On History, Race and Sexuality, Purple Toenails and All

In 1995 I came to America for the summer trying to make sure that I wanted to come and live here. Since people were extremely friendly, I thought it would be useful to ask the American people questions about how they solved their discrimination problems and maybe write a book to enlighten my people, whoever they are, but mainly for my soul, to understand what we've been through under communism. It was an exciting experiment.
I went home, transcribed some of the interviews, then I moved to America and for the next 10 years, life chewed me up, and spat me out only now.
It is a debt of honor to finalize this work I called "Are We Tooo White To Be Gypsies?". I hope it speaks to you. What you'll read now are snippets from the entire material, still in the works.

Stan Markowitz and Dottye Burt-Markowitz were my hosts in Baltimore.

is a white Professor of American History, African American History and American Indian History at Community College of Baltimore County and social activist.

“My consciousness was being raised by the civil rights movement. I grew up in Newark, New Jersey which had a large black population, so I knew about segregation, about the tensions between blacks and whites. My parents were like most Americans racist in some ways. My father especially, thought black people inferior. My mother was not so much so.”
“How did they react when you started to be interested in civil rights? Or they didn’t know about it?”
“My father didn’t really understand it. We never talked about it, because we would argue. But I got into arguments with many people in my family. I had an uncle who was very prejudiced and who told me that he would move out of his house if a black family moved into his neighborhood. That he didn’t want black people there, they were lazy, they were dirty, they didn’t pay their bills, the schools would go down. We had very big fights and arguments to the point that we stopped speaking to one another. And there were one or two friends who I stopped speaking because we were argue about this, because they did not believe in civil rights.
“When I went back to college and then to graduate school, that had helped me see how much discrimination there was in this country and how terrible and unfair it was. It had made me understand the injustice of racism in a way that I had not as I grew up, because I had no one to tell me these things. Everybody who I grew up with had the same values basically and that was that black people were inferior to white people. So, I don’t know if I’m answering your question?”
“Yes - yes - yes.”
“In America a lot of Jewish people were involved in civil rights movement, probably a bigger proportion than of other people from other communities. I think that was because many Jews like myself understood in some way what it meant to be an outsider, what it meant to be viewed in a negative way just because I was Jewish. It didn’t matter what I was like, it didn’t matter what I did, for some people the fact that I was Jewish made me different and made them critical of me. I think that also contributed to my feeling that I wanted to do something to make black people free in this country, to have real integration and real equality.”
“Those are some of the things that helped me to decide that I wanted to be a teacher. In part because I wanted to teach history in a way that was different in the way I learned it. I wanted to teach values about community. I mean I hadn’t thought all of this out at that time, but I know that I was getting a real understanding that United States was not the democracy I had always been taught it was, that there’re many problems, and the black - white problem was the most obvious to me then, and to most people.
“Also, it just occurs to me, I think that growing up Jewish. Because even though when I talk about my experience as a Jew, and my feelings about it - they may be somehow different then other people than you talked to, we can talk about that later - I was very aware that there was anti-semitism in this country. I was very aware that being a Jew made me an outsider. I knew how other people in the working class community that I grew up in, Italians, and Irish and other people, other children, would say negative things about Jews. About Jews being cheep, and Jews being Christ killers and... Even though I had friends who were not Jewish and who seemed to accept me, I would discover in different ways that there were a lot of negative attitudes about Jews. Even when I moved to Newark where I lived from the time I was 14  and went to a high-school that was about 90% Jewish. My family moved to an area where the majority were Jewish. It was a very different experience for me, all of a sudden to be in a place where mostly people who I went to school with and be my friends were Jewish. But in many ways I still understood and could see and experience the anti-Semitism.
“I was surprised to find out that students - even in some of the classes at Howard where they had black teachers - didn’t talk about some of the same issues that I raised... and one of them was black sexuality and attitudes towards sexuality but also that one of the worst aspects of racism was that the standards of beauty in American society are white standards. So in order to be considered beautiful you have to have a European nose which is viewed as an English nose, narrow, and your lips have to be narrow, high cheek bones, blond hair and blue eyes. And I think it was the first time when I realized how awful an impact it must have on people to live in a society where they can never meet those standards, because their features, their hair texture, their skin color are unacceptable as ideals of beauty.
“After one class, when we talked about some of these things, a black male student came up to me and his eyes were full of tears and was saying how he found himself attracted to white women and how difficult it was... I don’t know if he saw this as an example of self hatred, but this was as hard for him that he felt guilty about, but he couldn’t help it because all of his life beautiful women, were white women. How painful it was for him to find himself attracted to a standard that black women could never achieve. He had been socialized to think that women who are not like him were the only ones who could be beautiful.
“In seeing how painful this was for him, I understood better than I ever understood before how inhuman racism is - I knew it was inhuman in so many ways - but to make someone like this young man have to experience what he was articulating to me was a terrible thing.
“Many, many black men in this country’s history have been lynched, executed without a trial, without going to jail, or sometimes they got them arrested and whites had broken into jail taken them out, lynched them. Sometimes they’d just taken them and lynched them on the grounds that they had raped white women, or they had made sexual advances to white women, or they had looked in the wrong way at white women. One of the major justifications for segregation, was ‘to protect’ white women from the primitivism of black men, who more than anything else, according to these attitudes, wanted to have sex with white women. That black men desired white women and that that desire was so strong and so primitive that they couldn’t control themselves, because they were primitive and that white women, some white women who had sex with black men will enjoy it because of the passionate and primitive nature of black men.”
“Haha!” All seemed hilarious to me. I imagined white farmers having angry arguments over a beer at the end of the day in bars. “What shall we do?! They rob us of our women’s libidos!”
