My Blackness had never felt as heavy as it did the day I realized my kids would be Black. To clarify, it’s not that I didn’t know, I just didn’t know. My race has always been a topic of debate. The term afro-latinidad was something that didn’t exist growing up. It took me years of learning, reflection, prayer, and therapy to fully embrace and love the color of my skin. I was bullied into hating it for so long that unlearning those negative ideas was a challenging feat. It was an awakening I wish I could have done two decades ago but completely life altering, nonetheless.
When I first realized I wanted to marry my boyfriend I would daydream about bringing my rustic bohemian outdoor wedding dreams to life. I thought about my dress, my ring, the venue, the food, and entertainment. I didn’t think much about the after. We had passing conversations about how many children we wanted, carrying on the family name out of respect for his family, and making sure we gave homage to my Latino roots. Our plans and timeline have changed quite a bit due to the pandemic and that left a lot of time for reflection on my part.
As the world around me collapsed and the Black community roared furiously at the countless injustices happening daily, I was forced to open up a space to really bring my emotions to light. What could I teach my child about being Black? Coming from a woman that was too ashamed to even say the words out loud, how dare I? Although my partner is a very understanding man, this heaviness was not equally borne. I felt so lonely.
I brought my concerns to my family, hoping that they would somehow console me. They’re usually my go-to for important discussions and concerns that I can’t handle myself and yet, they didn’t understand.
“It’s not our place as a church, Katherine.”
“Church and state can’t mix. This is a political problem.”
“The Seventh-day Adventist Church needs to be on the side of the law, and what they’re doing isn’t lawful.”
I felt nauseated. I felt nauseated at the fact that they didn’t get it.
“What’s it going to take?” I screamed.
“What’s it going to take for you to care, to get angry, to yell and scream for justice? How many more Black people have to die until it is the church’s place? Or your place for that matter? What if it was me?”
I was so confused. They knew oppression, they lived it and experienced it. Just a few days prior, at my dad’s job, a man called him a racial slur for not handing him a power cord quickly enough. It didn’t make sense.
I made it my mission to open their eyes. I made them watch videos and read articles about the statistics on police brutality and how racism has been bred in the bones of this country, as well as their own. I reminded them of our roots and our bloodline. The same bloodline that was washed away by the colonizers that tried to make our land their own.
I was surrounded by people that loved me, yet I felt so alone in my emotions. The institution that watched me grow up, that had a hand in raising me, didn’t understand me and their silence was deafening. Who is this Jesus we preach about? Who is this Jesus I was raised to confide in and honor? Because the Jesus I know would be flipping tables.
I didn't prepare for this part.
I didn’t prepare for what it would be like to have difficult conversations with my future children about why their skin might make them a target. I prepared to tell them the stories I grew up hearing from my own parents about Jesus the healer, Jesus the martyr and advocate. The truth is that this Jesus, my Jesus, has always been and will always be everything I have always imagined.
My Jesus weeps with the loved ones of the innocent Black lives lost in the streets, in grocery stores, in their homes. My Jesus hears my plea for a better world for all children. It is always his place, it is always his concern, it is never political, and it doesn’t take a lost life for him to step in.
Katherine Gonzalez is a 2nd year graduate student at La Sierra University. She is pursuing her M.A. in English. During her free time she enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her family.
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