Quite recently, I have come under continued criticism that I have “privilege” purely based on my skin color. Yet my experience living in Lawrence was anything but smooth sailing, primarily because I wasn’t just white (in a largely Hispanic or Latino city), but also Jewish (in a largely, Christian and Irish Catholic city).
On the street I lived on, Irene, there was no other Jewish people to have any understanding of my culture, and what it meant and entailed. Everyone else was Catholic or Christian on my street. This was the same at the James F. Hennessey School, the Alexander B. Bruce “Big Bruce” School, and at the Greater Lawrence Technical School as well. No Jews at all. Essentially, throughout school, I was the only Jew that I even knew.
Yet, I was never isolated because I was very social and outgoing, everywhere I worked and everywhere I went. At every school I attended, I knew nearly everyone from every social click and was connected throughout the grades and classes. No one ever hated me in school, and I never hated anyone, either. What was certainly considered a huge cultural disadvantage of being the only Jewish person, I turned into a survival skill, because I found out the importance of networking, and used that all throughout school. I knew the misfits, popular girls, wrestling team guys, nerds, and outcasts. They all either knew me, or of me, as people I hadn’t met had no particular issue introducing themselves to me. That was quite commonplace.
I was picked on, made fun of, and ridiculed throughout school. I wasn’t the only one, though. School wasn’t the greatest and I was looking forward to college. School could have been much worse though, so I’m thankful that it wasn’t.