“It’s not amusing, because it has been so destructive to people’s lives and because as I just said black men were hanged, because whites acted out this insanity, and it wasn’t just insanity. A lot of whites believe this. The fact is that far more black women have been raped by white men in this country. That doesn’t mean just during the slavery period, black women were being raped after abolition as well. If most black people lived in the South until after World War Two, any black men who looked close at a white woman, knew that he was in trouble, so that black men kept their distance from white women. I don’t mean that there were never any instances when black men maybe raped white women, certainly there was rape in the black community, but far more white men raped black women because they could get away with it. So what is as horrible about all this as anything else, is that in fact it was white men who were behaving a lot more like the stereotype the black men. It was the white men who had the opportunity to rape black women and it was certainly as much rape in the white community as it was in the black community, proportionately. Attitudes about sexuality still helped maintain racism. In the American society there are a lot of stereotypes as well. Is that what you were referring to?”
“Yes. But it never crossed their mind that women... that they can fall in love?!”
“No, never love. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the only book he ever wrote - and he was a brilliant man, the most learned man of his time, certainly in this country - wrote that blacks are closer to orangutans. Wrote that blacks are more lustful than whites, wrote that blacks are not capable of love which is a human feeling and a feeling with sensitivity, they’re only capable of lust. This is Thomas Jefferson... And certainly Thomas Jefferson was used as a model by many whites. ‘Thomas Jefferson believes this and that’ reinforces the argument for sure.
“O, Thomas Jefferson! I had a lot of him at school.”
“They teach here Thomas Jefferson too, but they never taught that. As an example I would read pieces of that, and my students at Howard, they never heard anything like that of Thomas Jefferson, you know, I think it’s very hard for black people to hear that Thomas Jefferson literally compares them to animals. But at the same time most people, black and white, have not been taught about Thomas Jefferson, that in addition to writing the Declaration of Independence, which is an extraordinary democratic statement, he had these thoughts also and what do we make of that?! Doesn’t that have to help us understand that these issues are much more complicated then the simplistic kind of stuff that we often outcome in our history... So, it’s powerful stuff. You know we talk about...”
“Why I find it so amusing?”
“Yeah, well I guess...”
“It’ s absurd!!”
“Well, it’s absurd at the very abstract level, but when you actually look at the impact it’s had, it’s no more absurd. Then the attitudes and racism is not unique to this country. These attitudes are prevalent in many parts of the world and they’ve caused tremendous destruction and pain as well as violence. Yea, at one level it is completely absurd how people can believe these things, but people do. Sex, it’s a simplistic statement, sex is a powerful thing in human society. In this country sex has been for a long part of our history very threatening. This is this idea of puritan heritage. That Americans are very, very closed and very inhibited about sex. And when you have a closed inhibited society like Victorian England about sex, you have a lot of perverse stuff going on and a lot of fears and assumptions about sexuality. I think that’s contributed to racism. That this society has a lot of difficulty dealing with sex in general, you kind of integrate that with racism, it becomes a very violent and volatile mix.”
“I talked to a journalist, he’s black, and he said ‘Do Gypsies exist? This is an ethnic group? I thought it’s just a derogatory term!’ He said that when you want to say that someone is cheating on you, you have even a word, as you said that ‘to jew’, you have also ‘to gyp’?!”
“Yea, it is the word ‘gyp’, it comes from Gypsy.”
“But how it got here?”
“Well, yes because there have been Gypsy people in this country. Probably some of them came as a result of the Nazis and what was going on in Europe, some were able to escape from Europe maybe in the ‘30s before Hitler started putting Gypsies to death the way he started putting Jews to death. They tended to live in large cities, and they were very easily identifiable, because they dressed in typical Gypsy clothing: bright colors, shawls and big skirts. They didn’t try to assimilate most of them. My parents had a paint wall paper small store in Newark in a black neighborhood and they had a number of customers who were Gypsies. Maybe six or eight Gypsy families that came in. One of those Gypsy families were living in the same area that blacks were living, and so black people knew who Gypsies were, and we knew about Gypsies, because even if they were just a small number of them, they generally tended to live in a community. They did not interact with other people, they were very insular, they stayed with each other, and I don’t know what their attitudes towards blacks were but when they were coming into our store you knew immediately that they were Gypsies because of how they were dressed and the pierced ears and make up and everything. My mother always would say to me ’Okay, Stan, stay over there and watch them. Make sure they don’t steal anything.’ Which she didn’t say about black families coming in. Always when there a Gypsy family came in. And they were very loud and in fact they did try to steal stuff, and they were constantly trying to get things more cheaply than my parents wanted to sell them, and they were always arguing, very much the kind of thing that people say about Jewish people! Yea, and my parents were crazy about that because they would spend two hours on one sell and that would be next to nothing. They would spend more time with this Gypsy family for $10 than they would spend on somebody else who came in and spend $100 and they would spend half an hour! So I grew up with some real stereotypes about Gypsies. But there were Gypsies in New York, there were Gypsies in New Jersey and a lot of large American towns. They tended to live in areas where black people lived.
“One thing about prejudice is that people who are discriminated against, are not always more sensitive to other people who are ’less then them’ in the kind of hierarchy, so I’m not surprised to hear stories about blacks who thought Gypsies were all these terrible things. Many years ago, when my first marriage was ending I was going to a psychologist. She was very informal, and it was the summer. She came in to one of our therapy sessions with sandals and her toe nails were painted purple. Purple nail polish. This upset me. I happen to like nail polish on people’s toes but something about my therapist, who was helping me figure out my life at that time and she was wearing purple painted toenail, bothered me and I couldn’t figure what’s going on there.”
“And she sensed it?”
“No, I didn’t say anything then, I just knew it was bothering me but I didn’t say anything. And in between that meeting and the next meeting I had these dreams about Gypsies, and I went back next time and I said ’you know, I was really upset when you came in with your toenails painted purple!”
“I didn’t know why this was bothering me, I’m a very progressive person, haha! I realized that I associated her and those purple painted toenails with Gypsies! And this was all subconscious level, that somehow this woman who was helping me straighten out my life, was behaving like a Gypsy and it was interesting, it was a lesson for me about how deep some of these stereotypes are. Because all of my experiences as a young person with Gypsies are in my mind negative, because they were always associated with Gypsies coming into the store, trying to steal things, trying to get things cheaply, having my parents very weary of them and having negative things to say about them. Then delivering stuff to their homes... They were always living 10 or 12 people in the small apartment, and there always seemed to be smells that were different than those I was used to, much of them was food. And they were little scary!”
“Did you assimilate?”
