In the book We Stand Together, Jesse Miranda provides a Hispanic voice to the racial reconciliation conversation. Many of his points have been shared by several of our previous Hispanic guests, but some points are worth highlighting in this reflective summary because they are quite important concerning the Hispanic community, but also because of the parallels which I believe are common in the African American community (which is our focused people group for next week’s discussion).
Miranda writes, “The Hispano carries in him the typical personality traits of oppressed people who have internalized the images and notions of an oppressor…[therefore characteristics of the Hispanic personality are the same as] the common rules of other men of color: (1) Do not trust, (2) Do not feel, (3) Do not talk. These are the dangerous effects of a history of colonialism and annexation on the character of the Hispano (Cooper, Moody, 1995, 102).”
Every featured Hispanic voice noted the diversity among Hispanic Americans. Pastor Daniel even jokingly stated, “The only thing we have in common is our shared language.” This is so important for each of us to remember when trying to better understand and develop relationships with Hispanic Americans. We cannot generalize or make broad assumptions about an entire people group based on a narrow presentation of a select few.
There is one thing that each guest shared as paramount importance to the Hispanic community—family. Pastor Daniel shared that is nearly impossible for Americans who have been raised in an individualistic society to understand the significance of the family in Hispanic communities. “Hispanos think and act as a family unit. The family is the main unit in the Hispano’s community, superseding church, political parties, or any other group…This value is so deep in the Hispanic culture that a Hispanic child is taught to take care of his brothers and sisters even to the point of missing school…familial esteem has historically been more crucial than self-esteem…The Hispano thinks of his worth and identity in terms of his family membership and relationship (104).”
Go and be Reconciled
Concerning racial reconciliation, Miranda provides the following recommendations:
What Hispanics can do?
1. Know and speak the English language
2. Respect the values of the prevailing culture
3. Forgive past injustices and find a new meaning. He writes, “We are like Jews. We do not want the world to forget what we have suffered. We remember the conquests (by Spain and the Manifest Destiny) and the injuries, review the violations, and ruminate on the hurts. For the most part, we view the white population’s westward expansion as an act of aggression against the native peoples.” (pages 106-107)
How Non-Hispanics Can Help?
1. Be Bible-centered
2. Be culturally prepared
3. Be culturally sensitive
4. Avoid stereotyping the Hispano
5. Seek Personal Reconciliation with Hispanic [people]
“A strong relationship between a Hispanic and non-Hispanic will be personal and express a mutual love in ways that are appropriate to the culture. When we do this, we will rid ourselves of the “us versus them” mentality.” (pages 108-109)
Hispanic Influencers to Watch:
Eldin Villfane, Ph.D., Professor of Christian Social Ethnics at Gordon-Conwell and Hispanic American Theologian
Paco Amador, Hispanic Pastor (represented the United States delegation at Lausanne 2010)
I know there are many others (which I would like for you to include in the comment section), but these are the people who were brought to my attention this week.
Has this mini-series changed your perception or understanding of Hispanic Americans? What was most beneficial for your learning and relationships?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2012