Saturday, February 14, 2009


It 's good to experience being in the minority sometimes, if you are usually of the majority.

My childhood experience was as majority as you can get--a WASP in Minnesota in the '50's and '60's. Now Minnesota is much more diverse, of course. But in my elementary and junior high school years in a small town on Lake Minnetonka, about 10 miles west of Minneapolis, everyone was like me. So I didn't even think about it. I just took that way of living and experiencing the world for granted.

Even now, although I live in a more diverse neighborhood, I still usually experience life through the lens of being "the norm". So, it was an interesting experience a few years ago when I was at a meeting of our neighborhood steering committee with 7 other women. It was right before Christmas. Our host put out snacks, including large pretzel sticks dipped in white chocolate and drizzled with dark chocolate lines to resemble birch trees. I thought they looked lovely. I was about to comment that they would be fun to make for Christmas gifts, when it occurred to me that I was the only non-Jewish person in the group, and so that remark would be irrelevant to everyone else. I kept it to myself.

But I was taken aback by that experience. I wondered, what must it be like to be a minority person (whether of religion, culture, race, sexual orientation or whatever) living in a majority unlike yourself. Do you keep your thoughts and experiences to yourself when they are not shared by the people you're with?

It was an interesting and valuable experience, and I hope I hold onto it.

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