“Well this kind of gets into the whole issue being Jewish... My mother was a very nationalistic Jew. She identified very strongly with being Jewish, my father never said much about it and I don’t think he particularly did identify strongly. They weren’t very religious, I was bar mitzvahed. Do you know what this is?”
“In Jewish tradition when you are 13 you become a man and you accept certain male responsibilities, and it’s one of the biggest Jewish ceremony. My parents generation, and before, 99% of Jewish boys were bar mitzvahed and some families girls called bat mitzvahed, but it’s not considered as nearly important as the bar mitzvahed. Like almost all religions Judaism is very sexist. So I went to Hebrew school, and I studied and I had to do the ceremony. I hated it all but I wasn’t crazy about school at all in those days whether was Hebrew school or regular school...
“So I grew up with certain Jewish traditions, and in a family where my mother really believed that she was better than other people... and ‘Jews are more honest, Jews are smarter, Jews didn’t have as much divorce, Jewish men didn’t drink, Jewish men were hard workers.’ She believed that a Jewish family and the Jewish culture were superior cultures and families. I think since I had a very difficult relationship with my mother, and she was so strongly identified with Jewishness and wanted me to identify with Jewishness, I rebelled against that.
“I don’t know why this was so early in my life, I didn’t like the idea of saying that Jews were better than other people, why was that? That it’s not right to feel that one person is better than another. Maybe I felt some of that because I experienced some feelings of being an outsider and I had experienced some hostility because I was Jewish, and so, it made me feel like I wouldn’t like treat somebody else that way. Or may be primarily just rebellion against my mother, that I was angry at her for some things and so I rejected things that she believed in. But we were pretty Americanized family otherwise, my father spoke perfect English, came here when he was five so he didn’t speak with an accent, my mother was born here, they believed in the values of America, hard work, not just America, but they were law abiding citizens. I was a pretty I guess normal kid, I wanted pretty much what everybody else wanted. And I think it wasn’t till I was considerably older when I started having a lot of political consciousness.”
“Why Dottye said that you have a special position to your Jewishness?“
“I think what Dottye meant is that I don’t identify with being a Jew, I don’t deny it, I don’t rejected, it’s just that’s how I was born. I have no real connection with Jewishness, with Judaism, religiously or culturally and I’m probably very critical of it. I think there is a very strong - because there’s a whole history of hostility towards Jews that goes back millennium not just centuries, by the time of Christ, because Jews were dispersed and didn’t have their own country, they lived in so many other countries and were generally not viewed positively and didn’t have certain opportunities and felt endangered in many of them which is why a lot of them came to United States - there is a real feeling among Jews of sticking together, even if they didn’t live in the same neighborhoods. When you’re a Jew you meet another Jew - there is an immediate connection just because both are Jewish and share a sense of being outsiders and a common heritage.
“I didn’t have that feeling, I didn’t feel like I wanted to be a part of the Jewish community. I wasn’t religious. When I was 13 years old I was bar mitzvahed and for a couple of months I thought ‘well, maybe there is something to this, maybe I should...’ I was going to synagogue or temples on Saturdays, and then the holiest of Jewish holidays, which is called Yom Kippur came and I went to this temple in my neighborhood, and I wanted to worship on Yom Kippur The man at the door asked if my father was a member of the temple, and had he purchased the seat for Yom Kippur, and I said no, he wasn’t a member of the temple, he hadn’t purchased the seat. So he told me I couldn’t go in the temple. And I remember that made a big impression on me, I said ’You mean that because my father hasn’t purchased the ticket in this temple, you’re not gonna let me come in and worship on the most holly day of the Jewish religion?’ I said, ‘I’ll stand in the back, I won’t sit; I’ll just stand in the back of the temple,’ he said ‘can’t come in.’ and I left that temple and I never went back to a temple again. I decided that any religion that required a 13 year old to have his father pay for seat in a temple, before I could go in and worship, on the holiest day of that religion, I didn’t believe in that religion. Now I suspect I was able to make that decision partly because I didn’t have any strong commitment to the religion I had grown up.
“Also by that time I was really already getting some feelings about class differences... The differences money made in life. Because my parents were, my mother in particular, always complaining about how little money we had. She was always worried about not being able to pay the bills. So I don’t know why that happened but it happened and so added to my feeling of non identifying with Jews as a group and not finding Jewish culture particularly having anything appealing to me except food, which I loved, which is basically East European anyway. So I very early in life dramatically disconnected with religion. And most Jews do not, most Jews make that connection with culture, feel the sense of being part of this group, and that the importance of sticking together ‘because there are people out there who are hostile to you, and the society at large, in some cases stopped you from some opportunity because you’re Jewish.’ I never denied being Jewish, if somebody ever asked me, but I didn’t identify with being Jewish.
“As I got older and became more political and more progressive, I basically became agnostic or atheist and just didn’t pay attention to religion at all, I always objected to the notion that there is something superior about Judaism. I haven’t met a religion that I particularly liked.
“I think that while I was happy to see Israel formed - Jews have a place where Jews can go if they wish to go - I think even then, in the early stages, I was concerned about the way in which Israel was created, that it was not a good idea to take the land from one group and give it to another, which is what seems to be the case. Then as Israel evolved I had a much less strong identification with Israel. The vast majority of American Jews are very connected to Israel and I feel don’t really see Israel’s faults because this strong attachment. For me Israel’s racist policies towards Arabs, there is a lot of sense among Israelites that Arabs are inferior, and the fact that Israel seemed to have a policy that... ‘we will allay with anyone who can help us, regardless of who they are, because we’ll never let what happened to us before happen again.’ So Israel allied with South Africa!
Israelis focus tremendously on what happened to Jews before and during WWII - that makes sense given that six million Jews were exterminated because they were Jews. Israel’s policies often seem to be justified on the grounds that Jews will never let what happened before happen again - ‘never again’ is a phrase Jews often use when they defend Israel’s policies. I thought that Israel, and Jews in general, would have a higher kind of humanity because they would look at what happened to them and they would try not to do this kind of thing to anybody else. But at times Israel can justify policies it shouldn’t justify by claiming that the policy is based on what happened to Jews in the past.
"Then Israel had dealings with South Africa the country was dealing with a nation that was similar to Nazi Germany. What happened to Jews in the past should not justify that policy. So it’s disappointing when Israel didn’t seem to have the higher humanity that some other countries. Not that they have a lower humanity, but they just behave like everybody else in many ways.

