A misunderstood southern white jew

Benjamin Beadle,
New Orleans, LA

I was born and raised in Louisiana. I was raised a Christian on my father’s side and Jewish on my mothers side. I was raised by a vocal and intelligent female rabbi and educated sister. My father worked his but of for the Corp of Engineers for 38 years providing for us.

My father’s side has been in Louisiana since 1750. We never owned a plantation or any slaves as the southern white stereotype likes to assume. My Grandfather ran a local clothing shop in Lafayette snd taught his children the values of saving money, being frugal, education, and hard work. My father’s side is 1/2 cajun and 1/2 English Anglican.

My mother’s side is Jewish living in Germany until 1939 when we were forced to escape. My Grandfather went to New York and started a law firm that offers many services to the Jewish community.

My Aunt and Uncle now run this business. My mother moved down to the South because she decided to pursue an education at Tulane University. She winded up meeting my father and having two kids.

I was raised on Jewish and Christian holidays. I went to catholic school most of my life. So I guess you could say I have experienced the full American diverse experience of three different cultures.

Most Judaism was being raised with the awareness of Jewish suffering over the years, Christian compassion, and catholic rules and traditions. My mother raised us to love Jesus and be caring about the lives of other because of the roots of our Jewish past. This had a major impact on me. Compassionate Conservative I guess you could say

My sister has now devoted her life to service to both the Jewish and Christian community and has married a wonderful Rabbi which she now has two children with.

Now about this project. As a Christian and a Jew raised in the south I have seen both sides of the race issue. I have many close dear black friends that have opened my eyes to the disparities between whites and blacks in our country. This has enlightened me on many issues and I can usually empathize with there suffering because my Jewish side suffered a lot as well over the tears. But luckily my family never owned slaves or did sharecropping or was really involved with rise of the klan in the south. What I know of and have been told about my father’s side was we lived in slave and jim crow south but never really practiced the culture which was imposed by government through government force.

The democratic party had monopoly control of our state for some 100 years really until the 1980’s. Luckily my father’s side never participated in the owning of slaves, their trade, and sale or the owning of sharecroppers and thereof. The democratic party had this control because of a literacy and payroll tax which affected poor whites and poor blacks ensuring the democratic party of the south maintain monopoly control and kept voter turnout low. The democrats of the south also restricted republicans at the time to assert this monopoly control. To me this might have been what inspired the democratic party to be so much more open and inclusive now then they used to be. This and the voices of so many black people that were tired of being used and mistreated. The long legacy of democratic parties support of Jim Crow, segregation, voter suppression, and slavery is finally what pushed them to embrace more voices and change and become a better party.

This to me explains how Racism and segregation became so intertwined into Southern Culture. Along with the belief of American and White Supremacy through the ideas of Manifest Destiny and the White Man’s burden to Christianize and colonize the world.

I think most people tend to forget too that slavery was a worldwide institution and still is to this day is practiced in many ways in many countries. This is not to downplay America’s role in slavery but more too zoom out and realize that it is a human issue and thus should be seen as a human issue instead of an exclusively white American issue. In fact Slavic people or the origin of the word Slav actually comes from the fact Slavic white women were traded as slaves for thousands of years. The root of the word slave comes from the selling of white slaves by African and Arabic merchants. This practice was of worldwide institution for some 4,000 years affecting all races and genders.

In fact the Eurasian idea of Enlightenment which led to the ideas of individual rights, rights to life, and rights to personal property, and speech rights is what eventually led to the freeing and liberation from ownership of so many thousands and millions of slaves over the next hundreds of years.

Sorry I am getting off-topic. I just have two degrees in History so I put much focus into studying these issues. But basically the point if my story is I was raised Jewish and Christian so it has made me a very open-minded person so hence how I can relate to both sides of many topics because the Christian and Jewish experiences have been the same and vastly different in many many ways.

Thank You for you time. I graciously hope I am selected for your project. I think being able to speak freely about such issues as this is so vastly important to our culture at this time. I am hopeful that your website can be a tool to open up about even more conversations.


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