Sunday, November 04, 2007

Becoming a Minority....Again

A Latino client recently told Tammy that she spent part of her weekend at Olvera Street, and Tammy innocently said, "where is that?"

Well a few weeks ago we went to Olvera street downtown right off the 101, a piece of LA history and culture that is an attractive touristy introduction to the pervasive Latino heritage (read: Mexican) we have in our city. The open air market is probably the main spot for local tourists like ourselves, although the prayer grotto at the Catholic church across the street seemed to me to capture a living snapshot of existing religious reality for many Latinos...

I think I counted a handful of other Asians besides myself in the marketplace. I mention this because ever since I've moved to California, I've reveled in the ethnic diversity and the fact that people don't give me the same looks that always bothered me growing up in the East Coast very much a minority.

But as I reflect on my immersion into the Chinese church and Asian American subculture here in LA, it was really a time for me to feel "safe" in the majority, to find confidence and connection to something I didn't have back East. And now that I've been reflecting more on the Kingdom and incarnational ministry in an urban setting, I realized that if the church is to have "community impact," it can not remain in a cultural ghetto. For me, this has been expressed in connecting with the East LA Intervarsity fellowship, which no surprise is mostly Latino. It's meant I've had to ask the basic questions to the students and leaders there about food, customs, etc. It's meant that I have to become comfortable in becoming a minority...again! But whereas back East I had no choice, this one is a choice based on a conviction about what God wants to see more of in LA: a church that visibly reflects the diversity of all peoples and nations--and socio-economic levels!


Jules said...

I guess we're somewhat spoiled here, because I don't know what it's completely like growing up being a minority. Though I've had experiences of being a minority, just not as much you did where you were much less common. I think I experienced it the most when I'm around the entertainment industry. Hey I work near the Macy's Plaza. So if you're ever by there in downtown, give me a call. Maybe we can have lunch or something.

Victor said...

That is truly a sign of maturity -- going back into being a minority, by choice this time.
On a side note, Olvera Street has the best street vendors for taquitos and guacamole. (Of course, now I can't have the guacamole anymore.)

EUNICE said...

Hey Jesse... thanks for sharing. It's nice to know what you're up to. Boy, I miss good Mexican food!