Thursday, October 27, 2005


I never took a back seat to anyone. My father taught his girls to speak their minds. Social justice like fluoride in the water of New York. It was all about fair--what was, what wasn't--even though only one or maybe two black faces peppered my annual class photos. Something shifted when we indexed values to property rather than morals, but we all know what happens when you don't take the high ground.

I was born white, woman, Jew or is it woman, white, Jew? In 1939, the latter would have been enough to buy me that train ticket. Unless I get off the T in Roxbury by mistake I just see myself freckled, head graying faster than I pretend not to notice. The woman part, well, I don't have much in common with Victoria's Secret models unless you count the plumbing and the twin peaks.

My husband thinks I’m beautiful. Our not-so-perfect bodies still fit convex to concave. His white and my white are not the same, his darker, olive tones, warm brown eyes, perhaps some Sephardic or Semitic sojourn in his family's flight from eastern Europe. My heritage also scattershot. But the genetic paint-mixer matches my children’s skin to the magic color chip. A winning lottery ticket complete with blue eyes and smooth, dark hair, two and a half bathroom house in Newton, good grades on the MCAS and the balls to complain about property taxes.

Rosa, yesterday’s paper buried your obituary behind a fourteenth inning win by those other Sox. Your face stares directly at me, braids neatly piled on top of your head and your eyes, not angry, not defiant, only a little disappointed. They plead, quietly, politely: Don’t segregate my biography in the library section labeled "Black History Month."

ljcohen, 2005

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