-There's a new production of Romeo and Juliet, and while Romeo is white, controversy of controversies, Juliet is black. Having not given much thought to Shakespeare since high school required this (I somehow made it through college without taking a single English class), I'm not sure what race Romeo and Juliet have been in earlier productions. I remember something about men playing the male and female roles, but that was a very long time ago. Presumably their are Shakespeare-auditioning actors of all races. Is this pairing a first? I have no idea, but would doubt it. All I know is, Dodai Stewart of Jezebel isn't pleased, arguing that this casting was a way to cause controversy and sell tickets. Which... seems not very Jezebel. The problem here - if a problem there must be - is that Condola Rashad is the daughter of famous people, and therefore - however talented - a likely beneficiary of nepotism. The problem is not that a black woman has been a) cast in something, or b) cast alongside a white man.
-Stanley Fish presents Naomi Schaefer Riley's new book (that, fine, I probably have to read) on inter-religious marriage in America today. And the findings are... basically the same objections one found in 19th century France. (Although Riley herself is apparently intermarried, and therefore presumably OK with intermarriage.) That even those who think they're secular will, with Life Experience, find that they are, deep down, super-religious after all. That secularism is a childish flirtation, and that once one is a real grown-up, the desire to worship latkes or peeps or whatever will set in and not budge. Well. As a fake grown-up, one who's not yet 30, doesn't have kids, and is still technically a student, I may have to wait for my inner Hasid to emerge.
One thing not like 19th C France - Jews, Riley found, are actually the religious group most likely to marry out. And yet, the stereotype of the insular, intermarriage-fearing Jewish family (esp. Jewish mother-of-son) persists. Discuss amongst yourselves, while I track down this book, as I will probably need to cite this tidbit in my dissertation.
One thing I can't quite wrap my head around:
[F]aith has become “racialized”; that is, we have come to think that “like skin color [it] is a trait that need not divide us.” But, Riley demurs, believing that faith “is a superficial characteristic the way race [and] ethnicity are” doesn’t make it so. In fact, “religious identity … can and should be considered” as more substantive than racial identity; and like any other substance it remains in place even when the commonplaces of multicultural doctrine tell us that it shouldn’t really matter.Given that it appears "interfaith" in this conversation appears to mean Jews marrying people who are either Catholics or Protestants, it would seem that Judaism was "racialized" long, long ago. Nazism? Dreyfus? Spanish Inquisition? But for most everyone, religion, culture, etc. are all wrapped into this one thing called Your Background, and it's tough to say what's what. The Christmas tree example Riley brings up - is this about religion? What if, as happens often enough, a non-Jewish spouse who never went to church nevertheless expects a tree? Is that atavistic Christianity? Isn't the far more likely explanation that, in otherwise secular couples, the tree is desired - or not - for cultural reasons?