Earlier this month, the New York Times ran an op-ed by Ekow N. Yankah, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, in which he questioned whether or not his children could develop friendships with white children. While he concluded that he could still be friendly with white people – especially those who had, to his satisfaction, proven that their politics aligned with his – he confessed that it would be a “pretend friendship.” He wrote:
“I will teach my boys the lesson generations old, one that I for the most part nearly escaped. I will teach them to be cautious, I will teach them suspicion, and I will teach them distrust. Much sooner than I thought I would, I will have to discuss with my boys whether they can truly be friends with white people.”
While there appears to be a disturbing trend among the political left to virtue signal using their supposedly woke young children, Prof. Yankah’s piece was, I fear, far more culturally corrosive. It was also totally at odds with my own lived experience. In the hopes that Prof. Yankah may yet reconsider his parenting decisions, I suggest a sharply different path.
I grew up in a small city in the Midwest. Mine was the only Jewish family in our neighborhood and, among the boys I played with growing up, I was the only Jew. For many of my childhood friends and classmates, I was the only Jew they had ever met. In elementary and middle school, I attended a magnet program that drew children from across the city. Still, there were only a handful of Jewish kids. Already a tiny minority in the United States (a bit more than 2 percent of the total population), I was essentially alone as a religious minority in a place and time in which one’s religion mattered greatly.