People label me white. Thank goodness.

Jeremiah Friedman,
Durham, NH

As a young man of Polish heritage from both sides of my family, I have many of the physical characteristics that Jews of Eastern Europe share: olive skin, a bumped nose, and curly brown hair. One hundred years ago, my physical characteristics would have placed me in a class of people outside of the “safe zone” that is whiteness in America. I would not have been able to feel such security when I’ve been talking with police officers. I could possibly have been turned away from the university I attend just due to my name. Being labeled as white in America has always left doors open, and never closed them. Being labelled as white gives me freedoms and protections not enjoyed by Americans of different complexions and other racially labeled attributes. Over the past hundred years, American society has chosen to expand the vague term of whiteness to include Jews like myself. Thank goodness.

 

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