Where am I now?

As you can see, this blog hasn't gotten any love in many years... But you can now find me on my site jessicatravels.com.

20 June 2005

Moral Dilemma?

This just happened, seriously, not five minutes ago. A woman who also works for my boss (but not for the company I work for - long story) just came in to hand me her newest invoice. She then told me a story about how, when she was printing up her invoice and putting it in an envelope, her husband had said that she shouldn't bother with the envelope if she was just coming in to work today since she could just hand me the invoice. Her response? "Why are you being such a Jew about an envelope?"

My face froze in a pained smile... I'd heard of those kinds of comments, but no one had ever said anything like that around me before. Clearly she has no idea that I'm half-Jewish, or (I hope, anyway) that she'd have thought better of telling me that story. And I'm left with this dilemma - how do I tell her that her comment is not only not funny, it's offensive (potentially very much so, depending on the audience), without making her feel worse than she needs to? In other words, it'd be best if it were a "teaching opportunity," as it were, rather than a scolding. And I have no earthly idea how to do that.

Update (11:54am): Chris sent me an email about this post and rightly pointed out that the best - and easiest - time to address these things is, of course, in the moment. It gets harder as time goes by because then you have to "have a talk." I completely agree. I have no idea why I didn't say anything in the moment. The only thing I can think of is that I was so stunned. I mean, if she had used the "N" word I'd have said something (I have in the past to others) - because in that case it's not about me, but about what's right. In this case, it'd have seemed like it was about me, and maybe that's the problem. I don't want it to seem personal - the reason it's offensive isn't because I'm half-Jewish. It's offensive because it's a racial/religious slur. The point here is that I'd like to think she'd think twice about saying it again regardless of the audience, and not just when there are Jews around.

4 comments:

cadmaven said...

Depending on the speaker and the relationship I wish to maintain I usually react immediately to "I Jewed him down!" with some comment about his parents not being legally married prior to his conception or some comment about his being the son of a female dog. We ALL have to deal with ignorance one person at a time. I certainly would have asked the woman in your story what she meant by that statement and what gave her the right to even make that kind of statement, and then taking them off my Christmas Card list.

Jessica said...

I'm still not set on a reaction. Chris thinks the "statute of limitations" has run out on making a comment about it, but I don't think so. I'm honestly looking at it like a teaching moment. Because really, I want to say that the comment isn't acceptable - and not bother saying anything about my Jewishness. We'll see.

victoria said...

While I agree that the best time to say something is in the moment, you most certainly still have an opportunity to approach her. If nothing else, you can say something like "you know, I've been thinking about the comment you made the other day and it's bothered me enough that I felt I needed to say something....". It gets your point across, you will not worry over it anymore and you will have taken the time and effort to hopefully educate someone to the fact that you just can't go around saying things like that!

Margalit said...

I had an ordeal with a woman at the supermarket
who made a similiar comment, that the place must
be "run by Jews, because the produce was in such
poor condition." She obviously didn't realize I
was Jewish, maybe I wasn't wearing a huge star
of David or whatnot.

Don't beat yourself up, if you want to still confront,
go for it. If not, just do it next time. You have to
find your own rhythm/style with these things.