THE BLOG
11/22/2016 05:15 pm ET Updated Nov 23, 2017

I Am a "Them"

I am a "Them".
I am one of "Those People".
I have been for my entire life,
It is who I am.

You know what I mean.
"Them".
"Those People".
As in, "We don't cater to 'Them' ".
Or " 'Those People' don't belong here"...
And so forth.

My Them-ness is easy to miss.
I can effortlessly sneak right past the unsuspecting.
Because I have light skin, blonde hair and green eyes,
I don't look like the stereotypical "Them".
I don't sound like the stereotypical "Those People".
My surname (present and past) does not now,
nor has it ever given away my Them-ness.
Throughout my life, I have been constantly insulted with the reminder that,
"You don't look like one of 'Them' ".
But the fact remains...
I am a Them.

As with millions of other Thems and Those People,
I am familiar with phrases like:
"Mass deportation".
"Build a wall".
"Round them up".
"Kick them out".
"They don't belong here".
"Send them back to where they came from".

(even if where they "came from"... is America).

Those phrases are part of both recent and ancestral history...
...and those phrases scare the hell out of me.

******

In addition to being a Them in my own right,
I am married to an immigrant.
He is also a Them.
He moved to the United States from the country in which he was born and raised;
away from everything familiar and routine...
...and to a country where much was familiar; yet much more is different.

Together, we were heavily scrutinized, interviewed
and subjected to an arduous and expensive screening process,
by two separate governments over a period of five years.
And despite what political rhetoric and certain "reality" shows would have you believe,
an immigration screening process is not quick, lackadaisical, slap-dash,
half-assed or easy to endure.

He is an immigrant.
Another one of Them.
He has an accent.
He tolerates insults.
He battles stereotypes; just as I have and do.
But because he too has light skin, blonde hair and blue eyes,
He does not look like the stereotypical "Them".

Nevertheless...he is a Them.

******

So what makes me a Them?
I am Jewish.
(and because I am constantly asked the same tired question...yes, I am Jewish by birth).

As with many Thems like myself, throughout my life I have been called:
A dirty Jew,
A gutter dog,
A Christ killer...
...and a lot worse.
I have been uninvited to functions because they were held at "restricted" venues.
I have been told - numerous times over too many years -
that I am bound for Hell because of my beliefs.
When we go to synagogue - any synagogue - during the High Holy Days,
it is generally with security guards and police units sitting in the parking lot
keeping a watchful eye.
And even in today's world - a supposedly enlightened world - microphones and air time is given to those who loudly screech that, "Jews are the 'problem' ".

However, I am an American citizen with light hair and eyes...
...so I'm not an "obvious" Them.
Which makes me "acceptable" - in passing anyway - to those who actually use the terms,
"Them" and "Those People".

My husband is indeed an immigrant,
But he does not look like a Them anymore than I do.
He emigrated from England; a country that does not generally elicit
hatred, hyperbolic rhetoric or fear-mongering.
He instead charms those who hear his lilting English accent
while he regales with stories of his homeland.
He does not draw scorn or derision for his immigrant status.
He has never once been told, "Go back to where you came from".
No government official has ever once demanded that he present his "papers"
or his permanent residency (aka "green") card.
So his kind of "Them" is apparently also OK.

Our "Them-ness" may not be what is being targeted right now
by a disturbingly large and hate-filled group of people
who have been given a voice, a platform and pseudo-legitimacy.
However, be it personally or through the history of our own ancestors,
We know what being targeted is.
We know what it looks like.
We know what it feels like
We have both been targets in our past;
Targets of hatred; targets of intolerance and targets of threats.

I am a "Them".
My husband is one of "Those People"
We stand proudly alongside any and all other Thems and Those People.

And as long as there are "Thems" and "Those People" who:

Look "different",
Feel "different",
Dress "differently",
Speak any language they wish, wherever they wish,
Love whomever they choose,
Worship who, what and however they wish...including not at all,
Vote however they please,
and are now or have ever been the innocent targets of
hatred, intolerance, narrow-mindedness, misogyny, homophobia,
xenophobia and bigotry,
We will all continue to stand proudly together side-by-side.

******

And to those who use terms like "Them" and "Those People",
We say:

No.

You do not get to treat innocent human beings
with anything other than courtesy and respect.
You do not get to speak of those who are unlike you as though we are sub-human.
You do not get to judge and/or punish millions of innocent people
based upon the actions of barely a fraction.
You do not get to infringe upon the basic human rights of any innocent human being.
You do not get to physically or emotionally threaten, assault, attack or bully
innocent human beings.
You do not get to denigrate innocent human beings - or even suggest that such a thing is remotely acceptable.
You do not get to pigeonhole and/or stereotype entire races, ethnicities or religions.
You do not get to foment, incite, encourage or provoke an atmosphere of hatred.

******

I am a "Them".
I am one of "Those People".
I have been for my entire life.
It is who I am.