If you ask a Non Jew “What are you?” the likely response will be something like “I’m American,” or “I’m British.” On the other hand, if you ask a Jewish Young Adult the same question, the response will undoubtedly be “I’m Jewish” regardless of their nationality. In addition, if you ask a Non Jew about their ancestry, the response will be something like “I think my mom’s family is from Germany, and my dad’s is Scottish or Irish or something.” Conversely, any JYA will respond to the same question with an answer like “They were Polish Jews”, or “They were Russian Jews”, or “They were Moroccan Jews”.
Even though on standardized tests JYAs are obligated to check the “Caucasian, Non-Hispanic, including Middle Eastern” box, in practice the average JYA would prefer to check the “Other” box. Indeed, JYA “Jacob” says that he always writes in “Eastern European Jewish,” despite the fact that the available options make it clear that for the purposes of the survey, this additional information is irrelevant. This self imposed demarcation, with its anti-assimilationist undertones, is reinforced by countless academic articles written by Jewish Elders that further encourage JYAs to feel unique due to cultural, historical, or genetic “reasoning.”
When involved in discussions about race, a Non-Jew will be strenuously corrected if they make a statement that includes the JYA in the category of white, such as: “As white people, we look kind of stupid and racist quoting that Chris Rock sketch.”
“Oh I’m not white, I’m Jewish.” The JYA will correct.
Non-Jew “Christina” reported that her JYA boyfriend would explain his preference for warm temperatures by saying, “My people are a desert people.”
“It was weird though,” she recalled, “Because his grandparents were from Russia. And I was like, um, I don’t think there is a desert in Russia”.
Usually this racial obfuscation is as harmless as trust fund kids pretending to be hard up in Williamsburg while their parents transfer cash every month. But the invariable denial of Caucasianism, even though JYAs look at sound like White people, does leave one demographic group irked: Non-Ashkenazi Jews who actually are not White.