I graduated from eighth grade at Pacific Union College Elementary School in June of 1980 and flew to Washington D.C. where my father was preparing a defense of his controversial views on the church’s Heavenly Sanctuary Doctrine.
We had an apartment in Baltimore. I had no friends. I occupied myself by throwing a ball against the wall and going to the library most of the day.
One afternoon coming out of the library, I saw a black kid my age walking towards the door I was exiting, so I held the door for him like I had done hundreds of times before.
Imagine my shock when the black kid laid into me with the epithets. “Don’t f***ing open the door for me, you stupid motherf***er” he said.
“Why not?” I asked.
“Because I hate what your people did to my people.”
I was shocked. I had never encountered anything like it. Such speech was inconceivable from a Seventh-Day Adventist.
Adventists had tons of black people and brown people and yellow people. Adventists were abundantly composed of every race. I grew up among all races. What mattered most in my community was religion, not race. It was shocking to me to be abused on the basis of my skin color.
It was not the last time this would happen to me and it would always come from young black men. No other race has ever overtly dissed me for my skin color and tried to stir up hatred and strife.
The only racism I have ever seen (and I am defining “racism” as the deliberate hurting of someone solely on the basis of race) has been from young black men on whites. I know people who avoid blacks and only want to mix with their own kind but I don’t define them as racist because they would never deliberately do anything to hurt someone on the basis of race. They never inflict needless pain on people on the basis of race. They simply want to lead their lives free from the high rates of crime and social dysfunction that characterize much of black life, particularly in the inner city.
I go to shuls where there are Jews of every color and our common Jewish identity is more important than our skin color to everyone I know well.