In Praise of Diversity and How I’m Almost a Jew

The other day I was out with some friends of friends in Los Angeles.  It was a group comprised of some very cool people.  Way back yonder, far beyond yesteryear, I worked at a little channel that used to show music videos.  Now, they show trash that washes up on the Jersey Shore.  The people I was hanging with had also worked at the MVC – the music video channel.  We weren’t all there at the same time, but they knew the people I knew, so it was a fun trip down memory lane.  Plus, the drinks were paid for by the current company – all these creative types worked for – and that’s a major bonus.

Double bonus — everyone at the table was pretty diverse.  There was the red-headed-tattooed-creative type, a white couple, two gays, and a beautiful Asian-Latino couple.

Now, you have to understand – I was raised in and around New York city, which is 40% foreign born.  New York’s middle name is diverse, diverse, diverse.  But, then I moved to  Scotland, which is about 94% white.  I’m not kidding.  I believe the missing 6% in the Scottish population-diversity number is made up of their grey sheep.  Grey sheep that simply need a bath.  I’m sorry, Scotland, but the sheep do not get to be your ethnic minority.

If this is your minority, I can't help you. (All rights reserved, gaping void - link below.)

I say all of this to you because I’m starved for diversity.  I am starved for diversity like a person in the desert is starved for water.  You know how that kind of thirst makes you hallucinate things?  Well, in me, this diversity-starvation has created a neediness that causes strange behavior.

As a result, I had a small freak-out with the uber-cool, Latino-Asian, couple.  Once I found out the guy was Latino and of Panamanian origins, I said, “Hey, I’m half Colombian.  This is my Colombian family,” and I thrust my phone in his face displaying a picture of my very brown first cousins, aunt, and uncle.  I’m not kidding.  I really did this.

This is what a lot of my family looks like...

...this is what I have looked like, through out various stages of my life.

Right after that happened, I felt like an a-hole.  I mean, honestly, it was the equivalent of saying to a black person, “Hey, I have black kids!  These are my black kids,” and thrusting a picture of some very angry adoptees into their faces.  And there’s no explaining it.  You can’t go backwards.  You can’t go, “Sorry, I’m diversity-deprived and even though I look very white, I’m a mix of Latino and black INSIDE.”

Because that’s how I’ve always felt.  I feel like I have the spirit of a black woman INSIDE and I actually DO have a similar bloodline to Sofia Vergara.  At least 50% of me is Sofia Vergara-ish.  Maybe not in looks, but definitely in spirit.

It's not easy feeling like this...

...and looking like this!

I also feel like a Jew.  Here are some of the reasons why —

  • I’m a comedian.  (This is a very common profession among the sons and daughters of Zion.  Can I say that?  Son of Zion?  It means Jewish, right?)
  • I love brisket.
  • My best friend is Jewish.  (She really is!  I know it’s the equivalent of saying, “My best friend is black” – but, mine really is.  I have one bff who’s a Jew and the other one who is a lovely black lady.  What do you do when the cliches are true??!!  What the feck do you do?  Well, start a blog, of course.)
  • My Jewish bff says I always “confess” things and she says that this proclivity is very Jewish.
  • I love bagels and cream cheese.  I mean love them.  It’s one of the things that I missed the most when I was out of the country.  It’s also one of the things I miss the most about the East Coast because the bagels aren’t the same here.  They are, I don’t know, too sunny.
  • I’m not sure I believe in Jesus.  God, yes, but Jesus?  Yes, he could be the son of God, but he could’ve also been just a man.  A miracle working man that a very horrible tragedy happened to and then everyone worshipped – sort of like Madonna.  (Wait, what horrible thing happened to Madonna?  Mesh, that’s what.  80‘s Mesh of all sorts.  Mesh tank tops.  Mesh tights.  No to the Mesh.  I know it doesn’t compare to a crucifixion, but it IS a tragedy nonetheless.)
  • I find certain sects of Judaism to be more open than other religions.
  • I like that rabbis can marry.
  • I wish I had gone to summer camp even once.  Preferably a singing, make-out, type of Jewish, summer camp.
  • I want to go on that Israel birthright trip, though now I’d be the oldest one there.  Can I go as a chaperone?
  • The last time I performed in Alaska, someone yelled out, “Why do you sound Jewish?”  I suppose they meant New Yorkey, but it made my heart smile nonetheless.
  • There is nothing more dramatic than a familial Holocaust story.  Nothing.  I’m a drama major, of sorts, and while horrible, a good Holocaust story is the stuff of storytelling LEGEND.  Genocide and slavery.  If you have one of those atrocities in your background, you ALWAYS have a historical perspective like none other.

