The images of female friendships we often see in media would portray that women are out to get each other, that women hate each other passionately and passively, that women are competition for male attention.
What I have experienced cannot be further from the truth.
Female friendships are forces to be reckoned with, here’s why.
The dream launcher friend:
Every time I had an idea whether it was starting a blog, whether it was applying for a different job, or moving to a different city there was a female friend there to say do it! This is the friend that you can share your dreams with and nothing is too crazy, too far fetched, too out of reach that you cannot do with this friend by your side. When you succeed, they succeed and both of you are there for the losses and to celebrate the wins.
The partner in crime friend:
Because female friendships are ride or die, your friend that is riding along can convince you to do just about anything and vice versa. This has led to international adventures, road trips through Arizona deserts, late nights dancing, and stranger than fiction moments in my life. You’re not sure of where the journey leads but you cannot imagine better company.
The mirror friend:
There have also been times in my life where I was so caught up in a relationship, a toxic work environment, or other situation that I could not see it clearly for myself. These are the moments when you need a friend to hold up a mirror to your life and help you to make the situation right, whether it means walking away, letting go or simply slowing down. This friend can help us see the error of our ways, reaffirm our identity, and help us to stand in our truth. Without this mirror, our vision becomes myopic, we run the risk of going through life without the reflection we need to be our best selves.
The second mom:
Do not get it twisted. I love my mom! And yet, there are women in my life that have stepped in for me at work, in life and seen me fall and helped me to dust myself off, tell me its going to be ok and helped me hold my head up high. Without these women in my life, I would have taken failure to heart and lost faith in myself and my potential. We need intergenerational friendships to glean from their wisdom and see our lives from a different point of that has been there and done that, and come out on the other side triumphantly.
If this year has taught me anything is that we are wired for connection. May we continue to nurture our friendships and be good friends to others. Who did you think about when you read this post? Reach out, be available, and know it’s also never too late to make a new friend.
As the election neared I sat through sermons where from the pulpit it was preached, how to vote biblically. The translation of how to vote biblically meant voting republican. The arguments for this position centered around sanctity of life and around religious freedom.
In my mind’s eye voting biblically also meant consideration of the poor, the immigrant, the widow and the orphan as well as caring for the environment as God’s creation. I read a book a long time ago by Lisa Sharon Harper called Evangelical does not equal Republican or Democrat, the book centers around the rising conflation of the Christian faith with republican politics. But the title is what has stuck with me all these years.
In this time, if we relegate God to either political party, then our God is too small. We have put God in a box of our own making, making God fit into an agenda too short sighted for the kingdom of God.
The reality is that God’s kingdom is not a democracy, it is not a two party system, in fact most often it is described as a mustard seed or like yeast. God’s kingdom is about the lost finding a home, the dejected finding acceptance and even the most forgotten being loved.
I fear that in America, there is a seeking of power as a means of “returning the nation back to God”. This idea that if we just brought prayer back into schools, or that if abortion was outlawed then we would somehow be a Christian nation. We forget that even when Christians have been in power there was segregation and genocide and that Christianity has been used as a weapon of oppression.
As Christians it seems that there is a fear of losing power in an environment of secular humanism, that Christians in America will experience persecution.
I believe that Christianity was never about power in the first place, Jesus taught us a lot about what it meant to live under oppression, to challenge religious institutions, to cross lines of race and gender and to love each other in spite of a lack of power. It seems that the disciples and others in Jesus’ time had wanted him to rule an earthly empire. I wonder if disciples today are still chasing that earthly kingdom and using their vote to get there.
We are called to be healers, to make disciples to love the least of these, this is the kingdom we should be seeking, and allow God to handle the rest. After all the kingdom belongs to God, not to us, it is a kingdom not a democracy.
Recently there was an Executive Order that places on ban on diversity, equity and inclusion training in federal contracts that is based in critical race theory, the idea that racism is systemic and built into every major institution.
The order even begins with quotes from Martin Luther King, that we are to be judged by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin. While few would debate the goal of this statement and unfulfilled promise of America is that we are all equal under the eyes of the law regardless of our race. What has been debated over decades is how do we get there? There are many argue that by continuing to teach about race and racism, it is perpetuating the idea and giving it further perpetuity-essentially we should be color blind.
