Friday, July 17, 2009

A Jewish Girl Grows in Brooklyn

by today's Urban Chameleon contributor

There is another side to the plight of the Urban Chameleon if anyone was wondering. Every story is not necessarily from the Black world to the White world. Like my world for example: The white, Jewish world. I am not white enough to be white and not Black enough to be Black. I exist in both, but don’t belong to either. In truth both are worlds I slip in and out of. But even my Jewish world isn’t all my own. See, in the world of a New York Jewess there are micro-worlds, smaller sections in the big beautiful scheme of Jewish culture.

There are the Black Hats that walk around fully covered, not showing an inkling of alabaster skin, devout. There are the hippie Jews who go to the love-ins and speak about the light of Hashem (Jewish word for G-d) etc. Then there are the Jews who don’t want to be Jews and lie to their Wall Street friends, throwing that Menorah in the sink and resurrecting a tree just so they can drink the proverbial eggnog in December. Then there’s me and my type of Jews, we love Judaism, we love food, we are outspoken, passionate, and aggressive. It’s funny because even when you feel like you should belong to a group you don’t.

I grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Queens, and we were the outcasts of the neighborhood. We weren’t Jewish enough. We were reformed and everyone else was conservative. This was a big deal, because we were the only family eating bacon double cheeseburgers, and driving on Saturdays if you get my meaning. It never really bothered me so much until one day I was playing with my only friend in the neighborhood across the street. They were shunned as well, from the rest of the neighbors in my neighborhood: they were Cuban. I loved them and me and the youngest daughter in the family were best playmates. One hot summer day I was playing and had to go to the bathroom, but my Mom wasn’t home and neither was the girl’s family. So, I figured I would hold it till either my family or hers arrived home. But after a while, I couldn’t.

So, I proceeded to knock on every door on my block to see if I could use their bathroom. I mean they knew who I was after all, what was the harm? Picture it: a cute, short freckled face, curled haired little girl with her legs crossed standing at your door, asking to use the bathroom. I figured it would be no problem.

But not one person would let me use their toilet, not one single person.

I guess, I wasn’t Jewish enough for them, not Jewish enough to use their toilet.

When my Mom arrived home, she found me with wet shorts sitting on our doorstep. She marched down the block and knocked on each door and gave them something to think on, my Mom was good at that. And even though I hoped if it happened again I would have been able to rely on my own people to help me, my Mom made me carry a set of keys on me from that day forward…

There are always going to be people who think you aren’t enough- enough. That’s why we exist in multiple worlds at the same time. It gets lonely when you can’t feel welcomed by your people, sometimes finding a sister in another world fills you with a sense of belonging you never had, and that’s a good thing.

When I arrived at college I sort of accidentally landed upon a group of young Black women, all of whom echoed similar attributes to myself having a multifaceted way of looking at the world. I felt immediately drawn in and welcomed. They had me at “hello.” When I was with them I was free to be me in many ways: unencumbered by the confines of what it means to be white or what it meant to be Jewish.

Through out our friendship that still exist today having first attended a predominantly white University I witnessed how they existed in contradicting worlds. It was in those first few years that I discovered the chameleon code and realized who I was was just fine.

So you see it doesn't matter where you come from, there are Urban Chameleons of multiple shades and backgrounds creeping in the shadows and dancing in the bright light of the world, and if you look closely you can spot us because we have a knowing glimmer in our eye.

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click here for: How The Urban Chameleon Came To Be


My site was nominated for a Black Weblog Award!

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