Friday, September 06, 2013

Gotta dance!

[Editor's note: On Sunday, September 8th, I decided this blog post was too long. So I split it into two. You can read the second part here.]

Hey y'all. I know it's been awhile. I've been busy (I'll explain later,) but now I'm back. I know some of you are/were looking for a Trayvon Martin post. Of course I have thoughts on the verdict, but I am not going to write them today.

Today, I want to talk about the video below. It's possible you've already seen it, since it went viral a couple of weeks ago. If that's the case, you don't really need to watch it again.

That was how Sam Horowitz, a 13-year-old from Texas, made his grand entrance at the party/reception following his Bar Mitzvah. I'm guessing it went viral because it could definitely be described as over the top. Although, it doesn't even have a million views so is that even viral? Whatevs.

One of the places that I saw Sam's video was a site that I have liked on Facebook that talks about all things Jewish. Whoever runs their Facebook page asked people what they thought about the performance. Surprisingly, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative. People talked about how his family had messed up priorities, were materialistic, were going to make other families feel like they had to "keep up with the Joneses" and other similar things.

One thing that really stood out to me was that the comment that had the most likes contained the phrase "[this] makes us look bad."

That of course, begs the question: Look bad to whom?

Well, we all know the answer to that. It supposedly makes them look bad to Goyim, non-Jewish people.

As a non-Jewish person, I thought the routine was fun, and just a young boy who likes to dance, performing for his friends and family. I heard on Inside Edition that he had done some fundraising for people in Israel. Community service is apparently part of what you are supposed to do when you have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

It also bugs me when people say things like, "The money spent on x could have fed y starving children!" It's like, "Um, the computer you're writing your self-righteous comment on could probably be sold to buy a poor person a whole new wardrobe."

I am of the opinion that people can do what they want with their money. If they did what you wanted them to do with it, that'd make it your money.

So I left a comment that said what I just said, minus the part about how people spend their money (I don't like to be snarky.) I didn't say, "I'm not Jewish..." but since I'm black and my last name is Gustafson...people probably figured it out. And yes, I know you can be a black person named Gustafson AND Jewish--but I'm not.

You know how many people liked my comment? Zero.

Another sidenote: Am I the only person who goes back to comments I've written on Facebook to see how many likes they get?


Ok, nevermind.

So all this brings me to my point: What is up with this concept that things that people do make other people look bad? You rarely hear about white, straight, tall, able-bodied men talking about how other people like them make them look bad.

Also, what is up with saying things about a member of your own group that if another person who wasn't part of that group said, would get them labeled racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, etc.? If you click through to see the comments on the video on youtube, you will see what I mean. And I have experienced this on sites that are about black people as well. And with people I know for sure are black, because they are sitting right in front of me.

If you find yourself being highly critical of members of your group for displaying certain characteristics, in a way that you don't allow other people to be, you need to realize that either:

1) Those people not in your group have a point, and don't be so quick to label them as evil and hateful.


2) Your internalized racism/homophobia/anti-semitism/etc. is so high that you are doing the work of your oppressors for them.

If you don't like materialistic people, fine.

If you think that video proves that the Horowitz family is materialistic and you don't like them because of that, less fine, but fine.

If you think that the Horowitz family is materialistic because they are Jewish, not fine.

If you think poorly of other Jewish people because you saw this video of Sam, not fine.

Of course, I want to hear what you think. If you are part of a marginalized group, what do you think about the idea of whatever making us look bad?

And the reason I have been busy...I had another baby! She was born at the end of June. If/when she does something blog worthy, I will call her Georgina. And no feet pictures, but you can rest assured that she is adorable (:

So seriously, leave me a comment. I've missed you all, and I want to know what you're thinking.


  1. Um, I think that all the time. When a white person says, especially in a minority space, some racist shit I feel it creates me having to prove that I'm not a part of them - even the people who say the really messed up shit that is far removed from the racishness that I have going on sometimes.

    Also, when I was in high school through my early 20s I never liked to admit I was of Irish descent which, growing up in Boston, is an odd thing to omit. The first year gays matched openly in the Boston Paddys day parade (and were assaulted) I turned to my friend who had never understood my reluctance and said " see? See that? That's why".

    And now that I have kids I'm very conscious when I'm out and even a little bit with my friends who are black as to whether they are judging me as being too permissive of a parent; I've

    There's more but you get the gist. Now does this make me unusual for white people - I think so but only because I've never heard other white people talk about it. But who knows - I don't think I've ever told anyone all that.

    I check to see if my comments got likes.

    I always like to ask people how come the black kid that saved the abducted girl didn't "make it easier" for black people, or the 13 yo genius, or the dude that saved the Castro captives etc

    Here's my recommendation to read about "other" - if you are heterosexual or homosexual and white - give "black girl dangerous" a read. It's certainly not the only one but its the one that has pushed me hardest

  2. Omg and congrats!!

  3. I think the kid in that video is pretty cute, but he looks so young compared to all those women! :)

    Thanks as always for the food for thought, myblackfriend. Give your little girl a kiss from us.

  4. Congratulations, and I completely agree with you.

    Not your money, not your business.

  5. Why is it I get so pissed? I try to say it is because they spend so much money on a party. But, I could see myself spending that money too, only my party event would be worth commemorating. Then I say its because they glorify a kid so much. Like every party in his life has to be better than any party he had before, and better than any party any kid he knows had. And then I think that it might be because I never had a party of any kind when I was a kid. Hell, my family was happy they could serve a nice meal to celebrate my birthday. And I bet my memory is selective to boot.

    So its not about Jewish culture for me, its about class and wealth. And I definitely don't believe that people can do what they want with their money. I better stop now. I'm obviously in a bad mood.

  6. I really enjoyed this post MBF. I think your adorable baby brought out your snark whether you like it or not!

    Like cassdawn I think about this a lot, particularly when I am in my social context of "white stay at home mom friends who are financially comfortable." They say stuff or act ways that I think make us look bad in a negative stereotypical way, and I'm glad they're not the only group I identify with, though I wish sometimes I had a sign on my shirt advertising that.

    I've thought that about myself (done the work of my oppressors, would you believe) with appearance, particularly the stereotype that fat people are sloppy, and feared that I should dress nicer to "compensate" for my body...admitting that here is a big deal for me.

    I like when your posts have more personal opinion like this one did, and am glad to have you back!


  7. oh, and doncha know you can save yourself the click of shame and just sign up for notifications that your comments have been liked? :)