“And I think that many Jews today have become very reactionary on racist issues, in recent years Jewish have been very opposed to affirmative action in large numbers and...”
“Can you talk about black anti-Semitism?”
“Yea. I think it’s a combination of things... As immigrants came to this country each immigrant group assimilated, became more part of the country and was able to be more successful and then another group came in. When the Italians came in a lot of the stores and business that were own by Germans got in their hands, and then the Greeks came in and the Italians were moving out. The immigrant group that was at the bottom just before large numbers of black people began moving up from the South, were the Jews.
“Jews had a lot of the stores and businesses in black community, so I think there was some tension as a result of that. My father and mother had a store, they always hired blacks, but they did not pay them very well. I think he took advantage of them, for the most part he did not have a very high opinion of black workers. I worked with them, I got to know them and actually got to like some. But I know that some of them at least, resented my father, resented the fact that he wasn’t paying them enough, and took advantage... But during the civil rights movement, in the ‘60s there was a lot of positive feeling between the blacks and Jews. Then in the beginning of 1980s, a lot of the most prominent speakers against affirmative action have been Jews and I think that’s alienated blacks.”
“Why are they against it?”
“Because they felt that this would get special treatment to blacks and that might prevent Jews from getting positions... Israel’s policies contributed to anger among many blacks, especially Israel’s alliance with South-Africa. And I think that many black people have the same stereotypes about Jews. They grew up in this society, and they share some of the attitudes towards Jews, that white non-Jews have. And Jews had become a pretty successful community economically in this country, because Jews tend to be more educated then other populations. A larger percentage of Jews go to college, a larger percentage of Jews are professionals, and so Jews had been quite successful, and as they’ve been successful, they’ve grown more out of touch with poor people and working class people.
“Also in the last 15-20 years there’s been a revival of the ideas that there are certain Jews with money who control a lot of things, just like Hitler argued, and that a lot of the wealth and power in the society is in the hands of Jews.
"Any people who have been oppressed are trying to understand why they are oppressed and how they are oppressed. I think for some blacks Jews are seen as one of the sources of their oppression - maybe even a major source. I don’t think Jews are responsible for racism in U.S. - the political, economic, and social system that oppresses African Americans and discriminates against them. But I do understand the factors that have convinced some black people that Jews are ‘the enemy’..
"If you take some of the history, if you take some of the attitudes about Jews that are shared with other members of the community, and if you take a group that has been quite successful, in the eyes of people who have not been terribly successful, you are the potential for tension.
“Also Jews and blacks live in some of the same areas like New York and there’ve been conflict between them. For many years Jews voted for liberal causes, now in New York Jews are becoming more conservative, they’re voting for things that blacks are not in favor of it and they’re helping to elect people who are not gonna do the kinds of things that black people would like to see done.
“Also the Black Muslims have been very openly anti-Semitic, and they often appeal to young people in particular, who are the worst off economically in this country and who respond to demagogues, just the way poor people in different times in history have responded to demagogues.
“So I guess, some of the reason for this has to do with just historical things, some of it has to do with things Jews have done, some of it has to do with typical attitudes of anti-semitism that some blacks share along with whites. You should ask some black people about it, maybe it’s interesting to hear what they have to say. It looks like you are the one who’ll fall asleep.”
“We have five more minutes of tape. Tell me why do you think a young Jewish person doesn’t want to recognize that he’s a Jew?”
“There’s still anti-Semitism in this country, and Jewish people have dealt with anti-Semitism in different ways. Some deny that they are Jews or keep it a secret, because they think that if people know that they are Jews, that would change what they think about them. A young person who’s ambitious, a young person who wants to move ahead in their profession might feel that if people know that he or she is Jewish that will prevent them from getting promoted. If there’re aren’t a lot of Jews in the community, a young single man might feel that it would be difficult for him to meet women if they know he’s Jewish, and it might be easier to meet somebody and if you have a good connection with them and you think that there’s some future for the relationship, then you can tell the person that you’re Jewish after they gotten to know you, but that if people know in the beginning that you’re Jewish they may not be interested. There are still many families, Christian families, particularly Protestant families, if they knew that their daughter or son were marrying a Jew would be very upset.
“This person may have had discovered in life that when people knew that they were Jewish it did in fact change things about their relationships, it did close some doors to them, it did make them less popular, it did mean that people couldn’t confide in them, it was an obstacle to becoming good friends with people. You’re always like an outsider, you never became the best friend, you never were taken into the inner community. There are lots of reasons why a young person who is Jewish might try to keep that from people.