As a young person that was certainly what I have been taught. And in my day to day life I experienced how I was treated differently because of my race and how my peers were treated differently because of theirs. This caused me to be confused and experience the cognitive dissonance of a dialogue that ignores my reality.
In my first Human Diversity class in university, I learned the terms hegemony, racism, classism, xenophobia and the like and the world began to make sense. Since then I have been a part of diversity, equity and inclusion education of myself and others at every step of my career.
It is my firm belief that you cannot fix problems that you can’t name. And we cannot begin to address anti-Blackness , institutional racism without explicitly naming how institutions have been complicit and continue to perpetuate harm.
I remember being in South Africa and reading the book No Future without Forgiveness which is about the established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission after the fall of Apartheid. The commission’s purpose was to expose the crimes that had been committed during Apartheid and to offer an opportunity for dialogue about the harm that had been caused and reparations to be made. This taught me that there cannot be reconciliation without telling the truth and the truth is that America was founded in genocide and oppression. This truth is not determinate of the future but without acknowledgement there is no starting place to acknowledge the harm done and the reparations to be made in order to move forward.
To heal, we must be truthful. Own what has been the past and determine to do better as a nation and to treat people of color, immigrants, women and other historically oppressed groups with dignity and equity. Naming the problem with is the first step towards addressing it. Addressing it, acknowledging the pain, leads to empathy and empathy towards restoration.
To read the Executive Order click here: whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-combating-race-sex-stereotyping
I am a history nerd. I realize there is the history I learned as a kid; then that I relearned as an adult. As an adult I have learned how the United States was built on a foundation of structural racism; where various institutions government, education, even religion enforced and reinforced white supremacy.
When I think about key times in history- genocide of Native American, enslavement and chattel slavery of Black people, abolition of slavery, Japanese Internment, the civil rights movement. I ask myself where were Christians?
There were Christians that colonized Native Americans stripping them of land, culture and humanity. There were Christians that owned slaves. There were Christians that were active in the KKK and the enforcement of Jim Crow laws.
There were Christians that were in the abolitionist movement.
There were Japanese Christians that were interned and lost everything.
There were Black Christians that were bombed, hosed, and jailed fighting for civil rights.
Today, there are Christians who seek to excuse themselves from the dialogue of Black Lives Matter relegating it to a political issue. There are Christians who show up to Black Lives Matter protests singing worship songs and seeking to evangelize those participating.
There are Christians who spiritualize the issue of racism asserting that if we followed the principles of Christianity then racism would somehow cease.
Each of these is problematic and inadequate to the calling of being a Christian.
Christians are to bear one another’s burdens. When one part of the body of Christ is hurting, being murdered in broad daylight and grieving the rest of the body should stop what it is doing and respond in empathy and solidarity. Our divisions as Christians are wedged deeper when we distance ourselves from each other because it is inconvenient to our political leanings.
Evangelizing at protests and spiritualizing the issue of racism is problematic because it is laden with assumptions. There are assumptions that those that are protesting are “lost”. What if in fact many of the people protesting are believers in Christ and are spurred by their beliefs to seek justice and mercy for those being harmed. Protesting is not anti-Christian.
Spiritualizing the issue of racism is when Christians state that we need to “love each other more”, “pray more”, and “be one as the body of Christ” and that as an effect of those things racism will cease. These practices are good, but the reality is Christians in America have been doing these practices for hundreds of years and racism is still in our midst. These practices alone will not lead to the societal change that is needed without addressing white supremacy and how religion has been used to sustain it.
The good news is that there are also Black Christians both in history and now who are leading the way, engaging in dialogue and organizing. By their words and actions, there are Christians who are showing that a love of justice and mercy is the Jesus way.
An example of this is civil rights hero John Lewis who recently passed away. When asked about his experiences as a young man engaging in sit ins, he commented, "But I felt when we were sitting in at those lunch counter stools, or going on the Freedom Ride, or marching from Selma to Montgomery, there was a power and a force. God Almighty was there with us."
God is not neutral. God is on the side of the oppressed. God is near to the broken-hearted.
I hope that Christians can unite in solidarity and be allies. I hope that the church be a place for healing and not further harm. It is my faith that spurs me to compassion; to give until it hurts to not give up hope even when the situation seems hopeless., and to not be silent in the midst of injustice.
