I went to a talk and at the end was chatting with some people I'd never met before. I was asked my name.
"That's lovely. Where's that from?"
Took a while to answer, how do I answer so that this person I have never met before still likes me, and doesn't come up with every prejudice she might already have...
"It's from Hebrew but it's been Anglicized."
She bent down and picked up a piece of paper, the price list of her friend's artwork which was the reason we were there in the first place. Her friend is a Christian and her faith inspires her painting. She was black and I assumed not Jewish and likely to be a Christian as well. Which always makes me afraid. She pointed to the title of a work called Shalom and said, "that's Jewish isn't it?"
"Hebrew" I said and pronounced "Shalom. Peace, like Salam in Arabic" hoping to confuse her with my scholastic knowledge of language, throw her off the scent of my ethnicity with my erudition.

She told me she works for a merchant bank, in the back room, in administration. I then did everything I could to show her how little I know or understand of banking. Suddenly there was a great big imperative need to distance myself from any knowledge of that world.... I really don't know anything about merchant banks or what they are but I know that I had that particular conversation because I was afraid of her prejudice, her latent anti-semitism - the equation I assumed she had that Jewish = money = banking or whatever....

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