“It also might be that they are ashamed of being Jewish. That kind of self hatred, or shame that often comes with coming from a community that the larger community thinks is inferior or somehow bad, you internalize those things. Where does that come from, why do we have a low self esteem? It comes from a lot of things but one of the things it can come from, is our racial background and all the messages you’ve gotten.
“It could be a combination for a person of that age, or even for a person older, there are very real reasons, the things I was describing do happen. But it also can be that a person, because they believe these things might happen, could be an obstruction to their own success, it will affect relationships, even if that’s not the case, a person may think that that’s the case, it may not want to take the chance that’s not gonna be the case... and you know, why tell somebody that you are Jewish, why put it out there? If people don’t ask, people don’t know.
“And you behave in ways that are not the way Jewish people are supposed to behave. So, if you go out to dinner with people, you make sure that nobody gets the impression that you’re cheap, so you pick up a check. Or you always make sure you pay for your share or you don’t order the cheapest things on the menu, or you make sure that you’re a good tipper. You don’t behave in ways that are stereotypes for Jews, I’m not sure what all that means. People often said to me when they found out that I was Jewish that ‘you don’t behave like a Jew,’ and then when I would ask them, which I usually do, ‘what do you mean, how Jews behave? How is it that I don’t behave?’ and usually they really had no answer, because they were surprised that I asked them that, and they were embarrassed to say. More often they didn’t know what they were talking about, there was just this notion that Jews somehow are different and that you’ll be able to see it when you will look at them, like if someone is gay you’ll be able to tell just by looking at them, which of course is also not true. And if they did say something, they generally said ‘Jews are cheap, and you’re not, you seem to spend money no problem, you are very generous and Jews are not like that. And the Jewish males are kind of nerdy, they’re kind of intellectuals, with glasses, they read a lot, they don’t play sports, they’re bookish, they’re accountants and doctors and they’re not real people, that play ball and drink beer, and smoke cigarettes and kid around and do the things that normal people do.’ And I’m not like that ’cause I drink and, I don’t smoke but I play ball, and I like sports and I kid around and somehow I just don’t behave the stereotype of Jews is for many, many people... I don’t know why your friend, specifically behaves the way he behaves but those are some of the reasons I think why he might behave that way... When I was in the army, I remember once the sergeant said to me, a sergeant who was Polish thought I was Polish, and because he thought I was Polish I got some special treatment, he gave me a free pass once to go home. I never told him I wasn’t Polish!”
“I mean, I didn’t feel like I needed to say ‘Oh, no, I’m not Polish, my father was from Poland but I’m Jewish!’ It was obvious to me that he knew I was Jewish I wouldn’t get that special treatment, and I figured, you know, why bother, what am I gonna gain by telling him I was Jewish? If he asked me, ‘are you Jewish?’ I would say, ’Yea, I’m Jewish’ but since he didn’t ask, and I’m in the South and I’m the only Jew in this whole battalion, and is a lot of anti-Semitism in the South, what’s to be gained by announcing that I’m a Jew? In the army if somebody didn’t like you, an officer or a sergeant, they could you to do stuff that wasn’t particularly pleasant. You could be getting kitchen duty, you couldn’t get time to get off, you had to work later hours, and if they were your superior you could do that. Why give people some information that’s going to result in their treating that way if you don’t have to, so in that regard, you know, I didn’t hide it, but I didn’t announce it.”
“What do you think will happen in the year of 2,000 and I don’t know what they say that the black population would be the majority.”
“Who said that?”
“Not the blacks. By the year of 2,050 the majority of Americans will not be, will not trace their ancestry to Europe, so if you combine the non-European people who have been generally viewed as the minorities, that the minorities taken together will be a larger population than Europeans. But the Hispanic population would probably be larger than the African- American population and they are very different in many ways. The black population is now about 12% and probably by that time maybe 20%.”
“Well, nevertheless, what do you think it would happen? You said that the civil rights movement was followed by a disillusion... What will come if the proportions change?”
“This is not an easy answer. The short answer is that I think that the next 15 to 20 years this country will have to take a major turn to the left, not socialist, not communist but what I would call more humanistic community oriented society, where will be a significant distribution of wealth and power. Or would become - and this is just as possible, maybe more possible - would become a state that is increasingly violent, where there are people armed in the streets, where wealthy people will be putting walls around their homes, where poverty will increase, and there are a lot of things that would happen but it would not be a place to live, but a very dangerous, very unequal, unjust, very violent community. I think that that’s a real possibility. So that’s the short version. Which may be enough.”

