Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Black, white, and other

Mikel Del Rosario
Sure. Well, this is an area where I feel I could grow the most in terms of the things that we discuss at the Center because I was born in the United States but I grew up in the Philippines, so I’m Filipino American but grew up in the Philippines as a missionary kid. My parents were with Campus Crusade for a while, and really especially in the South, the conversation between the African American community and the Anglo community is something that I felt that, one, I didn’t really understand as much, and then secondly, I’m not entirely sure how I fit in to that conversation, and so is it something where I just help facilitate or do I stand back and watch? Is there something I can do to speak into that and help people with reconciliation or whatever?

So that was interesting for me to be part of that conversation with a little bit of an outside, but also now living here in Texas for a number of years, too.

Well, when we were going to move into this area, one, as I’ve mentioned already, this is one area where I feel like I could grow the most just because not having grown up in the United States, really when I went to college in Southern California was the first time that I know as an adult that I moved to the United States, and the conversation in Southern California is very different than what we have in the South [Texas] here where there’s lots of Hispanics. There’s lots of Asians and it’s unless you’re in certain pockets, you don’t have a white majority in a lot of places.

Possibly because of the history and the region, the area. When we were doing ministry in Southern California with Vietnamese refugees and Hispanics, the Hispanic and Vietnamese Asian gang, those were the concerns, gang warfare between Asian gangs and Hispanic gangs, and so there wasn’t as much of a black-white conversation in Orange County, where we were at, at least the ministry that we were doing, and so walking into this for me was something kind of new.

Well, I think kind of like Amanda, I learned that for a lot of my white brothers and sisters that there’s this feeling of there’s almost a reverse ethnocentrism that happens if they get into the conversation in a certain place where they feel like, “Now I have to apologize for being white and what can I do?” 

To go back to the privilege walk, another thing I learned is we have different perspectives on what privilege actually is. So for example, one of the questions said if you grew up in an urban environment, take a couple of steps back, and I thought, “I didn’t know I was not privileged ’cause I grew up in an urban environment ’cause I felt sad for people who had to grow up in the corn.” I had hotels, and malls, and all kinds of things.

Well, it’s not just something you read about in a book. What a movie does is it helps you enter into something emotionally and so that was helpful for me. And then when it came to the readings, one, when we started branching out beyond simply the black-white conversation, not that it’s a simple conversation but exclusively focusing on that, one, I felt heard. I felt like less of a ghost. I felt even though I personally, in my experience growing up in the Philippines and then moving to the United States as an adult, I have not felt held back in any way whatsoever by the fact that I’m not white...

In terms of identity for me, it solidified in my mind how strongly certain people hold to ethnicity as part of their identity. Now for me personally, that’s not something I hold very, very strongly. I’m cognizant that that’s a part of who I am but I hold much more strongly to other things about me, like being a Christian, for example, whereas for other people, it’s a lot higher on their values list than for me, so just an awareness of that. Also an awareness of whenever someone looks at you, before you even open your mouth about the gospel or anything else, they’ve already formed some kind of an idea about who you are, and what you believe, and especially if you’re from different ethnicities, there may be an unspoken communication thing that’s already going on there that you need to understand, a pre-understanding that you need to know where they’re coming from so that you can engage better.

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