Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cultural Norms

I haven’t posted in a while, but I had a sobering conversation today. I am a special education teacher. I work in an environment almost completely surrounded by blacks, and I keep my yarmulke on. I have a girl who substitutes in my class from time to time. She’s very nice. She’s from Guyana. She was telling me about the house her family owns in Guyana, and that her whole family is here in he states. I asked what her family does with a house there, and she said it’s a two family house. They rent out the bottom floor, and use the top for family who visits, or sometimes rent out the top to tourists. I jokingly said I’d love to go to Guyana for a visit, and she says, “No, you’re a rich Jew. You’d be beaten and robbed in two minutes flat”. I was a bit taken back, and asked if she thought I was a rich Jew. She said, “of course you are, all Jews are rich”. She then asked why I think Jews are hated. Mind you, she is not a mean angry lady, just a young 20 something person. I countered with asking if there was a problem with the expectation of being robbed as a cultural norm, and she said, and I quote, “you are rich, and Guyana people are poor. Of course you should be robbed”.
I thought about this and responded, you know, if you went to the poorest Jewish part of Israel, you may be beaten on if you dress immodestly. But you’d still wake up with your wallet. It seemed to give her pause for thought. But maybe not.

7 comments:

SuperRaizy said...

I don't know what is more appalling, that she thinks that all Jews are rich, or that she said "Of course you should be robbed".

Lion of Zion said...

my indian organic chem professor once made a comment to me about jews being rich, but he didn't take it to the same sick conclusion that your colleague did.
(he was really such a sweet guy and truly meant no mallice, but its amazing how much a stereotype can take root in an intelligent and kindhearted peson)

i tried calling you last night to return the medicine.

Shalom said...

Did you really mean that she's a special ed teacher--or student?

G6 said...

Wow...
A sobering conversation to be sure.

Lakewood Falling Down said...

Super Raizy-let me tell you this. I lent this young lady $5.00the day before & she gave returned it the following day with a sincere thank you. It was normal, lending co-worker $5.00. To me, it's an example of Eisav hates Yaakov. To her, there is this weird disconnect between the Jewish people as a whole and every individual she knows who is Jewish that she says she likes on a personal level.
LOZ- Keep the medicine. Get some sleep. Have Nachas! And BTW, this girl is sweet, nice, and goes out of her way to keep the students happy, cleaned, and fed (it's a very hard population in my class). Like you said "but its amazing how much a stereotype can take root in an intelligent and kindhearted peson"
Shalom- Scary isn't it!
G6- We, even in the holy Flatbush, are in Galus...

N said...

I find stereotypes to be a bizarre anomaly in our psyche, and it's hardly even displayed the animal kingdom. BTW, can we blogroll each otherplease? Please reply by email

Eric V said...

Just a thought but, IMHO perhaps all it takes is a little change of tone to set the ball in motion for positive change, like not using the term "blacks".