Well, here you have it: If you’d like to throw a bit of money my way to keep my endeavors going, and also enable me to spread the money to my various causes, speaking up against racism being one of them, I’d be grateful.

April 6th, 2013
New York


  1. Am ramas surprinsa sa aflu ca evreii mai sunt discriminati si acum in SUA. Nu exagera oare putin? Cand am fost la Los Angeles, am intalnit multi evrei(manageri, avocati, etc) si nici unul nu parea sa-si ascunda identitatea sau sa fie frustrat de asta. Din contra, pentru joburi, imi da impresia ca au intodeauna reputatie buna. Da, si eu-s curioasa de ce o sa se intample in 2050 cand populatia americana va fi predominant constituita din non europeni.:)

  2. Poate se refera la evreii ortodoxi. Avem idei preconcepute, in general, despre evreii ortodoxi, pt ca, sa fim seriosi, stau f izolati de restul lumii, in comunitatea lor. Si ei ne discrimineaza la fel de mult, stai linistita. Nu au voie sa se casatoreasca cu "shikse", adica "albele", cele care nu sunt evreice, nu te vor invita niciodata la vreo petrecere de-a lor ori la vreo nunta, la vreo sarbatoare religioasa, sunt f exclusivisti. Eu locuiesc aici intr-un cartier evreisc si sunt f reci cu cei care nu sunt evrei ca si ei, ca se imbraca toti la fel, poarta peruci, se recunosc intre ei, te simt ca nu esti unul dintre ei. Copii vecinilor mei evrei nici nu-mi raspund la buna ziua, sunt presupun educati sa ne evite. Dar evreii care sunt moderni, sincer, nu cred ca are nimeni vreo prejudecata intr-atata impotriva lor. Ba chiar evreii in SUA au reputatia de a fi "barbati de casa", persoane cu pozitie sociala si financiara, in general, de invidiat, asa ca sunt considerati "partide bune". Precizez ca asta nu inseamna ca neg faptul ca evreii au fost discriminati in trecut pe teritoiul Americii. Cei mai discriminati mi se par mexicanii acum, cu adevarat "scalvii" americanilor, in perioada de fata. Un bogatas american, evreu, profesor universitar imi zicea: "pai, ce vrei, nu trebuie sa ne tunda cineva peluza, sa ne curete casele? la atat sunt buni mexicanii astia." NO COMMENT:(

  3. Iulia, initial ma gindisem ca cel mai bine ar fi sa-ti raspunda Stan la intrebare, de vreme ce e interviul lui, plus ca eu am povestit eu cu el in 1995, si poate lucrurile s-au schimbat intre timp. Dar m-ai facut sa ma gindesc la experientele mele cu oameni de origine evreiasca aici in America, dar si in Romania, asa ca o sa-mi dau si eu cu parerea, si dupa aia o sa traduc conversatia noastra in engleza si o sa-l intreb pe Stan.
    Eu cind am crescut nu am intilnit evrei. In orasul nostru, Zalau, nu erau. Am intrebat-o pe mama si a zis ca dinsa a avut numai o cunostinta care a plecat in Israel. Despre evrei efectiv nu stiam nimic, putin cu Holocaustul din carti si filme, si uneori auzeam romani habotnici ortodocsi facind spume la gura cum ca evreii l-au omorit pe Cristos, cum ca evreii stapinesc lumea, dar mie marii credinciosi, fundamentalistii, habotnicii de toate credintele religioase mi se pareau, si si acum imi par, deraiati si agresivi si incita la ura.
    Cit rau au facut oamenii in numele religiei unii altora de-a lungul istoriei...
    Oricum, cind m-am mutat la Bucuresti am descoperit un magazin la un centru evreiesc cu tot felul de lucruri frumoase, de la linguri de argint la dulapuri din lemn de trandafir. Nu era o consignatie sau ceva magazin de ‘vintage’ antichitati, era un fel de magazie, un loc foarte pitoresc ptr. mine, nu am vazut asa ceva inainte, erau multe boccele claie peste gramada prin colturi, pina in tavan, inca nedesfacute, cu lucruri netriate. Vinzatorii erau putin ciudati, tipau daca ma atingeam de boccele, asa ca trebuia procedat cu grija daca voiam sa cumpar si sa pot sa vin acolo din nou ca erau asa artagosi ca riscam sa ma dea afara din magazin.
    Dar din cite am inteles eu astea erau lucruri donate de evreii care au parasit Romania, asta era prin anii ’80, si ei donasera lucrurile comunitatii evreiesti. Dar cind m-am mutat in S.U.A. am intilnit o familie de evrei plecati din Oradea si cind le-am povestit eu de magazinul acela de neuitat, si ce lucruri frumoase erau acolo, de vis comparat cu ce uritenii se fabricau atunci. Dulapul meu de lemn de trandafir, cu oglida, era asa frumos si bine facut. Mama cumparase cind eram copil mobila noua de la fabrica Steaua Rosie sau Mesesana din Zalau, s-o intreb ca nu mai stiu, si dupa citeva luni a inceput sa se strice, scaunele, fotoliile se descleiau. Asa ca eram mindra de dulapul meu. A trebuit sa-l las in urma cind am plecat din Romania. Ei, si doamna aici in S.U.A. cind i-am povestit ce rau imi pare de dulap, si cum ca fusese initial o donatie pentru centrul de intrajutorare evreiesc, a ris, si a zis, oamenii nu donau de bunavoie, ci li se lua totul cind plecau din tara. Si mi-a povestit cum au plecat ei, o familie de doctori cu doi copii, in anii ’60 din Romania. M-am cutremurat.
    Oricum, eu am studiat la Budapesta studii americane si jurnalism. Si atunci am citit despre istoria evreilor, si literatura de autori evrei americani, si vazut filme americane despre Holocaust. Mi s-a facut foarte rusine de cum s-au purtat si germanii si si cei din Europa de est. Bestial sa vezi imagini filmate din razboi in lagare, gropile cu schelete. Cind am fost la Muzeul Holocaustului in Washington D.C. erau gramezi de pantofi, lazi pline cu par. M-a socat sa-mi dau seama ce hoti erau germanii. Inainte mi se parusera exaltati, deraiati, megalomani, dar acum erau dintrodata meschini, furau de rupeau in timpul razboiului de la posete la verighete, piepteni, papuci, tot, tot. Niste acaparatori, avari, Hagi Tudose.
    Dar inapoi la present: in Budapesta la redactie marea majoritate, de la proprietari, pina la redactori, la reporteri erau evrei americani. Toti isi cautau radacinile familiei in Europa de est. Ma distrau putin cumva cu asta. Parca era o moda cu radacinile.
    Vezi continuarea mai jos.

