By Christopher Hernandez
I was given an opportunity to attend the National Christian Multicultural Student Leaders Conference (NCMSLC) in Buffalo, New York last semester and reflected on the conversation of “white privilege” presented at the conference in my last article “What does your mirror say?” If you didn’t get a chance to read it, visit beaconblog.wordpress.com. The following is a continuation.
There is such a sense of sophistication in going to coat-and-tie events; you pick out your shiniest shoes and find your best tie.
You may even take the time to iron that crinkled up white shirt in the corner of your room.
When you arrive, there is an intellectual air in the way a person carries on a conversation about his job and the way that person gesticulates.
Even though a debonair atmosphere is presented, you still get stuck wearing the tacky blue and white sticker that says, “Hello, my name is.”
The style of the sticker is not relevant to the other people with whom you come into contact during the night.
It’s the information that you choose to put within the white rectangle of this sticker that seals the first impression.
Who are you?
Is race Identity?
After attending a seminar on “white privilege” and finding that I hadn’t felt the effects of white privilege in my life because the person in my mirror is essentially “white,” I was tossed into a room to discuss the genetics of race.
For this lecture, the people at the conference were separated by their own race. In my room of Latinos, my observations into my mirror started to take on a new meaning.
A girl from Cedarville stood up and shared her experiences being biracial.
On the outside, the girl looks black, yet one of her parents is Cuban. Since she looks black, she felt more included by her black peers instead of the Latino cliques at her college.
She was asked once to change her ethnicity on her identification card because she didn’t look Latino.
After she spoke, others followed, talking about growing up Bolivian, Puerto Rican and Mexican.
After discussing being Latino with the people in the room, the word “Latino” didn’t feel right.
Yes, our races shared a common language, yet our cultures were all different.
I began to feel that race was not a proper identification. Writing down “Latino” on a “Hello, my name is” sticker wouldn’t even scratch the surface of who I am and neither would writing down “Puerto Rican.” The traditions of my family are different from the traditions of other Puerto Rican families.
At a conference that emphasized race, I was learning that identifying yourself as your race is a fallacy. Isn’t everyone’s race similar yet unique?
Though I never considered the presence of white privilege in America before the conference, that didn’t mean that I looked at the world through a white looking glass.
Isn’t my identity in Jesus?
Romans 13:14 says to clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ.
When I look into a mirror, shouldn’t I be seeing Jesus and not race?
The Bible says that a day will come when everyone from every tongue will praise God. This image was the theme of the conference and is the point of identification.
When different people gather, they will be unified by their praise to Jesus Christ.
When that day comes, I won’t look at my brothers and sisters by race; I’ll be seeing Christ in them. They will all be wearing “Hello, my name is Jesus” stickers.