We’re All Helping Raise Black Jewish Kids
Whether you realize it or not, you are helping to raise Black children. What I mean by that is, just by virtue of my biracial children being in community with you, you are helping to shape their identity — just as I am helping to shape the worldview of your children.
Whether you realize it or not, you are teaching my children how and to what extent they will be accepted in the Jewish community. In the lab-like environments that are our synagogues, schools, and organizational buildings, they are conditioned by the looks on your faces when they enter the room and by the behind-closed-door conversations that your children repeat on the playground. My toddler is learning who it is safe to play with; my 11-year-old is learning who will have him over; and, sooner than I would like, my bar mitzvah boy is learning who it will be safe to ask out on a date. They are learning whether they are seen as equals and embraced, or whether their presence is merely tolerated.
When my children enter your community spaces, they stand out simply by virtue of their skin color, whether you’d like to think they do or not. They learn what you think of People of Color when they see them around as nannies at drop off, as custodial staff, home health aides, and as the people you’ve hired to guard the doors that keep them safe. When my children see how you interact with these individuals, they see how you really see their mother — me — and how you really see them. They see and begin to build their identities around whether their existence is merely to be in the service of you.