Tova Ricardo
Tova Ricardo

A Black History Month poem: i think a lot about color

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i admit   i think a lot about color. but i don’t hate my skin as much as i’m told to leave it outside of the synagogue door. i talk a lot about being black because  let’s be honest   i have no other choice.

i grew up at the corner of i can’t wait for services and what if the congregants think i’m not really jewish. I spend long minutes wondering if the black person on the shul website is the only black person there. i spend even more time wondering if that black person would tell me that it’s safe being us there.

and yes   i know   i never needed to worry if i belonged. i come from lines of strong jewish women. but sometimes  even that doesn’t feel like enough. my mother tells me that i am much too concerned with what others think      that i seem to be convincing myself that i’m jewish enough.

i don’t mean to invalidate who i am and where i come from. i belonged from birth. nothing about my blackness takes away from my judaism. i say my blessings like i always have: ashkenazi american black and reliant on transliteration. but i don’t think my color makes Gd listen to me less.

i shouldn’t have to defend my lineage before i’m asked to pass the challah. i just want to get my prayers in. i’m reading a nice book that i want to tell others about and i’m trying not to rave about this new modest fashion line that i spent too much money on. i’m working on using less technology on saturdays but sometimes i can’t resist that tv show. i’d like to talk about that and not repeat that yes, i was born jewish the third time. i’d like to talk about the time i cried my eyes out in the negev, that apple sauce is better with latkes than sour cream, and how much i love the Rebbe.

and really i came here to talk to Gd. sometimes i just want that to be enough.

Tova Ricardo
Tova Ricardo

Tova Ricardo is an award-winning spoken word poet, writer, and Jewish advocate from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a digital producer with the Tel Aviv Institute, a nonprofit that uses social media to promote Jewish and Zionist perspectives. Follow her on Instagram @tovathepoet.