On Saturday, April 23, there was an event for seniors of minority and marginalized communities to speak with Wellesley professors about life after Wellesley. College Government and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion promoted the event.
This Saturday was also the first day of Passover, one of Judaism’s larger holidays, marking the passage of the Hebrews from slavery to freedom from Egypt and the beginning of the journey to Israel. Regardless of religiosity, most Jews celebrate Passover as a time to be with family and remember the history of our people.
To translate for my non-Jewish friends — hosting a diversity event on Passover would be like hosting an event on Easter, Eid Al-Fitr, Diwali, or any other major holiday.
As a community living in white Christian society, we have adjusted to events being held on dates that are sacred to us. It’s not as though exclusion is new. The irony of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion hosting a diversity event on Passover is not just a sarcastic punch line. It represents the willingness of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to exclude persistently marginalized communities.
For many that read this letter, they will fall back to the “Jews as White” narrative that has been impressed on our community in the past few years in the United States. While some Jews enjoy the privileges of being white passing, many do not — including the Sephardi, Mizrachi, Ethiopian, Kochin, and East Asian Jews. To collapse all Jews into whiteness excludes more than a third of the world’s Jewish population. But more than this, it dismisses the unique set of challenges that Jews face, including anti-Semitism, particularly in the United States where assimilation is expected.
It is my sincere hope that the College Government and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will not repeat the atrocious exclusion of a community it purportedly serves. But moreover, I hope the marginalized communities at Wellesley will stand in solidarity, safeguarding each other from future trespasses.
Jordan R. Hannink ’16