Thursday, October 17, 2019 -
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Countering racial slurs with clarity

I was ecstatic when our dear friends Barry and Bonnie called to tell us they were coming for a visit.

Like most people, my husband and I rarely make time to do the wonderful “touristy” things in Tucson that others travel thousands of miles to see. So I immediately rushed to the phone to reserve a spot for the four of us for a tour at the world-renown caves located in southern Arizona.

It was a glorious day and as we waited on the patio for the tour group to gather, our guide asked each of us where we were from.

“I live in San Diego now but I grew up in Oak Park, Michigan,” Barry answered with a smile.

“Isn’t that the place they call Jewtown? You know, the place where all the Jews live?” our guide asked nonchalantly.

I stood frozen in my disbelief, but without missing a beat, Barry answered him with the kind of clarity and calmness found only in an operating room.

“I’m one of them and I am offended by your comment.”

Our guide was truly bewildered. “But why?” he asked in earnest. “I had lots of Jewish friends when I lived in Detroit and when we would drive past Oak Park, they told me that’s what it’s called.”

The rest of this article is available in the June 6, 2014 IJN print and digital edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at or subscribe to our online e-Edition.

Amy Lederman

IJN Columnist | Reflections

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