I have a Jewish bloodline.  Hold up.  How does the Irish-American-Colombian girl have a Jewish bloodline?

My ancestors started the oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere.  That synagogue is in Curacao.  I am a descendant of Naphtali, one of the ten brothers who came over from Portugal – a Jew from Portugal – and started the synagogue with his family.  From there, the Naphtali line went on to Colombia, where my mother was born.

Naphtali means “my struggle” in Hebrew and somehow deep in my heart, I really relate to this ancestor of mine.  Okay, maybe its just his name.  I mean, I have constantly struggled and toiled, so much so that it makes perfect sense to me that I am the descendant of a man literally named “My Struggle”.  If I find out that I have a Native American relative who was known as, “Chief Likes to Yell as Catharsis for Laughs” then I’ll know God is smiling at me with a nudge, nudge, and a wink, wink and yet, at the same time, my existence will make perfect sense.

And the Jews like to kvetch and I know what this means and I thoroughly enjoy it in practice.  I relish in it in when it comes to my writing.  I’m a kvetching-Naphtali of sorts.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is – I have a black girl in my heart and a Latina-Jew (or La-Jew) in my bloodline.  So, things are not always what they seem from the outside.  When a white girl slams her phone in your face and shrieks, “LOOK AT THESE BROWN PEOPLE, THEY ARE MY RELATIVES,” or something close to that – it means, she’s home.  She’s happy.  She loves her new, vibrant, Los Angeles, rainbow.  Thank God there’s some color and variety in this great big glass of white milk, we call society.  I’d get all dehydrated without it.

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Photo creds:  leprechaun, sofia, latin kids, irish girls, gaping void

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52 thoughts on “In Praise of Diversity and How I’m Almost a Jew

  1. Wow you know more about Judaism than I do, and I was allegedly supposed to become a rabbi. (at least if my mother had her way).

    It is true that we Jews are a comedic people. After millenniums of bondage and being blamed for the death of Jesus, you kind of need a sense of humor to get through the day. That and a good piece of cake.

    1. very true that the jews are a comedic people. thank god…or should i thank abraham? lol. my brother knows even more than i do. he can recite that entire prayer in hewbrew – baruch atoy adunie….you know, that one…i was spelling it phonetically, of course. lol. xo, sm

  2. The town I live in is very much like the Scottish sheep town except we don’t have sheep–although in the one town over some guy had sex with a pig so that’s some kind of diversity I guess. Lack of diversity makes a town very weird. We also have shit bagels. I don’t know if that’s connected.

    1. totally connected. pig-feckers in the general vicinity means horrible bagels and high unemployment. there have been studies. i suggest…MOVE, very quickly. lol. xo, sm

  3. I think you need my last name. With it, people assume I am Jewish, which I am not. Nor is my husband. I guess someone on his side was at sometime, so it’s technically in his blood, but his Nordic blondness kind of overshadows that. But my point is, and I do have one though it is not at all important, we have both faced many years of employment under supervisors who just assumed we would be happy to work Christmas…

    1. lllllooooooooolllllll, hysterical. i DREAM of the moment another jew invites me to a chinese food restaurant on christmas! that would mean i have arrived. lol. hysterical comment, carrie. xo, me

  4. (Note to self: Don’t read whilst scrolling)
    I took that as “I like that rabbits can marry.” and wondered how I’d never before realised that was a Jewish thing….

  5. You crave diversity? Try living in Sotogrande. 2500 residents, one black man, his name is Douglas and he’s British. At parties people ask him where he’s from and when he answers they say, no, tell us where are you actually FROM.
    The first time I saw him at the supermarket everyone was circling him and glancing at one another not quite knowing how to react. Last time I saw him was at a lunch thing and a woman just walked up to him and said: “I love the way YOUR PEOPLE dance. Yes, that’s verbatim.
    BTW, I’ve been practicing for the picture I’m going to send you. Depressing. I look old and can see a bit of jowling. Is there supposed to be jowling at 34?

