Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Problem

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The problem is this. We live in a basically non-Jewish area. Not that there aren't any Jews. Just not too many.

The problem is that at every turn through our neighborhood, there are anti-Israel bumper stickers. Because we have a lot of Muslims who live in our neighborhood. Makes sense. There is a mosque not too far from us.

The problem is that at P-school, where Chandler attends, he is a minority in more than one way--he is bi-racial and he is Jewish. It is quite obvious that he is bi-racial. His skin color, his hair, his features. It is not so obvious that he is Jewish. Especially with his non-Jewish-sounding last name.

Last year, a young man at his school...we'll call him Amir...did not know that Chandler was Jewish. This year, however, he does know Chandler is Jewish. How this information was obtained it complicated but apparently Joe-Somebody found out and spread it to "everyone in the school" according to Chandler. Not that Chandler cares. If you know Chandler then you know he is proud to be Jewish.

The problem is that Amir is an anti-Semite. Every time he passes Chandler's desk in the two classes he has with him, he mutters "Jew" under a cough. And he gives him the Hitler-salute. And he talks about going to "military camp" over the summer. Or he says, "Shut-up, Jew." He also does this to the only other Jewish person in the class, a young woman we will call Sarah. When Sarah looked as if she were going to cry, Chandler threw some words back at Amir to stick up for Sarah and himself.

Chandler told me these things last night. He didn't take any of this personally. He was more concerned with Sarah looking hurt. He seems to take this as an isolated incident and is not fearful or anything like that. This morning I called the principal and left a voicemail message for him to call me back. No word all day from him.

After school today, Chandler explained how it happened again but this time, a boy we will call Christopher, a Catholic, overheard it and became very upset. His great grandfather was in a concentration camp and he did not appreciate Amir's words. Amir and Christopher verbally sparred. Chandler chimed in with telling Amir to shut up and to leave Christopher alone.

Finally, the principal called. I explained the situation. He is not allowed to discuss what action will be taken and I already knew he wouldn't be able to discuss it. He seemed to be on the same page with me. I trust it will be handled appropriately and if not, then I will take it to the next step.

The problem is not Chandler. He handled himself so well. He didn't fight. He told me what was going on. He stuck up for Sarah and Christopher and himself in an approriate manner.

The problem is Amir and I assume Amir's parents. What a shame it is that this kid is being raised to think that Hitler is a hero, that "Jew" is a dirty word and that it is okay to attempt to strip another of his or her dignity. What a damn shame.

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2 comments:

Heidi said...

Oh Kimber, I don't know how you guys handle all this. I can't imagine how I'll handle it if I'm ever faced with this situation. I'm just thankful to have such amazing friends to ask for help. Please know we are here to help you also!

Ashley Renee said...

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