  4. Oricum cind m-am mutat in S.U.A. in Louisiana unde am studiat ‘creative writing’, cum ar veni ‘scris frumos’ multi dintre profesorii mei erau evrei americani, si cind am participat la o conferinta pe teme de literatura si-au invitat agentii lor literari de la New York si toti erau evrei dupa nume. Mai apoi am vorbit cu citiva agenti literari din L.A. si si ei erau evrei.
    Da nu mi-am pus niciodata intrebarea ca oare de ce.
    Cind m-am mutat pe coasta de est, majoritatea oamenilor cu care aveam de-a face professional sunt evrei. De la avocati, la doctori, la lumea teatrului, actori, agenti de tot felul, ziaristi, toti sunt evrei. Dar nu m-a preocupat ce erau ci cit de priceputi erau in meseria lor, iar daca am devenit prieteni ce fel de idei aveau, cum erau ca oameni. Si prietenii mei evrei unii sunt liberali, activi politic, se implica, altii sunt republicani, eu nu sunt, si ma mir cum pot ei sa fie republicani ca-s oameni cu scaun la cap, ne mai incontram noi, dar sunt prietenii mei, le e drag de mine, si ne distram impreuna. In general eu sunt atrasa de oameni vorbareti, la care le plac povestile, ca si eu sunt asa.
    Oricum, cind ne-am mutat la New York, nu m-am intrebat la inceput de ce sunt asa de multi evrei in lumea teatrului, in media, in publishing. Dar dupa un timp mi s-a parut parca m-am mutat in Israel profesional, nu in America. I-am intrebat uneori pe prietenii mei despre asta, ca am senzatia ca parca nu inteleg despre ce e vorba, parca tot o dau pe linga professional, parca nu sunt pe lungime de unda diferita, ce naiba fac gresit, sa fie ca au dreptate unii pe care eu ii credeam ca au mania persecutiei ca evreii controleaza media, publishing, entertainment, ba mai mult ca stapinesc America? Nu ziceau nimic prietenii mei.
    Asa ca in final am dat vina pe mine, ca nu sunt destul de buna, ca trebuie sa muncesc si mai mult, desi in cercul meu apropiat scriitoricesc, teatral, ma respecta lumea, dar cind e sa intru in circuitul national efectiv ma bat de ceva bariera, parca nu respect ceva ritual, un tipic, ceva ce nu e spus pe fata, asa ca incet incet am renuntat, si fac totul independent.
    Acum ca ai pus intrebarile astea, am citit pe internet sa ma documentez, si nu stiu cit de incredere sunt sursele, dar intradevar se zice ca media e cotrolata de oameni de afaceri evrei, Hollywoodul tot asa, publishingul la fel. Nu am googalit in business si politica, ca nu ma bat de asta.
    Dar mai ma gindesc ca poate ca lucrurile stau asa: in 1950 erau 2.5 millioane de evrei in zona New Yorkului, acum sunt 1.4 millioane. Sunt de toate felurile de evrei ca in toate natiile. De la ortodocsi care au, cum ai zis, hachitele lor, si mie mi s-a intimplat cind am cautat un apartament de inchiriat, ca proprietarul cind am vrut sa dau mina cu el, a refuzat pe motiv religios, si am fost revoltata, ca ce timpenie umilitoare, dar si in Romania cind am mers la o manastire de calugari in vizita mi s-a spus ca unii dintre calugari evitau sa se uite la mine ptr ca sunt femeie, deci spurcata, sau ceva cu tentatia de a pacatui. Tembeli de astia, ca si cu femeile musulmane, sa fie acoperite in saci sa nu-i tenteze. Timpenii.
    Oricum, deci cred ca sunt tot feluri de evrei, unii traditionalisti, extemisti, altii atei, unii saraci lipiti, altii super bogati, unii cinstiti altii cirminali, unii generosi, altii scritani, unii destepti altii prosti de bubuie.
    Dar in domeniul meu sunt predominanti pentru ca sunt domenii in care se fac bani buni, e nevoie de educatie superioara, si ei au traditie de familie in domeniile astea. Uneori ma si gindesc ca domeniul meu e sa spun povesti, si cultura evreiasca e la origine bazata pe asta, pe povestile din biblie, si s-a transmis din veac in veac.
    Vezi continuarea mai jos.

  5. Nu cred ca e ceva conspiratie impotriva celor care nu sunt evrei, pur si simplu promoveaza ce le place si fara sa isi dea seama le plac aceleasi lucruri, facute dupa acelasi tipic, care l-au si verificat ca face bani, si in final in mod ciudat diversitatea nu e chiar asa de promovata, incet incet domeniile astea se transforma in o afacere de familie.
    Poate ca vorbim de nepotism la scala etnica.
    Dar mai bine sa-l intreb pe Stan, ca el e vorbaret si se pricepe la dezbateri.
    Mai apoi despre nedumerirea ta, daca discriminarea de azi, daca continua. Uite destul de des aud African-Americans, cum e asta in romana, americani africani? De origine africana? Ca se pling ca sufera discriminare in continuare, ce conteaza ca presedintele e Barack Obama, sau ca au luat Oscaruri?! Omul de rind se loveste de asta in continuare zic ei. Probabil ca si asta e adevarat. Dar am si vazut pe unii care prefer sa continue sa se plinga, chiar daca nu e cazul. S-au blocat in trecut. Si eu uneori imi dau seama ca si eu sunt in pericol de asta, baiatul meu imi atrage atentia destul de des, si eu ii raspund ca incerc sa ma indrept, dar cine s-a fript cu supa sufla si-n iaurt.
    Uite aici niste linkuri, dar nu stiu cit de incredere sunt:,0,4676183.column

