparents on my mother’s side are Jewish and carry the Jewish traits as well. Most people in my Jewish community have really light skin with dark hair and brown or hazel eyes. These people are descendants from Jews who came from European countries such as Germany. A few members of my community have darker skin with the dark hair and brown eyes. These people are either descendants of Israeli Jews or from Israel themselves. I do share the light skin of the Jewish half of my family however that could have also come from the Irish half of my family as well.
Growing up Jewish did not really teach me tolerance for other people and cultures. Even though I was raised Jewish I was always made to believe that there was something wrong with me growing up. I had blue eyes and no one else really did. I have to say it really was not so much the community that made me feel this way it was more my family. I am guessing because my mother got pregnant with me with a non Jewish man the emphasis for me to not do the same was dire. I was hounded by the family about marrying the man that was picked out for me. Stature in the community was of big importance to my family and most Jews. If something was done to tarnish that reputation it was a huge deal. A good example of this would be that my mother got pregnant at age 16 and was taken out of town for a special abortion just to not tarnish the family’s reputation. My mother again got pregnant this time at age 17 and had me at 18. Apparently because she got pregnant at a young age with me and to a non Jewish man it was enough to stir some issues with the reputation of my family.
My perspective of others was the same until the year 1995. The Klu Klux Klan came to demonstrate in front of the Jewish Community Center also known as the JCC. This is where I went to school and now my nieces and nephew went. I was appalled that this was happening. I went out to the school with a mass community of Jews. On arriving I found other all kinds of people there protesting the Klu Klux Klan’s presence. What struck me was these people are here to protect not only their cultures but to protect the children. They did not care for the fact that they were Jewish. All that matters was here is a group was trying to desecrate a culture just because we were not like them. It was prejudice at its finest. I began to have a whole new respect for people of different cultures and race. I got to meet and get to know a lot of them. You could say I got educated.
Now I never told my family that I was a lesbian until I was forced to. In 2001 when I had my accident my lawyer informed me that it might be better to settle out of court because the courts where not very sympathetic to homosexuals. She also told me that because I was hiding it from my family that it would not make me looks very honest. I had to make the decision to tell my family because of this. The Jewish half of my family hardly talks...
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