When you grow in Arkansas with even a hint of a swarthy complexion, you’re going to get bullied and harassed.
When I entered fifth grade at Woods Elementary, my teacher asked me in front of the class if I was Chinese. When I replied, “I don’t think so,” Mr. Williams shrugged his shoulders.
“Dark hair, dark eyes, dark skin and good at math,” he said. “Seems like Chinese.”
The conversation at dinner that night was memorable.
When I made it to Chaffin Junior High School, I had my first brush with anti-Semitism. I’d get clipped in hallways with the wood “heeb” muttered under their breath. I had to honestly look up the word in the library.
There was only one Jewish family in our town, the Wilsons. I was bewildered by the abuse. We were Presbyterian.
At my second job, one of the senior editors kept pressing me on my ethnicity. One day, she declared: “Look, you’re Jewish. So I’m just going to treat you that way.”
So she began wishing me “Happy Hanukkah” and ascribing stereotypical (and racist) personality traits to my behavior. When I’d offer to split the check at lunch, she’d say: “Ha – cheap – just like a Jew.”
That also was the year I began growing a beard, which apparently made things worse. The editor of the magazine asked me to shave it off saying: “You look like an Arab terrorist.”
So to settle these sorts of questions (which also occasionally dog my daughters) I took the Ancestry DNA test earlier this year. All tests have their limits, but until they develop an instant pee test for Jewish, Arab or Chinese, this is what we’ve got.
Here are the results:
Great Britain: 43%
Europe West: 18%
Europe East: 17%
Iberian Peninsula: 7%
Europe South: 2%
European Jewish: < 1%
Middle East: < 1%
Finland/Northwest Russia: < 1%
So you can pretty much insult me using almost any slur (except Chinese) and be correct. This also gives me carte blanche to use both English and Continental woodworking tools.
— Christopher Schwarz