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Are you prejudice?

You know how in movies about psych wards where the protagonist is not insane, but everyone thinks she is? It’s infuriating. No matter what she does, no matter how normal or healthy she behaves, her actions are immediately classified as insanity. A healthy person is perceived as unbalanced and loony for no reason at all—except that someone said she was.

That’s what racism is like.

I grew up with anti-semitism in New England. I had friends—until they found out I was Jewish. It was awful. I had food thrown at me, was chased home from school every day and called “a dirty Jew.”  I learned early on in life that there is no humanity when you don’t see someone’s heart. When you only see their color (or their religion or culture), you cannot then face them as real people.

I went to school in the Deep South. I (quite literally) had to keep my door locked at night.  One day I walked into my room and bloody meat bones dripping blood were hanging in my closet and limburger cheese was spread all over my lipsticks and put under a desk lamp, so it would melt an make this horrible odor. I eventually made friends with children of families of the KKK and didn’t even know it, until they came out and said to me things like, “if my parents knew you were such a nice Jew, they would have invited you over our home much sooner.”

It hurt. The pain was searing. And the frustration at not being able to do anything about it, was exasperating. Injustice makes me crazy.  Ignorance and unfounded presuppositions cloud the reality of who people really are. We approach one another as less than human.

When I travel outside of New York City, and visit small towns up and down the beautiful coast, I can feel the uneasiness right under the surface. People are polite, but there is something terse about their mannerisms because I am seen as different.  That’s why I live in New York City: no strangers or passersby, none of my peers or colleagues, gives two cents whether or not I am Jewish. I dress funky. I have weird ideas of my own, and I don’t walk the straight and narrow, more “traditional” road. And I love it.

When we learn to listen to those around us, to hear their songs for what they are, we become open to discovering new beauty and new intimacy. Only then can we transcend bigotry and bias and learn to love. And love, as an old Jewish proverb goes, is the beginning of wisdom.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 at 8:51 am and is filed under Clients, Friends and Colleagues, Industry News, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Are you prejudice?”

  1. Ann Reed Says:

    What a beautiful and disturbing piece. I love it when people share their stories of overcoming/accepting adversity and share the love they have in their heart. Thank you, Sherri, and I look forward to getting to know you.

  2. Chris Donnelly Says:

    Beautiful post Sherri! Now I see why you do such great work with authors (from all different walks of life)- with such a variety of human stories to tell. What an accomplishment- you’ve taken something that could be so paralyzing and sour and turned it into love – and used your passion to spread that love and to give other people’s important stories a voice! Thanks for being a publicist with a penchant for true human spirit.

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