    1. omg! that poor black, brit, guy! rescue him! start an underground railroad, that’s ridiculous! if only the spaniards realized that in the united states their spanishness and that guy’s blackness would all be grouped together…loooooollll!

    2. and you don’t look jowly. you look rich. at least that’s what i say to myself when i feel jowly, it’s just because i can afford soooo much food. is that too much? lol.

      1. I deleted the jowly picture, it’s sooooo not the one I posted… It’s scary. It’s like my chin decided to get pregnant and is currently expecting 2 gaybies.
        …and btw, anglo-saxon racism/snobbery is nowhere near a match for the Iberian variety. This is a part of the world where even the maid can trace her ancestry back to the year 1600 (at least) and some conquistador who settled a colony 😀
        Scary stuff…

  6. Sending you multi-culti vibes from my office in midtown Manhattan. I’m Irish/Italian but everyone assumes I’m Jewish too because I have lots of curly hair and a New York accent. Plus, I was a shabbat goy in college, so my Jewish friends made me an honorary member of the tribe.

    Also, that’s a very cool Sephardic lineage you have there. L’chaim!

    1. ha, ha, and i tip my hat to you on your knowledge of the whole sephardic lineage concept. it is interesting this family history stuff. my irish side, less so. lots of beer, oops, we ran out of potatoes, we’re really hungry, let’s get on a boat. that’s the story on that side. thank you for the multi-culti vibes, there’s something about you that makes me miss manhattan! but, i’m sure i’ll be back there for a visit soon enough…thanks for commenting, sweet lady, momma loves having you here. 😉 – sm

  7. hahaha…nice one… i like the fact that you are so open minded and nice about world being a diverse place….. Hats off Sweet Mom…
    funny thing… where i come from everyone wants to be white, despite being a land of diverse religions … 😛 its a strange world 🙂

    1. where do you come from, little miss… there’s something oh, so, belarus about you. lol. i’m completely making that up. so interesting, isn’t it? i do think that the CITIES of the u.s. and some small other enclaves have really embraced diversity in the modern age, some of the more rural areas, not so much, but at least we’ve come a long way…

  8. I missed out on the whole birth right trip. I’m Jewish but I never got any of the perks. No batmitzvah, no trip to Israel. Just the jokes about being a Polish Jew. I have some ruthless friends and a mom who didn’t take me to temple.

  9. I’m a British-South African with a Jewish adoptive father married to an Afrikaaner. I’m not a full Jew, only Jew-ish.

    A proper pavement-special! If you love diversity then you’ll love South Africa. We have 11 offical languages and everyone has a mixed cultural heritage. It is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities.

  10. Diversity abounds in my corner of the world—the diplomatic plates on some of the cars might have something to do with it…. 😉

    I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love hitting DC and trying to figure out how many languages I’m hearing around me. And it makes for some incredible restaurant options, too.

  11. God and/or Jesus forgive me, but I did laugh outloud at this sentence:
    A miracle working man that a very horrible tragedy happened to and then everyone worshipped – sort of like Madonna. (Wait, what horrible thing happened to Madonna? Mesh, that’s what. 80‘s Mesh of all sorts. Mesh tank tops. Mesh tights. No to the Mesh. I know it doesn’t compare to a crucifixion, but it IS a tragedy nonetheless.)

  12. “I wish I had gone to summer camp even once. Preferably a singing, make-out, type of Jewish, summer camp.”

    I think this is something everyone should do, Jewish or not…

    1. hello jules, thank you for this. i do accept and i appreciate it. i promise to follow the rules later this week and to pay it forward. many thanks again. really appreciated. much love, mother

  13. You’ve just given me the best reason of all for visiting NYC Mum!
    50 years ago Australia was white, white,white, the food was horrible – chops and three veg that had been boiled to death – and the culture was parochial ‘ocker’ or ‘British wannabe’. Then the immigrants hit 😀 Now I think we’re probably closer to your NYC than anything else and loving it.
    My own family came here as refugees from Hungary in 1957. I married an Anglo-Indian from Calcutta and the whole family has intermarried with foodie ‘wogs’* from all over the world. Life is good!

    wog* = anyone from a european, non-anglo saxon background.

