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