The Ides of March in New York City bring high school placement results for thousands of 8th graders. This year, Stuyvesant, the city’s most selective public high school, accepted only seven African-American students out of a class of 952. Last year, that number was nine.
Had they counted my son, they could have gone into the double digits, but they didn’t that year because he was coming from a private school, and they won’t be counting him as attending this year because he checked both the Black and White boxes on his forms, and the public school system just can’t deal with that kind of ambiguity and so chooses not to slot him at all. (I only mention this because it’s very possible similar scenarios exist in the 2014 incoming class. It also doesn’t mean that all seven will choose to attend. I know of three African-American kids who turned down Stuyvesant for scholarships at private schools.)
When asked this question, I always say that I am an American Jew. As the fourth generation to be born in New York, I don’t align myself with other countries. Many European nations expelled their Jewish populations. If they didn’t want my family, why would I claim them now? But my answer masked a simpler truth: For most of my life, I didn’t know where I came from.
Relationships with my father’s family were strained. I didn’t want to hurt him by dredging up a past best left buried. Details trickled out over the years, and I had to be satisfied with those. I had lots of contact with my mother’s side, but my mother never asked about our immigration story. This completely baffled me, but she lived her life surrounded by a large family. She never wondered about those that were gone. Read the rest of this entry →
How do you get your kids to understand the meaning of a holiday, and not just the fact that they get a day off from school? Well, we were wondering the same thing, so we asked our readers on Facebook to share how they were planning on translating the importance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to their kids.
Here are the five most thoughtful answers we received to help you celebrate MLK Jr. Day with your kids in a meaningful way:
1. Make them listen to his “I have a dream” speech. It’s wonderfully captivating!
2. There is a great book called My Brother Martin, written for young kids by MLK’s sister. It is beautiful and well written. I heartily recommend it!
3. I told my kids that MLK was a person who wanted everybody to be friends. Some people don’t think everybody should be friends; they think you should only be friends with people who are like you. But he really wanted everyone in the world to be friends with each other, even if they were different. Read the rest of this entry →
The thing about “causeless hatred” is that it sounds like something that other people do.
Causeless hatred is something other people do–because it’s something that is obviously wrong. And we aren’t people who would do something obviously wrong. We’re thoughtful most of the time. We have people in our lives that we love. But causeless hatred–hating someone else for no reason? That’s something other people do, people who are bigots, idiots, war criminals, or terrorists.
This is a convenient emotional shorthand that we all adopt from time to time: we assume, in the big scheme of things, that we are the “good guys.” I’m sure most of us are “good guys.” And I’m equally sure that we are all guilty of instances of causeless hatred. Read the rest of this entry →
We’re super proud of frequent Kveller contributer Alina Adams, who was just interviewed on NPR’s Tell Me More as a result of a piece she wrote for us this summer.
Alina’s piece “When to Hide Your Race & Religion” definitely sparked some debate on our site, as it’s all about raising interracial, interfaith kids and teaching them that sometimes, it might be of benefit to hide part of your heritage. Alina talked with Michel Martin about how she came to this perspective, and their conversation is definitely interesting no matter what race or religion your family happens to be. Here’s the interview:
You can read the full text of the interview here and read Alina’s original piece here. Way to go, Alina!
I was all set to answer her question with delightful and pithy anecdotes about how we do things in our interracial, interfaith and intercultural household (dad: African-American, mom: Soviet-born Jew, three kids: all of the above), when my eyes fell on some of the comments both on the original article, and the Kveller Facebook page:
I am not sure that it’s necessary to have a specific talk about race unless your child brings it up or encounters or observes some type of racist behavior….
Yes, but not unless it brings itself up naturally. There’s no reason to address it otherwise…
It should be a non-conversation….
Kids don’t notice it until you tell them about it…
I didn’t realize that I was black until I was told so.
It was during a grade school outing that I realized the complexities of race and race tension in the world. I was at a high school football game holding the hand of my 7th grade boyfriend when a group of mostly black older boys surrounded us. They told me that a black girl had no business holding a white boy’s hand and before I knew it the mass of boys engulfed my pre-pubescent boyfriend. Thankfully, the fight was broken up by another classmate and my boyfriend was found hiding in some bushes, bruised. Read the rest of this entry →
In Tamara Reese’s recent piece on kids being more open-minded than adults, she wrote the following phrase: Would I encourage (my son) to hide his heritage in an effort to make life easier on him, or myself? Absolutely not.
This is a subject my husband and I have discussed at length. He is African-American. I am a Jew from the former Soviet Union. And when it comes to: Would we encourage our children to hide their heritage(s) in an effort to make life easier for themselves or us?
This past week, I was invited to participate in a radio show. As is typical, the producer called me in advance for a pre-interview. And then eventually (politely) dis-invited me from appearing on the show. Because my marriage was too, well, happy. Read the rest of this entry →