Jewish tent widens as diversity grows

Posted in Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-12-17 19:58Z by Steven

Jewish tent widens as diversity grows

The Chicago Tribune
2014-12-16

Bonnie Miller Rubin, Reporter


Ellen Zemel (left) lends a hand for a symbolic lighting of a menorah for Hanukkah during a party for parents and children of Project Esther: The Chicago Jewish Adoption Network of the Jewish Child & Family Services, at the Elain Kersten Children’s Center in Northbrook. (Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune)

‘The tribe’ expands to include children of many ethnicities

Meira and Tyler Burnett look forward to their family’s annual Hanukkah party, when they will light the menorah and enjoy traditional potato pancakes, called latkes.

The siblings, ages 11 and 14, respectively, also will sing in the children’s choir at B’nai Yehuda Beth Shalom, where four of the eight participants are African-American — just like them.

“When I tell friends at school that I’m Jewish, they don’t believe me,” said Meira, at the Homewood synagogue. “But that’s what I am.”

The American Jewish population has always been overwhelmingly white, with Central or Eastern European roots — synonymous with matzo ball soup, bagels, Maxwell Street pushcarts and “Seinfeld” — and it’s common to hear Jewish people refer to themselves as members of “the tribe.”

But today, as Jews prepare to celebrate Hanukkah, the eight-day holiday that begins Tuesday, the tribe looks different, because of interracial marriages, adoptions and conversions. And while the white majority still holds true, experts say more racial and ethnic diversity can be found across the spectrum of Judaism.

“There’s more variety of narratives than ever before,” said Chava Shervington, president of The Jewish Multicultural Network. The Philadelphia-based organization started in 1997 with 20 families and has grown to more than 950 members and almost 3,000 Facebook followers, she said. Its tag line: “Because Jews come in all colors.”

The increase in diversity is difficult to quantify. The Chicago Jewish Population Study, conducted every decade by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, first asked about race in 2010. It found that 4 percent (or 5,600 Jewish households) are multiracial, including black, Hispanic, Asian and biracial members…

Read the entire article here or here.

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Little White Lie

Posted in Autobiography, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Passing, Religion, United States, Videos on 2014-12-15 00:59Z by Steven

Little White Lie

Independent Lens
Public Broadcasting Service
Monday, 2015-03-23, 22:00 EST (21:00 CST) (check schedule here)

Little White Lie tells Lacey Schwartz’s story of growing up in a typical upper-middle-class Jewish household in Woodstock, NY, with loving parents and a strong sense of her Jewish identity — despite the open questions from those around her about how a white girl could have such dark skin. She believes her family’s explanation that her looks were inherited from her dark-skinned Sicilian grandfather. But when her parents abruptly split, her gut starts to tell her something different.

At age 18, she finally confronts her mother and learns the truth: her biological father was not the man who raised her, but an African American man named Rodney with whom her mother had had an affair. Afraid of losing her relationship with her parents, Lacey doesn’t openly acknowledge her newly discovered black identity with her white family. When her biological father dies shortly before Lacey’s 30th birthday, the family secret can stay hidden no longer. Following the funeral, Lacey begins a quest to reconcile the hidden pieces of her life and heal her relationship with the only father she ever knew.

Schwartz pieces together her family history and the story of her dual identity using home videos, archival footage, interviews, and episodes from her own life. Little White Lie is a personal documentary about the legacy of family secrets, denial, and redemption.

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Pope Francis Prays for New Ways of Development in Latin America.

Posted in Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Religion on 2014-12-14 01:53Z by Steven

Pope Francis Prays for New Ways of Development in Latin America.

America: The National Catholic Review
2014-12-12

Gerard O’Connell, Associate Editor/Vatican Correspondent

The enchanting music and song of the Missa Criolla resounded through St Peter’s Basilica on the evening of December 12 as Francis, the first Latin American pope, celebrated mass on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and expressed the hope that the continent where he was born would distinguish itself in the future by “new ways of development” marked by its care for the poor, the exploited, the persecuted and its work for justice and peace.

“Today, with gratitude and joy, the peoples and nations of our great Latin American homeland commemorate the feast of their “patron”, Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose devotion extends from Alaska to Patagonia”, Francis, in his homily, told a congregation of thousands of Latin Americans in the basilica, including ambassadors, and thousands of priests, nuns, religious and lay people from all countries of this continent, and a far greater audience following on TV in many countries..

