Sunday, February 17, 2008

Mild Rant

I just saw a chilling video another blog. Apparently its not new. Its on study done with black children giving them two dolls a white one and a black one. They must chose which one they think is the "good" doll and which one is the "bad" doll. Sadly, the choice they made reflected a need for better black images.

Is it impossible to have my cake and eat it too?!

I am married to a WM. But I want my children to be happy about both their heritage. I definitely want them to be proud Jews, comfortable in their skin. Its like life is like a constant battle. Before children, I was battling it out for myself.

For myself, I wanted to be happy, with a good marriage partner. I wanted to be God-fearing, doing His Will. And I wanted to find a place to live where I can be comfortable doing the things I want to do. Most everything else, was not worth a fight (to me).

I thank God, I pretty much am there. Except for my mental battle against the "overly religious" in my neighborhood who tend to judge everyone --and nobody passes! LOL I have to fight constantly telling myself that what I am doing is within halacha (Jewish Law) even if they take things to the extreme, I don't have to feel that my apparent lenient views are any less according to the law. Aside from that battle, I am happy.

But soon after children come into the picture. *Whew!* a new battle has begun. The fight for their minds. In Israel, its a bit more different in that there is pressure to send the kids to gan (pre -pre nursery school) at the rip old age of 2 1/2! How can I influence them properly if they are out of my hands that early?!

I have kept them home -despite pressure from eeeeveryyywhere! - one advantage to having a husband who can understand and knows where your coming from. But thank God, my husband is "teachable" lol. Even now I have an almost two year old that I feel like i'm "hiding" away in my home.

But I am their only mother and so I MUST fight. Hard. I want them to have images in their lives that give them a very positive view of who they are.

I remember once my husband came home a bit shocked. I asked him what's the matter. He replied that it was very near the time to pray (Muslim men pray five times a day; Jewish men pray three times a day; women pray all the time! lol) and he didn't know where to go. So he ducked into a school for boys and prayed in there. On his way out, he saw a picture of "Moses" (they had a picture of Moses, okay?!) and in the picture he looked as European as you can possibly get, complete with old time European noblemen clothing (shtreimel and bekesha). What a shock! That they should be teaching the children that even back in Moses's days, people were Europeans.

I am so scared. I've got to look long and hard for my kids. I have to find a school with a good compromise of diversity and religiousity.

Add to that, i've got this annoying habit of meandering into racist blogs who talk about "gotta stay black!" what it means to be black, etc. I know in my mind that there is nothing to be ashamed of being black. Its a beautiful thing, despite what the media machine and all their cohorts are trying to promote. It just sometimes doesn't look like racism to me because its seemingly pro-black.

I've got to fight.

*end of rant* lol


-suitepotato- said...

A very long time ago in my youth I knew a black woman who I cared about deeply. We were a couple of sorts, just getting together when it all blew apart. She ran with a bad crowd, fell afoul of her mother's wrath, and withdrew to a cocoon of drugs and shifty friends.

As everyone said, you can't speak louder to a person than the pharmaceuticals scream in their blood. Having had since then a bout with the bottle, I know what that means even more now. So it all fell apart.

I tell you this to frame what went between and what always stuck with me: despite the life on the edge running flat out pedal to the floor and headed for a brick wall, she was a very clear very straightforward thinker. What bugged her and made her give in she could say clearly and honestly but be no less blue for.

She told me the city she lived in was essentially a lie. Lots of rich white people who promised things, promised special opportunities to make up for the past, promised handouts, promised all sorts of great sounding things. In the end though, they got just the promises. A welfare system that let them live to listen to the promises, but nothing else.

She said to me that she busted her backside over and over to be something more than a face, to be a person of her own and all she ever got from the system was everything about how she was black and not how she was a person, an individual and what broke her heart was that. She wanted to be her, not a color.

Her smile lit up my day back then. Her laugh made my day back then. She was someone to me. And even she, knowing herself an individual, and being fiercely proud of it, could sob in despair at the lack of hope offered in the world that would not see her as anything but a color.

She was an individual. Even if she fell under the onslaught of a shallow and superficial mass society, she was in her moment an individual and knew it. She could claim more in that time than most people ever can who in their day slide through life without ever thinking that though G-d had once way back before time was time, "I am."

G-d be with you as you remain an individual. More than you will ever know value that.

Miriam said...

Suitepotato - wow, you just describe many black, thinking women.

Sometimes, it feels like its better -easier not to think. Less hurtful that's for sure.

But for some, we must think. And feel. And hopefully do.

Thank you for that.

Ayelet said...

That video is absolutely chilling! To see a beautiful little girl identify herself with a doll that she identifies as bad because of its color. So very disturbing. I shudder when I think of the battle you must face because, unfortunate as it is, the "segregation" and racist views are so vvery pronounced in the Chareidi community. To this day, I remember my mother's reaction when I came home from a year in Israel looking quite "black". She was horrified. In the Chareidi community, the discrimination against sefardic Jews is so rampant. My mom, an intelligent woman, actually said to me, "You look like a little Frankale." I was so disappointed in her. I hope I haven't subconsciously absorbed some of that racism. After seeing that video though, I'm afraid to think which doll I would choose and how I would explain my choice under deep hypnosis. (Interestingly, I always preferred dark-skinned beautiful black models to beautiful white ones)

Ayelet said...

Are you Jewish from birth, btw?

Miriam said...

Ayelet - Thanks for your comment! I also wonder which doll i'd choose believe it or

Villager said...

Just keep doing the right thing for your children and your husband as you see it. Be true to yourself. If you do this you will be balanced and comfortable regardless of what others pressure you to do or say...

peace, Villager

come running said...

I commend you on doing what you know is right for your children.

I'm sorry to say that I am also jealous that you have the opportunity to do so.

focusedpurpose said...


your writing is so poignant, searching and vulnerable. i wish there was a way to give you a hug.

my heart squishes to hear the love and concern that you have for your children. i understand, i am a mother as well. my son is older than your little ones. it's funny, it all works out. it really does.

i will come back to visit. i like to learn about other ways of living and people whose journeys are so different yet similiar. you know?

blessings to you and yours in abundance.


Tania said...

You are not alone! we live in a very eurocentric society and it's quite the job teaching our kids the truth but we have to try.