Our hearts are heavy right now. Our nation is in distress. Some of us may feel uncomfortable. Others empowered. Some are filled with hate. Others are moving in love. Some remain silent. Others have found the courage to speak. Some are angry. Others unmoved. Whatever we may be feeling, the fact of the matter is, racism is still prevalent and amidst the tragic circumstances, we now have the opportunity to engage in something greater than ourselves. We have the opportunity to demonstrate love to our neighbors by mourning with them, praying with them, walking with them, kneeling with them.
As I considered the racial injustices that are still so evident today, I remembered an old picture of my grandparents with my aunts and mother. In this one picture you see what came to be after generations of interracial marriages between Africans and Europeans, after more than a century of the abolition of slavery in Dominican Republic and it’s emancipation from the Spanish rule.
[Left to right: My grandmother “Abuela Mirin”, grandfather Tomas, my aunts Darky and Dilori, and my lovely momma at 18 years old, Mariluz.]
My grandfather was of fair skin. My grandmother is dark, “morena”. My grandfather’s parents were both of fair skin. His father had light hair and blue eyes, and, according to my mother, was indeed racist. My grandmother was the child of what they referred to as an “ordinary” dark skin woman from the village and a fair skin, light-eyed Spanish man. My mother tells me my grandfather got away with marrying my grandmother because she has “good” hair. I guess that alone moved her into a more acceptable social ranking.
The story repeats in my paternal great-grandparents. Dark skin woman, light skin man.
It’s ludicrous to think that someone can consider themselves to be superior or can be placed in a higher social status based on an exterior characteristic in which they had absolutely no choice, no part, no doing, no merit.
But these pictures remind me that love broke the barriers.
Love can heal. Love can bring justice. Love can bring change.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela
In Scripture we see Jesus reaching out to those marginalized by society. He offered hope to the Samaritan woman, he touched the leper, he embraced the Gentiles, he healed the blind, he regarded the poor. All these were considered less than, cursed, unworthy of love. But Jesus was a revolutionist. Those society considered “disgusting” he considered to be worthy enough to go against centuries of high-regarded laws and traditions.
I mean, who are we anyway? Who are we but dust caught in the wind? We rise and fall alike.
Who are we to think that the epidermis that covers our flesh and bones says “I am better than you”? Who are we to think that the melanin that taints our skin gives us any honorary position in society? It’s insanity. Insanity that has been so deeply entrenched in the hearts and will require tactical steps to unlearn.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
I pray the evil in our hearts is exposed through all this. I pray that the generations of learned bigotry and racism are torn down. I pray we begin to have conversations about the way racism silently infiltrates our lives. For Latinos, I pray we let go of the idea of “mejorar la rasa” –improve the race- by ultimately making racist decisions. I pray we look into the mirror, admit our condition, release our ego, walk in love, and move towards change.
5 Easy Ways to Advocate for Racial Justice…….
1. Participate in a local protest. [See below if you reside in New Jersey, Hudson County]
Friday, June 5th
Time: 1PM to 4PM
Starting Point: Maxwell Place Park
Jersey City, NJ:
Saturday, June 6th
“Peace in the Streets Community Cleanup”
- Time: 11AM
- Starting Point: West District Police Station
“Rally to End Police Brutality”
- Time: 4PM to 9PM
- Starting Point: City Hall
2. Support BLM Movement by signing petitions, buying from black-owned businesses, educating yourself.
3. Make a Donation that can be divided among different organizations such as Movement for Black Lives, Minnesota Freedom Fund, Poor People’s Campaign & The Center for Popular Democracy via Bernie Sanders Act Blue or donate to a POC organization directly. *FYI: It has been advised that you should NOT DONATE TO SHAUN KING-GRASSROOTS LAW PROJECT as it is unclear where proceeds go*
4. Find a local SURJ group (Showing Up for Racial Justice)
5. LISTEN. LEARN. LOVE.
In solidarity and with love,
Abuela says hello! (Dominican Republic, ’18)