The piece below was written a few years ago, in 2014 I think. I sound pretty angry and I was incredibly frustrated at the time. I was just beginning to understand what my skin color meant to me and to other people. Things have gotten better, but there’s definitely still work to be done.
It’s just a color, they say. The color of your skin no longer matters, they insist. They are wrong, it does matter when you find yourself the brown speck in a sea of white.
I belong here, I think. I am Jewish, I went to the mikvah, I am among my own, I say. My bones say otherwise as they carry me out the door.
I carried the Torah in my arms, letting the words of the Sh’ma roll off my tongue, surrounded by the spirits of Abraham and Sarah. The rabbi declared me part of the Tribe, as if I had been there at Mount Sinai. Welcome the convert as your own, the Torah says.
No one told me that color matters in the sanctuary, in the community. The color of my skin never stopped me before. Color matters. It matters so much more than they will say, than they will admit.
God may not care what color I am, but the people I am supposedly a part of do. I still say the Sh’ma with as much love as I did the day I was reborn, but they don’t care. I should turn away from these people who shut their tents to me, but I long to be inside, lighting candles, welcoming the new week.