Many of these contributions come from Keith Ellis McCarty’s blog, where he shared a series of personal experiences from Jewish contributors to Tumblr. I added some of my own experiences to this list.
Jewish privilege is:
… being told that all Jews are “white” and part of an “oppressor” class, despite Jews actually being Sephardic (Hispanic), Maghrebi (North African), Mizrach (middle-eastern) or Ashkenazi (recognized and persecuted as non-white, non-European, by all European Christian groups for the last 1000 years) [RK]
…. hearing public school students tell you “The Nazis should have won the war. They were the good guys” [RK]
…vhearing students tell you “Jewish doctors use vaccines to give you AIDS” [RK]
… having co-workers tell a student “you’re a Jew. You must have money.” [RK]
… being physically assaulted and sworn at by Palestinian activists, suffering taunts of “you dirty Jews are murderers of innocent children”, when one visibly appears Jewish, and walks by a demonstration in London (or on many college campuses in the USA) [A.R.]
… going to visit the Jewish History museum in New York – and knowing you’re in the right place before you can check the signs – because there are police permanently stationed outside
…getting worried whenever something happens in Israel, and being worried about how this will change attitudes towards Jews.
…considering whether you should give your actual name – or your middle name or a Christian name
…having to explain your holidays and festivals in terms of Christian festivals.
… barely learning anything about the Jewish faith at school – except in relation to the Nazis, and even then no one ever spoke about Jewish resistance. In religious studies we learned about Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism. We even learned about Islam.
…living in England and being terrified when anti-Semites are reported to be on the rise in France ,because you know there’s a very real chance it will spread to England.
…not telling people that you’re Jewish, and, in my case, preparing the defence that my mother’s from a Christian family (she converted, but they don’t need to know), and using that to let people assume you’re not Jewish.
…being worried whenever you have to do anything with money. If you spend too much and don’t worry about it – then you’re the “rich Jew,” if you spend very little then you’re a “miserly Jew.”
…learning first-hand what anti-semitism is in 4th grade, because two of your classmates suddenly hate you.
…calling people out on making a Holocaust joke, being told that you’re over-reacting, and then being treated to hearing about how they’ve all watched Schindler’s List.
…having your own ex-boyfriend describe people who he disliked as “k*kes” and to wonder, even after he apologized, how he learned to use that word so flippantly
…having your head checked for horns by a college student who’s just never met a real live Jew.
… casually having a friend tell you that her partner has “never met a Jewess!” before a party that you’re going to.
….European Anti-Semitism, and the new Exodus to Israel.
… being afraid to worship in synagogue, in America, Europe, or Israel. Because we don’t know when the next gunman is going to burst through the door. And having the police tell us that they can’t do much to protect us unless we hire armed guards for every event, and install metal detectors [RK]
Check Your Usage of “Check Your Privilege”
The phrase has become a weapon rather than a reminder
By Julia Fisher, May 6, 2014
….The real problem with the phrase “check your privilege”—aside from the fact that it reduces people to the sum of their characteristics—is that it has become a handicapping device. White male? Then what could you possibly know about racism or sexism?
Calling out privilege often isn’t intended to make someone consider his advantages in life so much as to dismiss his perspective. But I want to be able to discuss sexism or feminism with men, and I think their opinions are no less worthy or relevant for the fact that they are male. Similarly, anyone should be able to participate in a conversation about racism without being discounted or silenced on account of race.
That’s why I find Fortgang’s reaction not wholly out of place. Told to check your privilege, it’s pretty easy to feel shut out of conversation; an advantage in life might be turned into a disadvantage in debate. “Check your privilege” can come across as an expectation that a person be repentant for sins he has not committed.
In its most generous usage, of course, “check your privilege” isn’t meant to make anyone feel guilty—only to make them recognize their privileged position. But it has the effect of invoking guilt, in large part because the phrase is so often used ungenerously, as a weapon rather than a gentle reminder…..