What Race Are You?

Desert Road.

Desert Road.

What Race do you identify with?
A Marathon!

(Rimshot)

Actually, that isn’t the opening joke in my lounge act, but part of an important recent conversation.

I was asked this question in the Red Cross Blood Drive pre-screening. The inquirer, an African-American, was completing the questionnaire and asked me to identify myself by race. There was a time when I would have responded Caucasian/White. But I uncomfortably paused and then quipped Marathon. We laughed and then we skipped the question. But, I actually do not know how to answer that question anymore.

I am not ashamed of what is now called my “white privilege.” As a Jew in America, the ability to call myself Caucasian/White is on some level a sign that we made it and have gained popular acceptance. But perhaps this acceptance remains elusive. This simple gathering of data for statistical tracking purposes has become a marker of something more complicated and fraught. [Read more…]

Sometimes They Do Listen: Sunday Times Recants Grotesque Cartoon

— by Steve Wenick

I recently wrote a letter to the The Sunday Times, a London newspaper, castigating it for publishing an outrageous cartoon which portrayed a Jew in the most hideous manner. Their initial public response was that it was a criticism of Bibi Netanyahu’s policies and it was by no means meant to disparage all Jews. However, as I pointed out to the newspaper’s editors, Bibi has neither a large hook nose nor large rat-like ears; a favorite Der Sturmer-like characterization of Jews.  Therefore their lame excuse was unacceptable and their cartoon inexcusable.

To my shock, the acting editor of The Sunday Times responded to me in a somewhat conciliatory manner. Here is the correspondence I received via email:

Dear Wenick

I am grateful to you for writing to The Sunday Times and expressing your views so clearly. I’d like to apologise at the outset for the offence caused by Gerald Scarfe’s cartoon published last Sunday.

Its publication was a terrible mistake. The timing – on Holocaust Memorial Day – was inexcusable. The associations on this occasion were grotesque. As someone who understands the history and iconography in this context, I appreciate fully why publication has caused such offence and I apologise unreservedly for my part in that.

I sought an urgent meeting with leading members of the Jewish community, and am pleased to say that we got together on Tuesday evening. It was a frank but constructive meeting. Mick Davis, Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, accepted my apology on behalf of the group and told the press afterwards that the community “now looks forward to constructively moving on from this affair”.

I hope you will find this reply reassuring; I thank you again for your correspondence.

Yours sincerely

Martin Ivens
Acting Editor