John Lewis: www.cnn.com/2020/07/17/politics/john-lewis-dead-at-80/index.html
Japanese Christian Internment: www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theatlantic.com/amp/article/508967/
Role of Faith in Civil Rights Movement; https://blog.oup.com/2017/02/civil-rights-movement-religion/
This week was a week of mourning.
The world is watching the community of Minneapolis respond to the unjust death of George Floyd. The footage circulating over and over, the image of a man lifeless on the ground. These images carry with them a certain kind of trauma. The trauma of a community who has seen these images over and over, hearing the statement of I can’t breathe and authorities completely callous. It was not too long ago when Philando Castille was also shot by police in his car in front of his girlfriend and with a young child in the backseat. Every Black person that has lost their lives at the hand of a law enforcement officer is someone’s son, brother, father, friend or neighbor. Their humanity was reduced to suspect, and it is that very dehumanization that must be stopped.
To grieve is to be human, there is no right way to grieve. Grief bubbles up in anger, depression, numbing, questioning. Grief coupled with injustice after injustice is unbearable culminating in what we now see as the open wound of racism in American society. This grief lies with every Black parent who gets the phone call of their worst nightmare. No one has a right to judge this grief, that has not bore the brunt of it.
And now more than ever it is a time for collective mourning, solidarity and action; this is our battle too. The only way to heal the wound is to be anti-racist. Many may look at Minneapolis and think it is war zone, but the story that is not being told is that of Latinos, Black and other communities standing together and denouncing injustice. We are our brother’s keeper. We cannot stay silent. We must do something if it will ever get better. Speak up in your sphere of influence. Click below to support anti-racist organizations and the George Floyd memorial fund.
I am convinced that in times of uncertainty our true colors come to bear.
Who we are at our core bubbles up to the surface, nationally, as a community and individually.
Nationally, essential service workers who are predominantly people of color continue to show up to work as farm workers, as restaurant workers, as grocery store employees, as shelter workers. Now more than ever, as a nation we need to reevaluate our priorities and ensure that workers that we consider essential to our nation are treated with dignity and respect. A living wage, health care, habitable housing, a path to legalization this is how we show essential workers that we truly value their contributions to our society.
In community, Latino led nonprofits are showing up for each other by providing groceries to seniors, providing masks to farmworkers, addressing income loss for undocumented workers. Learn more about these efforts and how to support them by clicking on links below. Latinos in SF are partnering with the University of California San Francisco to understand how COVID 19 is impacting the health and livelihood of those in the Mission. When we rally to show love instead of shrinking back in fear, we are building resilience in our communities to comes back stronger.
Individually, it can be all too easy to feel overwhelmed, to experience this time as forced isolation breeding anxiety particularly about the future. What it would it look like if we each took this time to reflect on what we matters to us, what is really most important to us and came out of this time with a renewed commitment to the people and dreams that drive us. Let us continue to do good and hope for better days ahead.
Love not Fear fund:
Mission District COVID19 Testing
Growing up in church the two weeks before Easter were easily the most busy of the year. There are rehearsals for Easter plays, musicians and singers gearing up for what is usually the most elaborate song sets. This is the time for visitors to come, or at least the people that only come to church on Christmas and Easter. And now here we are right before Easter in our homes, everything grinding to a halt.
I do not believe in coincidences and I do believe that all things happen for a reason, most of the time the reason is not known to us. With the unknown we can respond with anger, frustration, grieving or we can lean into the uncertain and discern what does that mean for us?
Personally, the thought of spending an undefined period of time alone in my apartment scared me. It is no secret that I experience depression and from time to time it is triggered by loneliness and anxiety.
What I have found during this time is opportunity, unprecedented space and time to sit with my own thoughts and reflect. I have discovered an opportunity to reconnect with God in ways I had not thought of before. Right before this started, I had ordered a copy of the book Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. In this book, Spiritual Disciplines like prayer, meditation, fasting and solitude are explained for the modern Christian.
What if, in this Lenten season where Christians around the world are giving up things in order to grow closer to God, we see this time of being at home as a time to give up busyness, to give up consumerism, to give up greed. The spiritual disciplines have a way of quieting the noise around us and amplifying what is within us, what consumes our thoughts, it exposes the parts of us that God desires to heal.
And what we have to gain is as important as what we are giving up. When we gain a deeper awareness of ourselves and our ability to pray for and bless others we gain generosity. Generosity in this time of panic looks like buying a pack of diapers for a neighbor, looks like checking in with people in the health care field and supporting them during this crucial time, we can donate to funds for workers who have lost wages.
