Updated: Jun 18, 2020
It has been over a year since I have written or posted a blog on Grace Greater Than Titles. Man, life has changed over the past year but I’ll save that for another blog at another time. The heart behind Grace Greater Than Titles is to be a safe place for leaders and pastors to share, learn, and grow. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I often have so much to learn. The motto that states “the minute you think you know it all is all you will ever know” is so true. Learning should never stop. I have heard so many times that as a leader we must have a teachable spirit. I have been thinking a lot about that statement these last couple of weeks. If I am honest, I have never been more confronted with how little I know, how much I need to learn, and how important it is for me to take action.
Being Latina I am no stranger to racism. I have been pulled over and asked in a condescending voice, “do you speak English or Spanish?” Followed by “are you coming home from cleaning?” I could hardly believe it at the time. Just recently when I moved from LA County to Orange County, I had another unpleasant experience. It’s one that I have not shared with anyone until recently because I was so embarrassed by it. I also didn’t want my family to worry about me. My second night of living in my apartment I got a knock on the door. When I opened my door I was confronted by the police who asked me what I was doing in the apartment. I explained that I had just moved in the day prior. They said they got a call that an unidentified Hispanic who had never been seen before was in the apartment. I was in shock but told the officers that I had just moved in so that was probably why. They then proceeded to ask me to show my lease agreement. In tears, I got the document and showed it to them. If you know me, you know I am not one to stay quiet or cower but in that moment I just couldn’t believe it. After seeing my lease, they stated “no hard feelings. I think people in this community are just not used to seeing a young Latin woman living in one of these apartments alone” as if a person of color couldn’t afford to possibly live here.
I don’t share these stories to say I have it just as bad as my black brothers and sisters in Christ. I share these stories to say that what I have experienced in my life is bad, but I know it is still nothing compared to what black men and women face living in this nation.
My heart has been so grieved of the injustices going on and that have been going on. Would I consider myself to be racist? No, I wouldn’t. Of course we all have biases that we are often not aware of. Would I say that I have always cared about the issues at hand? To a degree I have cared. Yet I know that this is not enough. It is not enough for me to feel bad about what’s going on. It is not enough that I am not racist. It is not enough that I have cared for civil rights in the past. It’s not enough that my family is filled with beautiful blended family members and interracial couples. I had to ask myself the tough question, what am I doing about it? The honest reality and the honest answer is that I can do more! I need to do more and I will do more. As a Pastor, lives are entrusted to us by God. What am I doing to create opportunities for those lives to share their life, share their stories, share their hurt, and experience the amazing healing power of the God I preach to them about?
The Pastoral burden is not easy. But you know what else isn’t easy, being a person of color in this nation. A nation where we are taught to say the pledge of allegiance, “ with liberty and justice for all” when that isn’t the reality for everyone. Granted not all police are bad and not all white individuals are racist. Many of my tios (Uncles) are white and let me tell you that not an ounce of them is racist. Many ministry partners that I have are white and are advocating loud and strong for people of color. As many unpleasant encounters I have had with the police I have also had great encounters. Once, when I was in a bad car accident, one of the police officers on the scene helped me, comforted me, and stayed with me until my brother came and got me. The night I was raped, a kind police officer stayed with me, gave me counsel, and even prayed with me.
Now, the goal of this blog is not to debate rather it is a call to action for myself.
I have come to the realization that I have to do more. Yes, the obvious truths of the fact are that I need to pray more and soak in the scriptures more. That is a given that will never change. We can always use more scripture and more prayer. However, I also can’t ignore or be ignorant to what is going on in the world. I don’t know who said it but I once heard that the best pastors have a bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Knowing the word of God but also being aware of what is going on in the world. I also need to dive into our history books more. Even the parts of history that some have tried to hide or cover up. I want to better understand the depth and reality of the hurt and pain of my black brothers and sisters in Christ. I need to learn about other cultures and learn about privilege. I need to be burdened for my brothers and sisters. I have to have a heart that breaks for what breaks the Father's heart. I have to have faith that leads to action because faith without works is dead. I have to dream and explore ideas to do better and be better.
I want to conclude this blog with a letter to any and all people of color who have been under my care as a pastor in the last 15 years.
Dear Beautiful People of Color,
I am sorry! I am sorry for the many injustices you experience. I am sorry for not doing enough sooner. I am sorry for not utilizing resources available to me to my full ability to help you. I am sorry that I have only scratched the surface when I should be doing all I can to rip the surface off and get to the core of the matter. I am sorry for not creating enough space for your voice to be heard and your thoughts to be shared. I know that I won’t always get it right but I want to try. I know I may be judged or criticized for trying but I am going to do it anyways. I want to try a lot harder than I ever have before. I want to take the action that you deserve for me to take. I want to be a woman of color who speaks out! I want to be a woman of color who is bold! I want to be a woman of color who gives a voice to the voiceless. I want to create opportunities for everyone I come in contact with to know the love of the Father and his healing power. My pledge to you is to do so much more than I have been doing. I will donate, I will sign petitions, I will call and advocate, I will talk and educate on tough subjects. I will create spaces to hear you, see you, honor you and empower you. I want to pray for you but also do my best to help be the answer to those prayers with actions alongside my heavenly Father. I never want this to be a bandwagon prayer. I want this to be the new reality of life and ministry every day. I know I have done some things in the past to advocate for you but it is not enough, I must do more, I will do more. Please hold me accountable to do more. I love you, I see you, I hear you, I celebrate you, I stand with you and I will act with you and for you! I want to be better for you. Your beautiful black life matters to me and even more importantly, it matters to God.
Peace and love,
A Pastor willing and boldly saying Black lives Matter.