Why I Don’t Do “Race.”

torahscrollsTwitty
Michael Twitty is an observant Jew, a teacher of Torah, and an eminent food historian.

I am reposting an article from Michael Twitty’s blog Afroculinaria because it is a beautiful teaching about racism, a subject that surrounds us but which most of us don’t understand.

I encourage you to read it and pass links to it among your circle of friends. I also encourage you to click the “Donate” link on the right side of Mr. Twitty’s blog. Supporting a teacher of Torah is an important mitzvah, because it preserves Torah for the next generation.

– Rabbi Ruth Adar

Afroculinaria

Race.

The minute I say that I’m African American people cast that word “race,” on me faster than the net that they used to catch Kunta Kinte in Roots.

Race is a dangerous concept and it’s source, the evolution of the Western response to human differences and diversity, from treating non-Europeans as titillating alien curiosities to enslaved chattel, colonial subjects and global pawns in a game of winner take all; is the end result of 2000 years of wrangling over what human means, what the divine means, what our destiny means when it doesn’t look like us.

African American is not a race. African American is a cultural designation. It’s as socio-political as Black, Negro, Colored, before it. Its an old term, first appearing in print in America in the late 18th century. Jesse Jackson didn’t invent it and please don’t bore me with “you’re not African,” because it’s…

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rabbiadar

Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi based in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, mom, poodle groomer, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at https://coffeeshoprabbi.com/ as the Coffee Shop Rabbi.

2 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Do “Race.””

  1. Whenever I am asked about my race, I leave the question blank or if asked in person say, “I prefer not to answer.” There is an exception however I admit, if it has to do with a health issue, and then I ask in return if what the questioner is looking for is my heritage. That is generally the true answer, and that answer is “Ashkenazi Jewish”, not “Caucasian”.

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    1. I recognize the need for the question, because it’s one way of making sure that more are served than merely the majority. I answer “white” because while my ancestry is almost exclusively from the British Isles and I am a Jew, my skin color generally gives me white privilege. Police see a white lady when they look at me; so do security people in stores. I find it helpful to be reminded of it, too.

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