Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg
+ Your AuthorsArchive @TheRaDR Rabbi & author. Next book on repentance & repair in the public square in 2022. Scholar in Residence @NCJW. Bylines NYT, WaPo, Time, etc. she/her. Opinions mine. Jun. 07, 2020 2 min read

It’s true that Jews were not coded as white in Europe, very much the opposite. And that our white privilege in the US is conditional.

AND it’s also true that in the US, built as it is (literally) on antiblackness, I am seen as white & afforded the protections of whiteness in +

Pretty much every aspect of my life. In stores, when I get health care, when I interact with police, around my education and career, as a parent, etc.

To deny that would be totally disingenuous as well as dismissive of the ways that racism functions in American society.

I’m white, there’s no denying it.

Do Jews who are marked more visibly as Jews by clothing, hair etc. experience more anti-Jewish hatred? No doubt.

Does that mean that white privilege is not a thing? No. Is it sometimes complicated for Jews when whites supremacists want +

Us dead? Yep, that’s why we talk about conditional whiteness.

But white Jews were still nonetheless able to start grabbing white privilege a few generations ago and the only reason we could was because of antiblackness. We can only be allies in the fight against racism +

When we acknowledge this—the unfair advantages those of us with white skin are afforded as a result of that skin in a white supremacist society.

More on Jewish assimilation, becoming white here:

And obviously there are Jews who are Black and Latinx and indigenous and Asian and Asian-American and Arab and many other things. I’m obviously only talking about Jews who have white skin privilege and apologize for not being more precise in my language.

AND, to clarify, we need to hold this with everything @BulldogShadow articulates so powerfully in this piece. Both/and

 https://www.politicalresearch.org/2017/06/29/skin-in-the-game-how-antisemitism-animates-white-nationalism/ 

And to clarify, imho “white-passing” is a misnomer. It implies possibly getting away with something. When a doctor or cop or etc. finds out you’re a Jew, they continue treating you as white. Because: Whiteness has expanded to include Jews, has done so since the GI Bill.

Thinking about Nella Larsen, “passing” implies that if the person read as white is discovered to be not-white, there are consequences to that. Except in white nationalist/Nazi circles, that’s not the case for Jews.

Because: not passing. Just white. (Conditional, bc Nazis!)

Or a more common example today, tho note that many trans people hate the word “passing” bc it implies intended deception rather than, like, just existing as a human being and others respond to that human with their biases or perceptions and assumptions...

If someone finds out a trans person who was read as cis (note “read as”, the interpretation is the cis person’s of the trans person who is busy just existing) is actually trans, they may face discrimination or real actual danger.

Unless you’re a Jew infiltrating Nazi space (shoutout to the brave folks who do this to take down white supremacy), very much not the same for Jews.

TL;dr. White Jews are white.

It’s ok to say that.

I’m white. I’m Jew. There’s no tension there.

This piece may be useful for some folks.


You can follow @TheRaDR.



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