To The Boy Who Thought Telling Me I Didn’t Look Jewish Was A Compliment


I know you probably thought you were being flattering.
This was your poor attempt at starting a conversation.
You smiled as you said it.
Your lips curled upwards,
cocked your head to the side like some clueless animal trying to understand
why I wasn’t reciprocating,
why I wasn’t swooning and rushing into your cobweb of unsolicited words.
“Brush it off,” My friend says.
“He didn’t mean any harm.”
“Lighten up.”
“He was telling you he thought you were pretty,
so maybe it wasn’t the best way,
but let it go.”

As if somehow throwing in no offense always negates the offense that has been committed.
Ignorance said with a handsome face and syrupy words is not any easier to swallow.
It feels the same going down.

I hope it feels the same in your mouth.
I hope you tasted Nazi propaganda.
Tasted dehumanization.
Burning Synagogues.
Prayers for the dead in my native tongue.
Big nose.
My slaughtered ancestors.
An entire branch wiped out before they could even tell their stories.
Stories I wish I could know.
Stories I will never know.

I hope you tasted burning flesh.

You have no idea what it means to look Jewish.

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