Now is not a time to fear, but a time to love fearlessly because of the great love shown to us. Easter ultimately is about remembering the great sacrifice of Jesus dying from the cross and rising up again. May this be a time when Christians die to themselves and emerge more loving, more courageous and more generous than ever before.
In the wave of a pandemic many are feeling the impact of shortages of essential supplies, anxiety over how this virus will impact their own health or those of a loved one, or even worry over the present and future impact on the economy. Yet, there is a need to pause and reflect on how existing institutional racism, classism and other forms of oppression are exacerbated particularly on specific populations.
Every day in and day out my work focuses on those that are unsheltered which are majority people of color. When the virus first came into the conversation one of the facets that is easy to miss is that those with preexisting conditions such as lung, kidney or immunodeficiencies are more susceptible to the virus. And when people experiencing homelessness are sick, the vast majority lack a primary care physician with which to seek care from. Not to mention, when orders such as shelter in place are activated those that are unsheltered lack the basic means to comply and minimize their exposure.
Further, when the shelter in place order is enacted and enforced by law enforcement the underlying problem of racial profiling takes on a new dimension. Black and Brown men going to work at essential services and business, mothers taking their children to the local school for food are criminalized for normal activities to meet their basic needs and those of our society. Race also comes into play when those of Chinese descent are harassed or blamed for the coronavirus, this is rooted in xenophobia and racism.
Class comes into play when considering who in society can work from home and those that cannot. Working from home is a privilege mostly benefitting knowledge workers, with higher education. Those that are hourly and in many service industries such as hotel workers, retail employees, and others are suffering from the loss of income. Many working families who were already struggling to pay their bills are especially under the strain. And for those that are obligated to continue working such as farm workers there are little to no protections to prevent community spread while they work sun up to sundown to put food on our tables.
What can we do during this time to address these inequalities:
1) Check in with a local nonprofit, does your local shelter need toilet paper, milk, additional canned goods? I bet they do! Now is the time to donate if you can.
2) Support artists, single moms, small businesses and anyone else you know might be struggling by buying a pack of diapers or their merchandise from an online store.
3) Stay civically engaged. Hold leaders accountable for how shelter in place orders are enforced in your community. Fill out the census! All of the groups mentioned in this blog post are typically undercounted. Now is the time to count!
Why she is an inspiration
The Mission district is in her blood and in her heart. Christina is committed to providing pathways for youth to learn and grow in the fields of technology and computer science through her organization MissionBit. Students are connected to professionals in the field and can start to develop these skills right in their own school in their own neighborhood. Christina’s work is created in roads of inclusion for students that might otherwise be left out and she does it on her own terms. While others may feel pressure to conform to what what they think a CEO looks like she takes pride in who she is and shows up as herself in all she does.
Why she is an inspiration
Besides being my prima, just kidding we’re not related. Janeth is a powerhouse of a person. Not only is she a Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Bank of the West, she also volunteers at numerous groups included Latinos in Finance and Latino Community Foundation. Janeth is always on the move, motivating others and is always unapologetically herself. Not only does she have a seat at the table but she makes sure to pull up a chair for others to do the same.
Why she is an inspiration
Annie is a truth teller. Through her research, her talks, her papers she tells the truth about the realities that migrants are facing today. Annie can take any topic and dissect it with an intersectional lens even zombies. Seriously, she teaches a class about zombies and social inequalities at University of Utah. Her latest paper takes a brave approach at looking at how child welfare responds to child labor trafficking in California. Her work is provocative stirring up dialogue and shaking up how we operate.
She is complicated, only in the eyes of men is she reduced to an object.
Her emotions are anything but one dimensional, her thoughts have an unreachable depth.
Her beauty is unwittingly lack luster to her cunning. Her laugh can be heard a mile away.
She gave her heart to the limit the first time, the second and the third only letting it cost what she could afford. Bankruptcy is a harsh teacher.
Her mother’s wisdom falls heavy into her ears, creating a scratching feeling in her throat, fighting back tears as it sinks in to her belly. Only mothers can reach this place as it is harkening back to origin.
She gazes at her sister, brilliant and radiant they dance together and around each other.
Full of laughter and jubilee.
To others she is giddy, to others she is exuberant, only she knows her secret that the moon is full always, choosing when and how much of its shine to reveal.