The two-hour celebration began with the recitation of the Guadeloupian Rosary, presided over by the cardinal archbishop of Mexico City, Norberto Rivera Carrera, and concluded with the rousing popular hymn to Our Lady of Guadalupe known as “La Guadalupana”.

Immediately after the rosary, one could sense a great sense of Latin American pride fill the basilica as the flags of the different countries were carried in parade through the central aisle and placed at the side of the high altar…

…In his homily, Pope Francis recalled that when Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego in Tepeyac Hill (on the outskirts of Mexico City), December 1531, she introduced herself as the “ever perfect Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God” (Nican Mopohua)”. Then, he said, “she tenderly hastened to embrace the new people of the Americas at the dramatic moment they came into being” and “assumed within herself the cultural and religious symbolism of the native people, announcing her Son and giving Him to the new and suffering people of mixed race.”

He recalled how Jesus, the Son of Mary, “reveals himself from the origins of this new peoples’ history, as the ‘true God who gives us Life,’ as the good news of filial dignity of all the inhabitants of America.” As a result of this, Francis said that in this continent “no longer is anyone a servant, but we are all children of the same Father, brothers and sisters together.” And, he added, “The Holy Mother of God not only visited these people, but she chose to remain with them.”…

Read the entire article here.

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See How They Love One Another – #BlackLivesMatterSunday

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-12-14 00:57Z by Steven

See How They Love One Another – #BlackLivesMatterSunday

Grace Sandra: Always Grace. Always Advocate. Always Hope.
2014-12-13

Frank Robinson, Retired Pastor and author of Letters To A Mixed Race Son

Around 260 AD the second of two great plagues killed much of the world. It was estimated two thirds of Alexandria died as result. Frightened people immediately began to shove diseased loved ones outside. They were dumped in roadways before they died and the dead were left unburied. Many who fled died of this epidemic, as it was nearly inescapable.

The Christians responded differently. They stayed and cared for the sick. They saw to basic needs of those who suffered. Many of these Christians became ill and lost their own lives, even while heroically nursing the sick, burying the dead and caring for others.

There was such a vivid contrast between pagans, who immediately abandoned their dearest to die alone, and the Christian community, who stayed and fed, nursed and served others to the end. According to Tertullian, the Romans marveled, “See how they love one another!”…

…In response to recent, tragic events in our nation, Bishop Charles Blake, presiding officer of the Church of God in Christ asked his denomination to hold a “Black Lives Matter” awareness and prayer event this Sunday. It is intended to mourn, remember and honor two recently deceased African American men, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both killed by police. The event also is to remind all of the importance of all African American lives. Pastors and members of COGIC churches are asked to wear black Sunday December 14, 2014 to show solidarity. A special prayer will be given for all men present in the service…

Read the entire article here.

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Letters To a Mixed Race Son

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion on 2014-12-13 21:35Z by Steven

Letters To a Mixed Race Son

CreateSpace
2012-01-06
152 pages
5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
Paperback ISBN-10: 1468184024; ISBN-13: 978-1468184020

Frank E. Robinson, Jr.

Foreword by Bishop Charles E. Blake

In a world that continues to grapple with notions of race, a loving father writes a series of letters that speak into the life of his biracial son. In the book’s foreword, Bishop Charles Blake introduces us to Frank Robinson and these Letters To a Mixed Race Son. In 1984, Frank Robinson was a young minister serving in southern Alabama, when word got out that he was engaged. It would be an interracial marriage, which quickly became a local controversy, both scandalous and dangerous. This marriage was announced not long after a lynching in one of the neighboring areas. For safety, their first child was born across the state line. Frank began to understand that if he did not survive, his wife would be left a widow and his son without a father. With this in mind, he began to write letters that would survive in a book. He intended to say the things a father should say and to equip his son to live a meaningful life. Further, even when this son was so young, the letters were written as to a man, so that when the boy became a man, he could have this book. This father writes about identity, character and the timeless responsibility of men and fathers. He speaks of courage as one faces life, hardship and injustice. He tells his son of perseverance, humility and faith, of how to deal with disappointment, criticism, and so much more. These letters were written over years and through seasons of difficulty. The author reminds his son to never forget what struggle is like. These are love letters and wisdom writings, powerful, profound, and infused with a sense of eternity and mortality, of hope and purpose. There is a moment of humor and insight when the little boy came home from kindergarten and earnestly asked, “Is someone in our family white?” Responded to in the affirmative, he demanded, “Who is it?” This book tells of a unique and interesting journey. The mixed race son has grown up, is now married, a new father and a military officer, who serves his country during a time of war. In 2011, about twenty five years after the project started, Frank Robinson gave the hand written original book of letters to his son, who has already begun to write letters to his own child. The author has read a few of these letters to some scarred and damaged people. He found the words he wrote to his own son, were medicating to the sons and daughters of others. Further, these letters may help the reader to see the world a little differently and possibly to find a better self. This work is heartfelt, moving and refreshing, ultimately a rich, deep and encouraging piece of literature.

