them + me


I was explaining about my recent trip to Australia and how I had a strong reaction that reminded me why I left: both family and community-wise.

I explained how my community in Melbourne, is a post-Holocaust community predominately - unlike the Jewish community here in London - and so it's very defensive. It has a particularly strong feeling of insularity. I compared it the Bengali community here in the Eastend.

What a mistake! First of all, it is not my place to go speaking on behalf of any other community despite any number of conversations I have had with Bengali friends, colleagues, students... But mostly, I saw T's face glaze over with a kind of look of pity. She asked me what community were they? I repeated. Her look of pity intensified.

I don't know - this is complete conjecture, but she must of looked at me and thought I look normal enough. Good on me for 'escaping'. But how sad for everyone else. That's how I understood it anyway. So I quickly added, that it's not for me to judge if every time you leave the community you're faced with a racist attack. Of course I understand the choice not to assimilate. I don't know whether that did anything in terms of damage-limitation though.

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