Dear Frum Community, The Way You Treat My Black Child Pushes Me Away
Dear Frum community, I love you. I fought to be with you, I longed to be with you.
I was a Jewish girl who went to Catholic school. I gave up so much to be here, to be a part of this community. I’ve been here for ten years and I wouldn’t change it. The incredible sense of belonging, the shared joys and sorrows. I don’t believe that anybody else is as lucky as we are to have each other. So why, why do I often feel such a disconnect with you, my Jewish brothers and sisters?
When I look into my daughter’s face, I know why. The answer is in her beautiful brown skin, her mischievous smile and those gorgeous long eyelashes. I know why.
You don’t see her the way I do. Not all of her at least. You use the word schvartze in front of me, in front of her! When I catch your eye, your response is, “Not her.” You don’t mean her.
Well, you say, it’s not really wrong. Look at the crime! Their car was broken into! Their bikes were stolen! Excuse after excuse. Is this how much you know about your neighbors? Your unwillingness to change or to admit that maybe you’re wrong slaps me in the face.
You go out and give candles to Jewish women and make sure all Jews shake a lulav and esrog, but you push me away, you push her away with your inability to see your beliefs for what they are, racist. Shabbos table conversations, in front of our family. There is concern and outrage about looters and vandals. Where is the outrage over a dead body, the dead body lying in the middle of the street? There is none. Is it because he has skin the same color as the skin I see holding my hand every day?
My child is Jewish. And Black. Black and Jewish. Where does she see herself in our classrooms? In our books, our toys, your dolls? Her teachers, her friends?
She is an island. There are few who look like her. Your children reach out and touch her curls, her braids, her beads. “It feels like a sheep” they say.
She is not an animal. I no longer have to teach her to swat your hand away and say, “Don’t touch my hair!” So little, but so strong. She has to be.
She is not my flesh and blood. She is my sweat and tears, my joys and fears, my hope, my future, my heart and soul. She is my daughter, she is a daughter of the King. Treat her as such.