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Repentance, Racial Healing & Reconciliation, Radical Love

One Tribe is a weekly forum dedicated to open discussion of racial healing. It appears each Monday.  Contributors represent many walks of life, but have in common these foundational beliefs: (1) racism is sin; (2) only the power of Christ through the Holy Spirit can break racism’s grip and heal people and relationships; and (3) as Christians, racial healing and reconciliation are part of God’s call upon our lives.  The good news of the gospel is that all are one in Christ (Gal 3:28). May it be so!

All who hold to the above defined beliefs about racism are invited to write for One Tribe.  Please email Angie at revmabrynauta@gmail.com to express interest in contributing and for additional information.

Viva, San Antonio! An Ode to the River City

by Angie Mabry-Nauta

My girls and I were in San Antonio, TX all last week for vacation.  I love that city — not only because I grew up in and around it, but because of how it feels to me.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice the decidedly Spanish and Mexican influence, as well as San Antonio’s deep religious (Catholic) roots.  The culture and religion envelop me like a warm, comfy blanket when I return there. Welcome home, child, they say to me.  You’ll always have a place here.

What little Spanish I speak burgeoned from being raised in this area.  Learning a minimal working vocabulary was necessary to communicate with my caregivers, each of whom were wonderful Hispanic women.  I had to know that when they said “Gringita” (little white girl) that they were speaking to or about me.

Hispanic hospitality in San Antonio is like none other. The city’s love of good, spicy food, tangy margaritas, traditional mariachi music, modern Tejano music, and a fiesta anytime, anywhere combine to usher a warm bienvenidos (welcome) to all who come, visitor and resident alike.

Spanish, naturally (considering Texas’ history) is prevalent.  The language and the US and Texas flags seem to fly side-by-side, as billboards advertise bilingually, or in Tex-Mex, more accurately.  An attentive ear will hear additional languages, especially while walking downtown amongst the tourists.  For me it’s a vibrant linguistic tapestry — many threads woven together to create a masterpiece as rich as Texas itself.

This is my city, and I am its daughter, I think every time I visit.

Boots at North Star Mall (photo credit: San Antonio Vacation Experience)

I’m comfortable drifting wherever I desire in this city.  Whether I am at what used to be a dive Mexican restaurant called the Blanco Cafe that boasted the best enchiladas in San Antonio (I remember this being true.); getting gas on the “bad” side of town (supposedly the southeast side); frolicking at North Star Mall; or grocery shopping in Alamo Heights at H.E.B.’s Central Market (an upscale grocery store monikered “Gucci B” by locals), I feel at home.

That got me thinking during this most recent trip.  I began to wonder why this is.

In this city where folk of Hispanic descent are the majority of the population (63% according to the 2010 US census), and people who look like me are the minority why am I this comfortable?  Is it who I am, who God made me to be? Is it because God has opened my eyes to racism, white privilege, and majority entitlement to the point that I no longer live with a colonialist chip on my shoulder? Is it because I grew up there, still consider San Antonio to be my “mother” city, and love her, warts and all?  Is it because I speak enough Spanish to get by, have fun ordering my most fav food of all (Mexican food), and make new friends?

Or is it because, even though brown-skinned peeps are the majority, white privilege still reigns because of education, money, power, opportunity, and the good ‘ol dominant culture that just…won’t…loosen…its…grip for everyone else to participate equally in life?

I honestly wonder if a Hispanic woman who has everything in common with me, except for skin color and accent, would feel as free to go wherever she wants to within San Antonio.  What happens to her when she walks into El Mercado?  Do the vendors scurry her way as they do mine?

San Fernando Cathedral (photo credit: sfcathedral.org)

What happens when she walks into Saks Fifth Avenue (not that I spend a measurable amount of time there)?  Are the sales people as friendly as they are to me?  What happens when she walks into a Spanish mass at San Fernando Cathedral as a first time visitor?  Do the greeters/ushers assume that she speaks Spanish? Or do they greet her in English, wait to see how she responds, and then go from there?

I honestly don’t know the answer to these questions.  I never will.  I believe, though, that they are worth asking, and that having eyes opened to racial and cultural dynamics is a blessing and not a curse.  Even in places like San Antonio where “minorities” are in the majority, injustice and prejudice against them remain.

My prayer is that one day everyone will feel comfortable being everywhere, no matter the person or place.  Until then…viva San Antonio y sus hijos y hijas!