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We aren’t playing the race card; we are analyzing the racialized deck.

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United States on 2014-12-08 21:02Z by Steven

We aren’t playing the race card; we are analyzing the racialized deck.

Taking Jesus Seriously
The Christian Century: Thinking Critically. Living Faithfully
2014-12-08

Drew G. I. Hart

Changing the game and changing our rhetoric around race and racism.

I would be rich if I got money for every time a white person told me that I was playing the race card. Well it happened recently. While I was lamenting the lack of indictment [for the killing] of Michael Brown compounded with the recent decision not to indict the police that choked the life out of Eric Garner, a white person charged me with playing such a card. Merely speaking about this incident and mentioning racism resulted in the common backlash accusation of playing this mythical item. It is used over and over again by some white people instead of engaging in dialogue through sharing and listening, the choice is made to stigmatize and scapegoat those that disagree that America is mostly a colorblind post-racial nation. There are certain scripts that the white majority learns and rehearses through subtle socialization in dominant culture. Rather than doing the hard work of careful in-depth investigation of the matter, quick cliché dismissals are used to uphold the status quo. The status quo is silence about racism other than pointing out the overt cases, as well as getting into extensive conversation about reverse racism. While I have often gotten frustrated by these little remarks that dismiss black experiences without doing the hard work of listening and wrestling with another perspective, I decided that from now on I was going to “play along” with their game.

This is how the game works. There is an incident that happens in which a large percentage of white Americans tend to interpret such event from a particular cultural and social vantage point while African Americans (and often the majority of other racialized groups) interpret that same moment very differently, in light of their own experiences, history, and context. Each of these moments or incidents must be interpreted. We’ll say they are interpreted by playing a card of one’s choosing that seems most appropriate. See, I am playing along with the given white definitions, so each incident is followed up with playing a card.

African Americans, having experienced hundreds of years of racialized oppression as a community, look at particular incidents and recognize the continuity of systemic oppression, which merely has mutated shape and form, often becoming more sophisticated and structural in nature along the way. With that observation we say that a particular situation is racist and needs to be addressed. However, the moment that race is brought into the conversation, many from the white majority label this move as ‘playing the race card’. By doing so, they suggest that race is being brought up inappropriately. The wrong card is being played. More foundational, and at the heart of the matter, it suggests that the African American interpretation is subjective or manipulative, and that by categorizing an event as racial in nature, it must be called out and dismissed…

…With a sociological framework we can begin to see that white people live highly racialized lives, though they are often unaware of it. Patterns of self-segregation become clear. Where one lives is mostly among those of the same race. Same thing for Church, for intimate relational networks, for the majority of people in one’s phone contacts, or who is invited around one’s table for dinner. You can even see the racial distinctiveness of most people’s book shelves and music. Through these social patterns sociologists are able to reveal high levels of self-segregation among white Americans (more so on average than any other racial group). These patterns also begin to reveal what it means to live on the underside of our racialized society…

Read the entire article here.

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Photography in Economies of Demonstration: The Idea of the Jews as a Mixed-Race People

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Religion on 2014-12-02 02:34Z by Steven

Photography in Economies of Demonstration: The Idea of the Jews as a Mixed-Race People

Jewish Social Studies
Volume 20, Number 1, Fall 2013
pages 150-183
DOI: 10.1353/jss.2013.0015

Amos Morris-Reich, Director of the Bucerius Institute
Department of Jewish History
University of Haifa, Israel

Photographs played an important role in the development of the idea of the Jews as a mixed-race people. This article tracks the trajectory of this idea from the 1880s, when it was first introduced by the liberal Austrian anthropologist and archaeologist Felix von Luschan, through the works of American Jewish physician Maurice Fishberg and German Jewish linguist Sigmund Feist, to its appropriation and inversion by the prominent Nazi theoretician of race Hans F. K. Günther in the 1920s. By tracing the circulation of one photograph, analyzing the roles of photographs in argumentation, comparing their status with other types of empirical sources, and arguing that the key to their analysis is performative, pertaining to the relationships photographs form, I argue for the essential contingency of ideas that in retrospect have been identified as fundamental to antisemitic arguments.