  6. Multumesc Ella pentru raspuns! Da, nici eu nu vreau sa intru in mreaja teoriilor conspiratiei. Iar habotnicii imi displac la fel de mult si mie, si ii poti intalni cam in orice religie, din pacate. Acum ca detin Hollywoodul, media, politica, etc, e adevarat, probabil si pt ca evreii au pus "accentul" pe educatie, si astfel au putut accede mai usor la functiile respective, dar si pt ca se ajuta foarte mult intre ei. Este pe de o parte un fel de nepotism etnic, asa cum bine mentionezi si tu. Ei, nu mai vorbim de holocaust acum, pt ca ce s-a petrecut acolo e oribil si nu exista cuvinte care ar putea sa descrie atrocitatea aceea. Cu toate ca pacat ca genocidul din Cambogia care a decimat jumatate din populatia tarii(3,4 milioane din 7) a fost mult mai putin mediatizat, cu toate ca s-a intamplat in anii 70, cand ar fi trebuit sa se fi invatat deja o lectie din trecut. M-as fi asteptat ca evreii sa ia pozitie ferma atunci, stiind ca au trecut si ei prin acelasi lucru(cu toate ca nu fac aici "terci", ce s-a intamplat in Cambogia e diferit de ce li s-a intamplat evreilor). Si genociduri au tot urmat apoi si-n alte tari, dar nimeni nu s-a sesizat cu adevarat, ci foarte tarziu. Mie imi sunt simpatici si evreii, nu am nimic impotriva lor, pana la urma suntem toti la fel, adica la orice natie, etnie, gasesti si "buni" si "rai". Si nu neg sau contest faptul ca au dat extrem de multe valori lumii noastre: fizicieni, scriitori, pictori, politicieni, etc.

  7. In ceea ce priveste negrii din America(scuze, dar nu stiu alt termen, si nu mi se pare pejorativ), da, cred si sper ca lucrurile s-au schimbat pentru ei. O-r mai fi acuma si niste idioti albi de prin sud care inca mai traiesc cu idei din epoca plantaiilor de bumbac, dar oameni ignoranti si meschini se vor gasi tot timpul. Dar unii, poate se mai si victimizeaza acuma, tot ce e posbil, e greu sa te eliberezi de fantoma trecutului.

  8. Privitor la genocidul din Cambogia nu pot comenta, Iulia, ca eram copil cind s-a intimplat. Din ce am citit mai jos se pare ca Israelul a luat pozitie de fapt.
    Despre genocide si razboaie ce sa spun. Eu nu vreau razboaie de nici un fel. Aici in SUA parerile sunt impartite, unii nu vor ca SUA sa fie angrenata in razboaie mai ales cind sunt alte problema majore de rezolvat. Altii vor.
    Cit despre americanii de origine africana o sa postez citeva interviuri, care tot asa le-am facut in 1995.
    Ce mai pot zice e ca de doua ori am observat pe pielea mea cum grupuri
    sau organizatii care zic ca lupta impotriva nedreptatii, cind a fost sa zica ceva de nedreptatea suferita de alt grup, nu prea aud. Sau cind ar putea sa faca ceva imbunatatiri ptr grupul lor prin colaborare cu cei criticati, iar nu vor.
    Lucram la un articol despre violenta in familie in Budapesta, si am contactat un grup de femei. Printre altele s-au plins ca politia victimizeaza victima cind ancheteaza, si ca ar trebui femei politiste sa interogheze victima mai cu compasiune.
    Intr-o noapte am mers cu masina politiei la fata locului in teren la citeva incidente cind erau chemati prin statie si asa ca am povestit intre interventii cu ofiterul. Dinsul mi-a spus ca cu mare bucurie ar invita pe cineva de la organizatie sa fie prezenta in cazurile de violenta in familie, ca sa le ajute atit pe femeile victime cit si pe politisti. Cu mare bucurie ca am rezolvat problema m-am dus inapoi la organizatia de femei, si le-am spus, uite ofiterul asta e baiat de incredere, sunati-l si colaborati. Da' de unde! Dimpotriva, fetele mi-au zis ca ofiterul numai a vrut sa-mi inchida ochii sa nu scriu eu la gazeta adevarul despre atrocitatile lor. Si mie atunci mi-a fost clar ca fetele voiau numai sa se certe in continuare cu lumea, nu sa faca o schimbare. Ofiterul era un om cumsecade, voia sa faca ceva, eu voiam sa fac ceva, dar organizatia in sine prefera sa tot bata toba ce dezastru e, nu sa suflece minecile si sa actioneze. Cu parere de rau am avut aceiasi senzatie acum cind am scris eseul cu violul ptr. o organizatie din Romania.
    A doua pilda: cind m-am stabilit aici adeseori cind vorbeam cu African-Americans le spuneam ce similara e situatia tiganilor/romilor in Europa, si ca ce folositoare ar fi experienta lor de aici din anii '60 acolo. Ma ascultau, dar nu ii interesa. Erau preocupati de micile lupte de aici, care ptr. ei erau mari, dar unele mie mi se pareau exagerate prin comparatie cu ce am vazut in Europa.
    Asa ca m-am lasat de facut aliante internationale. M-am dus eu personal cind am putut in Europa de Est la ajutat. Ce fantastic a fost o sa-ti spun alta data :)

  9. Da, imi inchipui ca nu-i interesa prea tare pe African Americans despre discrminarile tiganilor in Europa... Dar de discriminat, cred ca ii discrimineaza si ei pe albi. Presupun ca daca te duci in vreun cartier locuit de ei, nu stiu daca te simti asa de binevenit. Tot vorbind de discriminari,arabii se plang ca sunt discriminati in Europa, dar ei nu ii suporta pe negri. Cate apropouri fatis rasiste la adresa negrilor am auzit din partea lor, ehaa. Ce dezamagitoare experienta ta cu organizatia aia contra violentei imprtiva femeilor.:(