Of Skullcaps And Asshats

ryan kippah

Ryan wearing a kippah

I never wanted to be Jewish.

I never wanted to speak for a people who are not mine by blood, even if I have friends who are as close to me as family. But somehow I ended up doing both. Make no mistake, I don’t believe I am suddenly a Jew because I put on a kippah, and I do not think I have the right to speak for a people who undergo this stuff daily with no respite. I just know that to the world, when I put on the kippah, I suddenly change. I know that if I simply take off the kippah I can go back to “fitting in” but I am refusing to do it because its dishonest.

I am pale-skinned for a Metis. When I’m wearing my glasses, I can easily “pass” as a “white Canadian”, but the bigotry towards my people almost always manifests when people find out I am in fact an Indian. I have now seen it’s even worse for a Jew, because people assume that all these asshats feel comfortable being ignorant in the light of day, not just behind closed doors.

I didn’t set out last week to do anything more than show solidarity with my Jewish friends, other than perhaps make a point that Canada isn’t the Canada it purports to be. I assumed I would probably be enlightened, but what I learned actually shocked me. I am not being heroic, I am not doing anything that anyone with a conscience wouldn’t do. I think that the world in general, but especially Canada, would be a better place if we tried harder to see the world through other peoples eyes. Especially people who undergo true marginalization.

So now for the fun stuff, what I saw and experienced so far.

First off, people tend to ask really personal questions. One woman asked me if I was circumcised, which took me aback as I didn’t expect questions about my penis! I generally don’t talk about my penis or to it actually; even though it tends to make most of my important decisions, it stays under cover. Why someone would ask me if I was circumcised, I will never know considering the fact that Catholics and many other Canadians actually circumcise their kids. I answered her by saying “ Well Indians have some extra so we don’t mind cutting off the tip. It makes things more fair.”

I also noticed that I get a large number of glares, something that actually bothered me more than I thought it would. As much as I look like an large angry man, I generally am friendly towards most people, so it was a shock to have people I didn’t know glare at me. It didn’t make me defensive, it made me angry. I literally wanted to ask them “Do you have a problem with me?”

I had people tell me they didn’t think I should wear something so offensive, which I found odd. I have some T shirts that even I think are offensive, yet nobody in Canada has ever said a word to me, even when I wore a T shirt with a woman in a hijab saying “ Thank you for not provoking my uncontrollable lusts.” Or “Save the trees, wipe your ass with an owl.” So can someone explain to me why a simple cap with some Hebrew on it is considered to be so damn offensive?

The last one is the most annoying, the “reasonable” guy who explains how he doesn’t hate Jews, he hates Zionists, and the Rothschilds and the people who control the banks and the media who happen to be Jewish. I met two of those guys, the asshats not the Rothschilds. On the asshat scale they are about a 10.5. I have no doubt they tell themselves they aren’t bigots, but what they say is every bit as offensive to me as the one guy who told me I was a genocidal baby killer. The odd thing is that wearing a kippah doesn’t mean you support Israel. I have debated Jewish people like Lucas Koerner who wore a kippah and hates Israel. I wish that kid would walk through one of these neighbourhood wearing his kippah. Maybe he would understand why the world needs Israel.

I am halfway through the week, the week I decided to wear a Kkippah. I have had some good experiences but they have been vasty outweighed by ignorance and outright bigotry. I think people are unaware of the bigotry. I have to believe that this is the case because if they knew and still said nothing , I would have to say they are asshats.

I am not going to stop calling out racism and bigotry and I am going to shine a light on what I believe to be the last “acceptable” form of prejudice.

Update: You can hear an interview with me speaking about my experiences wearing a kippah over here.

About Ryan Bellerose

A member of the indigenous Metis people, Ryan grew up in the far north of Alberta, Canada with no power nor running water. Ryan was unsure if his real name was "Go get water!" or "Go get wood!" In his free time, Ryan plays Canadian Rules Football , reads books, does advocacy work for indigenous people and does not live in an Igloo.

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