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COLA Seminar Probes Shifting Identity of ‘Whiteness’ in America

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Religion, United States, Virginia on 2014-11-29 01:34Z by Steven

COLA Seminar Probes Shifting Identity of ‘Whiteness’ in America

University of Virginia
College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
2014-11-17

Anne Bromley / UVa Today

The category of “white” as the majority race against which other groups have been described in the United States might seem well-defined, but it has been anything but that throughout American history.

In the past decade, scholars digging into primary sources have found that at certain times, some ethnic groups that one might think of as being “white” today – including Irish or Scotch-Irish, Italian, Jewish and Polish – were not considered to be white like Anglo-Saxon whites at various times and places. These attitudes led to economic and social conditions often enforced by law.

In her first-year seminar, or COLA, “Whiteness: A Racial Category,” assistant professor of religious studies Jalane Schmidt aims to show how whiteness, not just blackness, has been a shifting category and has served to exclude or include certain ethnic groups or races over time and in different parts of the country. Legal and social conditions defining who was considered black or white also demonstrate that being white has not been a hard-and-fast identity…

…“Whiteness is the elephant in the room that needs to be examined,” Schmidt said. “We’re used to studying racism as the exclusion of ‘others.’ But we’re not used to framing racism as, in part, an anxious effort (legal, social, cultural, etc.) to protect and prop up the perennially unstable racial category known as whiteness.”…

…Instead of fighting injustices under which both groups suffered, the Irish chose to join the privileged category, and this happened with other ethnic groups, too, Schmidt said. Just as children who go to a different school when their families move have to learn what the social scene is like, new immigrants in America had to learn a new set of social codes eventually, she said, giving up Gaelic language and ceasing to mix with black people.

The class is also studying how the definition of “white” changed over time in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson defined “the American” as “Anglo Saxon” and had a low opinion of the Scotch-Irish settlers of Appalachia, whose proximity to Indians, he wrote, had allegedly rendered them “wild,” Schmidt said.

A recent guest speaker to the class, Cinder Stanton, former head historian at Monticello, talked about her research on slavery at Jefferson’s plantation home and on the progeny of Jefferson and the slave Sally Hemings, the topics of her book, “Those Who Labor for My Happiness.” The descendants who defined themselves as black knew about and embraced their heritage. Those who passed as white, however, such as Eston and Julia Hemings, left behind their mixed ancestry and changed their name; their white descendants didn’t know they were related to Jefferson and Hemings until they found out from Stanton during her fieldwork…

Read the entire article here.

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A Profound Documentary, Little White Lie Follows a Woman’s Search for Her Identify

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-11-28 21:47Z by Steven

A Profound Documentary, Little White Lie Follows a Woman’s Search for Her Identify

The Village Voice
New York, New York
2014-11-26

Diana Clarke

In Woodstock, New York, at the end of the 20th century, Lacey Schwartz was raised in an affluent Jewish household where something was slightly off. Darker-skinned than her mother and father, Schwartz fielded probing questions about her race from a young age, but refused to entertain the possibility that she was not the biological offspring of her two white parents. When Lacey was in high school, her parents’ marriage collapsed, and so did the veneer of her identity. Schwartz’s subsequent investigation resulted in this profound and engaging documentary

Read the entire review here.

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Going to College and Learning You’re Black: The Moving Story of Little White Lie

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2014-11-28 18:30Z by Steven

Going to College and Learning You’re Black: The Moving Story of Little White Lie

Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair’s Hollywood
2014-11-25

Chase Quinn

“You boys are black, and don’t you forget that.”

From an early age I was taught that both my black identity and my white-Irish identity were important, and that I was never to relinquish either from my understanding of who I was. Watching Lacey Schwartz’s thought-provoking documentary Little White Lie— now in limited release and airing on PBS March 23—I was reminded of this formative experience, the wisdom of these seemingly competing messages and the diverse range of biracial narratives out there.

Little White Lie traces the story of Schwartz’s discovery of her mixed-race heritage after 18 years believing she was the product of two white, Jewish parents. After submitting a photo of herself with her undergraduate application to Georgetown and being contacted by their black student alliance, she begins to question the story she’s been told about who she is and that of her parents’ picture-perfect marriage. Ultimately she’s forced to confront her mother about a secret affair with Schwartz’s biological father, a black man and longtime family friend, and reexamine who she is as person…

Read the entire review here.

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