Growing up in New York City, it was the usual practice for people to refer to themselves as “Irish,” “Jewish,” or “Italian.” Not “Irish-American,” but simply “Irish.” The same for all other ethnic groups in the so-called melting pot that was New York in the middle of the last century.

We also lived in segregated enclaves in New York. We had, in our enclave, a lot of O’Gradys, Reillys, Kellys and others whose parents or grandparents were fresh off the boat from the Ould Sod. Likewise, we had Schwartzs, Cohens, and other Jews, first and second generation Americans.

In my neighborhood, there seemed to be no Italians or Poles or WASPS, for that matter. At least none that I was aware of. For those rare species, one would have to travel at least ten blocks. I never met or knew anyone who was not Irish or Jewish, until I hit junior high school. In which we had a few Italians. It wasn’t until I went to high school (a public school) that I found out there were Christians who were not Catholic and people who were Puerto Rican and black. Who knew?

The point is that we lived as tribes, each one as separate and apart from the others as we could manage. Then I became a Bible-believing Christian, a Protestant. And the truth about our so-called tribal nature is perhaps best expressed in Galatians 3:28-29:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Now that’s equality; equality under Christ Jesus. Which is why my first identity is Christian; my second American. The rest is not important.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: