Many may not realize that Puerto Ricans are more than bronzed people that live by the beach. I certainly was not one of them. I see the reactions when African American men come up to talk to me as if I’m a brother from the hood. Nevertheless, the second I open up my mouth and allow my grammatical errors and heavy accent to shine, I see a look of profound surprise as the “brother” realizes that I’m “Mexican”.
Even Mexicans, when I approach them speaking Spanish, show a hint of fear and utter confusion. So for those who don’t know, there are black Puerto Ricans, white Puerto Ricans, Chinese looking Puerto Ricans, Tanned Puerto Ricans, etc. We are like the United States, just with a different language. And so, now I can continue.
21 years ago, as I moved from Puerto Rico to Jacksonville, Florida; these damaging and hurtful words were directed at me; “You will never make it in life because you have a double curse; you are black and you are Latino.” Yes, even in Puerto Rico, where all of us are as much “mutt” as the other, the whites found themselves superior to the darker in complexion.
I was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in a place called the barrio Arenas de Guánica in Puerto Rico. This was home for me. And for some people, home can be the hardest place to be accepted.
During my first years in elementary school, I suffered at the hands of bullies who called me all kinds of derogatory names, just because of my dark skin.
As a child, I remember watching a TV program dedicated to racism in Puerto Rico. A black famous Puerto Rican musician was part of the panel who was known for only dating white skinned women. When they asked him why, he stated that he felt that he needed to “improve his race.” He was a black Puerto Rican man. Improve his race? For years I lived contemplating that there was something wrong with me. As if this dark carcass was a cursed disease given from my ancestors.
An old Puertorican man told me when I was in my twenties, “you are black outside, but you are white inside.” In other words, there was no possibility that as a black man I could be identified with anything good. Let me emphasize, this did not happen in the USA, but in Puerto Rico.
Furthermore, as I was studying martial arts, living in Jacksonville, Florida; I remember being told not to go upstairs in a house party while the rest of the students did. They were all white. They did not want the grandparents of the owner of the house to see me; they were very racist I was told.
All my life I heard the jokes referring to black people and to myself directly. A value system was clearly created to make me think that I was inferior or that there was something wrong with me, just because I was black.
I say these things because I want you to know that I lived on this earth and that I have tasted racism myself. No doubt that I have never been a slave or have ever been physically persecuted. Nevertheless, my first reaction to all this was to embrace the victim mentality; to blame it all on the white man and to embrace the entitlement mindset of taking all I could take; after all, they owe me. My great great grandmother was a slave, so I suppose I am entitled to eternal compensation; right?
When I became a Christian, I discovered that I could do all things through Christ. (Philippians 4:13) I am now 46. The good I have done in my life, I did it by the grace of God. On the other hand, I have fallen short in many areas, not because of the white man, but as a direct result of my actions. I take full responsibility.
So now I move on to the gist of this message. I absolutely hate it when people look at me and assume that I am lazy or an idiot that needs special treatment or programs in order to be able to make it in this life! I hate it how even in the church, my home on this planet, people cannot see past their bitterness of the past.
This is not a question of whether or not racism exists. It was the second mayor issue in the primitive church. Paul confronted Peter with this issue in Acts. Yes, racism exists, it is a spirit; an evil spirit, and it will always exist. Am I denying slavery? Never! Just like we will never deny the holocaust. These are, without a doubt, examples of humanity at its worst.
The true question is where do we go now? As a Christian, it is important for us to move on and let go of the past. We cannot deny that the majority of minorities on this planet are at a stalemate. We are stuck, and the only ones we can blame are the “white” men. But my Bible says “Do not pay evil with evil.” (Romans 12:7) As Christians we are called to forgive. (Colossians 3:13) Not forgiving the white man for what they did to our ancestors, or even to us, is a sin and is the source of the minority’s current struggle.
We must follow the example of black men and women who bettered them and their families, and not the losers that are making a living out of keeping the issues of racism alive. We must learn about Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King and even Malcolm X. They, among others, did not fight for handouts; they insisted that we could do things as good and sometimes better than the white man.
Frederick Douglass, a former slave, in the times before the civil war, found his freedom and respect as he educated himself and became one of the great speakers in our history. Martin Luther King achieved a doctoral degree; another amazing speaker and someone who advanced the civil rights movement like no other. Malcolm X, even as we share a different faith, was not asking for anything from the white man; the nation of Islam wanted their own black nation, independent from whites. These men did not ask for any special treatment; they fought for us to have the opportunity, just like everyone else.
But what is happening today? We are filled with bitterness against the whites. We are so focused on finding racism in every statement that a white man makes, that we can’t move forward with vision and mission for our lives. We are so blind by the liberal ideology. We continue to fail in understanding that we can be self-reliant.
We don’t need any programs. We are not idiots unable to make it without government assistance. We are celebrating dependency; we are fighting to get free healthcare, free housing, free food and so on. We fight under the umbrella that the white man owes me. Depending on these programs can only take you so far. Judging by our statistics, that dependency is literally killing us.
Beloved, the only thing white people owe us is the opportunity; the opportunity to worship God freely, the opportunity to be politically and socially free just like everybody else, the opportunity of being treated like a human being with the same rights as everyone else, the opportunity to interview for any job and for our qualifications to be looked at fairly, the opportunity for education and higher education, the opportunity to prove that we can square off as a boxer, baseball prayer, basketball player and any sport on this earth with the best-of-best in the world.
No, we don’t want you to lower the standards so that my sons and daughters will be able to get that job or enter that school. That is an insult to me! I want you to give them a fair chance to prove to you that it will do you well to hire them because, just like the story of Joseph in the Bible, they will be a blessing to your business. Whether you have racism in your heart or not, I really don’t care, that’s between you and God; all I want is the opportunity.
The United States of America has a shameful past filled with plenty of hypocrisy and contradictions just like you and me. We are not exceptional. My Bible tells me in Romans 2:11, “For there is no respect of persons with God.” (KJV) If we judge the opportunities that we as minorities have today, in comparison with just 50 years ago, we will conclude very quickly that our slave song must change. The old song of seeing ourselves as victims is ludicrous and it feeds bitterness. That song is getting old; as a matter fact, it’s old already.
Whatever white people did to us, our current racism and discriminations, and even the idiots that want to act like this nation is perfect; nothing justifies us, as minorities, to act like fools. Again, racism is a spirit, it existed, it does exist and it will exist until the Lord’s return.
Today we have blacks that are successful in higher learning. We have doctors (My wife is one of them), we have lawyers, judges, we have businessmen, politicians, we have actors, athletes, we have CEOs and, we have our current president. But apparently it is not enough.
Agitators like Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson and many civil rights organizations are getting paid good money by reporting discrimination and closing their eyes to progress and personal responsibility. Can’t we understand? Not only have we learned how to fish, but also now we are able to own the lake.
If we judge America based on how she has opened up and leveled the ground for opportunities for us, I have to say, “Mission accomplished”. If you are waiting for America to be racist-free, it will never happen: not here and not around the world. Nevertheless, in spite of all that, you and I have no excuse. You need to make up your mind to either go after opportunities or to feed your bitterness.
So I say, White folks, you owe me nothing, you don’t even have to like me! You don’t have to “act black”. You are free to be whatever you want. I forgive you and your ancestors and embrace you all as my brothers and my sisters. I have something to offer to make this nation a better place for you, for your children, for me, for my children and for generations to come. If you are a born again believer, I hope you understand, that we are now citizens from heaven. (Philippians 3:20) Lets show the world our love for one another so they know that God is real. And let us remember that we are to owe one another nothing but love.
“Owe no man anything, but to love one another, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law..” (John 13:35) NKJV
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