  14. I am about as white as they come (one of my unfortunate high school nicknames was Casper, as in the Friendly Ghost), and too find myself fighting off the compulsion to wave photos of my half-Columbian decended-from-the-Great-Jew friends in the faces of people to prove I have diverse friends. At least you have some full Latino to show off.

    My main diversity proof now is all my lesbian friends. That kind of diversity impresses most people outside of San Francisco so I use it often. Totally impressed some Canadian lesbians I met recently. That or they thought I was cute. It’s so hard to tell.

  15. I’m not Jewish, nor do i wish to be…or black for that matter. I have enough trouble aspiring to be an aging white woman with no dancing abilities whatsoever. I’d lay claim to Sophia’s boobs though. 😉

  16. I feel connected to the Jewish community in a way, myself. A great great uncle of mine died in a concentration camp.

    Fell out of a guard tower.

    (HA!)

    Okay, but in all seriousness, now:
    In regards to believing in Jesus, there is actually a disturbing amount of evidence indicating that Jesus was not actually a real person at all. For example, the oldest written record that mentions Jesus dates to several hundred years after his alleged death. There’s a documentary about it, made by a former evangelist. I think it’s called “The God Who Wasn’t There”.

    I haven’t done any research on the matter, myself, but the idea is novel and intriguing.

  17. “I wish I had gone to summer camp even once. Preferably a singing, make-out, type of Jewish, summer camp.”

    I too wish I had a Wet Hot American Summer moment.

  18. I love this SO MUCH, moms! I think I’ve also tried to prove how “diverse” I am by telling others about how I am distantly related to a Jewish contingent of my family. Of course, I’m as WASPy as can be but the fact that my dad’s great-uncle was married to a Jewish lady somehow gives me a bit more worldliness. I doubt these same people would claim my uber-Presbyterian family as part of their clan, though.

    Also, I remember back when MVC was awesome; I could have guessed you had something to do with it.

  19. I read somewhere that there are three times more sheep in Ireland than humans. I’m sure the same is true about Scotland. So no matter the colour, humans are a minority, anyway.

  20. We all started somewhere…if we happen to trace it back or could be on that show where celebrities find out where their ancestors came from, I bet we’d all find a little of this, a little of that in our lineage which is fine by me. Where I am, I’m always exposed to several cultures and most are the same — they want to matter, be heard and be respected. I think it’s cool what you did — to me it would be a compliment. Nice post, M. :).

  21. I’d like to invite you to southeastern Oklahoma. When people here talk about “diversity,” what they mean is “the basketball team.”

  22. Hubby and I were waiting in line to go to a soccer game a few weekends ago, this cute older lady came up to us and asked if we were registered to vote yet. Hubby said yes, and I told her very nicely, I couldn’t vote.
    She looked at me and said: And why is that?
    I politely answered: Because I’m not a US Citizen.
    Then the cutness in her face was completely gone and she said: You don’t SOUND like you’re foreign.
    Like I was lying to her or something, just to get out of registering to vote!?
    ….weird…
    I miss diversity too… it’s an old old wooden ship, right?

    1. looool, yes, i believe it is ‘an old wooden ship’. ‘you don’t sound like you’re foreign’ — ay yay yay, sometimes my own people embarrass me. glad you’re here tho. xo, sm

  23. Heheh, thanks for brightening up my day with this bit of info. I love it multiculturality too, though I can’t boast about awesome bloodlines. My granddad was of Belgian descent and I’m Dutch. Hardly something to write home about, is it? All it leaves me is being daft at times and some red in my otherwise perfectly dark brownish hair ;p

    I did try to persuade the boyfriend last week in trying to have ourselves adopted by people in either Africa or Asia, so we would have cheap places to sleep when we’d go visiting relatives.

    He raised an okay point; he said that maybe our current families would mind.

    Ah well. I tried 😦

  24. I’m a Jew! And I did go to a Jewish summer camp, which I fondly refer to as Jew-Camp (that does sound terrible though since you also brought up the Holocaust stuff. All these years I never understood why people were laughing uncomfortably when I said Jew-Camp) We did do much singing and making-out for sure. When people tell me they went to summer camp and it wasn’t Jewish, I’m honestly not sure what they even did. We did all the normal stuff like sports and arts and crafts, but we also had Jewish learning, tons of prayers and Shabbat related activities, and took daily naps. What do normal kids at camp do with all that extra free time? Probably give each other STDs

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