Two threads on my Facebook news feed have gotten me thinking about the impact of advertising in the last couple of days. The first is this video, a really beautiful trailer for a Seattle-based group that educates about gender and sexuality. The trailer features a diverse group of young people talking about what we should be teaching when we teach gender and sexuality in schools. It challenges assumptions, makes connections between issues of identity and daily life, and charges viewers with the responsibility to take action.
As I embark on my final days of high school, I am working feverishly hard (well, let’s face it – senioritis makes me say I’m going to do so) on my senior project. My project, a collection of interviews with New York Jewish women on the intersection of Judaism and feminism (how appropriate!), is an exploration of how personal identity can be shaped by external forces/movements.
Lynn Amowitz was born and raised in North Carolina. Her community had very few Jews –- so few that her parents founded a synagogue in order for her to have a Bat Mitzvah. Amowitz suffered anti-semitic harassment from her peers, an experience which, she said, led to her work in human rights.
Next week is the release of Berlin 36 in German cinemas. Berlin 36 is a film about Gretel Bergmann, the talented German high jumper denied a spot on the 1936 Olympic team because she was Jewish. Rather than face the embarassment of a Jew winning a gold medal for Germany, the Third Reich selected gentile Dora Ratjen to compete in Bergmann's place. Two years later, a doctor revealed that "Dora" was actually a man.
By now everyone must have heard about the Henry Louis Gates/Officer Crowley debacle in which an African-American Harvard professor was arrested for disorderly conduct after being questioned by police when a neighbor saw him trying to break into his own house. Now, both Gates and Officer Crowley are headed to the White House to "have a beer" with Obama and chat it out.
You may have noticed a former beauty queen in the news lately, but I'm not going to write about her. Instead, I'd like to focus on Bess Myerson, the first and only Jewish Miss American, who won her title on September 8, 1945, just four months after V-E Day. Ms. Myerson's victory was seen as a symbol of America's post-war rejection of Europe's anti-Semitic horrors.