Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

I Don’t Completely Get It

And I will never completely get it because I am a white, Conservative Jew.  Yes, I am a minority, but I am lucky enough that I can pretty much blend in whenever I want to.  Unless someone is particularly fanatical, lucky and has phenomenal Jewdar, they are not generally going to detect that I am Jewish.  I generally do not cover my head with a kippah in public except when I am going to, and coming home from, synagogue.  I eat vegetarian in non-kosher restaurants.  I am out and about on Saturdays.  I am proud of my Jewishness – it is part of the very core of my personal identity – but it is not something that is always readily discernible from purely visual observation.

Yes, I can see what happens and I can know what happens; I can learn about it, both from the history of our country and from the many different years and places of discrimination that Jews have been subjected to throughout our history.  Still, because I can easily blend in – because I possess white privilege – I will not really know it firsthand.  Because of this I will never have to worry about what President Obama spoke about this afternoon and what every African American goes through merely from living their everyday lives.

I will never have to worry that some want-to-be cop will presume I am armed and dangerous just because I am wearing a hoodie and walking on the street.

I will never have people follow me in department stores, and elsewhere, because the color of my skin makes them believe I am more likely to steal or be violent.

I will never have people click their car doors locked because I walk by.

I will never have people clutch their belongings in an elevator, or elsewhere, because the color of my skin makes them believe I could rob them at any moment.

I will never experience countless other indignities because I had the simple fate to be born white in the United States of America.

And this, of course, doesn’t touch upon the added privileges that come with my being born male in this country.

The difference, however, between liberals and progressives such as ourselves, and conservatives is that we recognize the existence of white privilege.  We do not ignore the fact that racism exists.  We do not believe that the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States did anything to eliminate that racism.

Instead, President Obama’s election has brought that racism back out into the open.  Even with all the platitudes, and the claimed changes, it still existed, lurking beneath the surface.  Now, however, it is once again open.  Sure, many on the right veil it in criticism of the president, but the language speaks for itself.  It is the language of white privilege and it is the language of racism.

President Barack Obama spoke this afternoon about his experiences and I listened because that is what I can do and I learned because that is what I can do and I can use that going forward.  However, despite all the words anyone says, and all that I can observe and listen and learn, I will never know what it is like to be IN his shoes.  I will never completely get it, but I can help do my little part in eventually ending it.  I doubt it will completely end in my lifetime, but I think my generation (those 30 and under – and yes I am still under 30 for just under six more months) can go a long way to making it happen one day.


  1. Mets102

    reacted to the Cheerios commercial with a big “So what?”, but that isn’t nearly enough and there are still too many racists, even within my own generation.  It isn’t ending anytime soon, but as a liberal I suppose I have to have hope in addition to actually taking action and standing with my fellow countrymen and countrywomen in the fight for full equality and an end to racism.

  2. FFDIL (fabulous future daughter in law) spent more than a college semester in India at a girls’ school, and then she taught grade school for 2 years in the Mississippi Delta. She’s a white girl, freckles and tan hair, and grew up here, a relatively multi-cultural town. She was in Chicago for 4th of July, with her sister and another white-girl Mississippi teacher. They ended up at an El station. And she said she realized after thinking about it that everyone around her was black. But she had to notice it, because it was so usual and comfortable for her.

    Hope and change… We need both. We have both. But with change there is backlash. We’ve gone backwards in some ways several decades. We will stand and we will fight back.

    And we have our kids to stand with us.

  3. HappyinVT

    who was at a party and who was asked by a guest to get him a drink because the guest thought the African American was a waiter.  The party was held in 2003 and the African American was State Senator Barack Obama.

    The only thing that made Trayvon different from other teenagers of today was the color of his skin and anyone who thinks Zimmerman would have followed a white kid is deluding themselves.

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