Culture, Identity, Mishegas, Peoplehood

NYTimes Smashes Connecticut Town. Native Jewish Boy applauds.

Connecticut, One of the 13 Original Colonies.
Connecticut, One of the 13 Original Colonies.
The recently posted NYTimes Article about East Haven, CT Police smacks some childhood memories back into my head.
I grew up in Connecticut, in a part of Connecticut that was heavily working class with some ironic mixture of aristocracy and decaying housing projects. It was also not a particularly Jewish place, but being in the tri-state area, it possessed a medium sized Jewish community. I was raised in a town with a small Jewish population, and went to shul in the larger, exceptionally poor city to the immediate southeast. When I read this article about allegations against the East Haven Police Department, I remember and identify with the diseased kind of racist-garbage corruption among the police and town government, which stands accused of police bias, brutality and violence against its burgeoning Hispanic population. As I think more and more, I see my own upbringing in this news and remember odd moments in which racial prejudice, growing ethnic diversity, and the heavy presence of white ethnics, like the Irish, Italians and Greeks, always smashed into my Jewishness. I always felt that my Jewish self, how I understood its history and all that shiz, was really fired in a kiln of bigotry and national resentment. Mix recent, Latino immigration with the generations of working-class blacks and white ethnics that had been working CT land for generations, and you get people sweating. How did the Jews fit into the history of this working-class New England town? Did Jewish tradition, or even ritual life, have express anything about the the material conditions of my upbringing?  I just think today of all the Jewish kids who are experiencing something like East Haven up close, and to hear their voices. We are still dwelling most deeply in Bovel.
To read about recent accusations of Police Bias in East Haven, CT, read the NYTimes article here.

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