Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sometimes People Hate You Because of the Color of Your Skin

Our son playing percussion for his Brazillian Band leader.

Chris had just graduated with honors from microwave electronics school at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.  He had been hired at an electronics firm in San Jose, CA.  I wanted an apartment, which had a washer and dryer hook up, and also would allow kids, and animals.  We found a place in an all black apartment building in San Jose.  As we moved in, some of the people rolled their eyes and looked like they were thinking, “There goes the neighborhood.” Shortly after the move someone stole our four year old son’s tricycle, trashed it, and threw it in the dumpster.  Someone spit on our door.  Someone tried to break in to our apartment.  We borrowed a motion sensor burglar alarm but had to low crawl around the apartment because we kept setting it off.  After three months we decided to move to an all white apartment complex in Redwood City, thirty miles from San Jose. 

We had enjoyed attending San Jose Covenant Church but would have to leave that church, where several of the women had befriended me. Because of this move Chris would have to commute in our ancient Ford, our only car.  I would have to get a job to pay the rent on a more expensive apartment.  There was no washer and dryer hook up.  The apartment did not allow animals.  We left our dog and cat at my parent’s house several miles away.  They were out of town but my youngest brother was living there.  He kindly took care of our animals for us.  I walked to the nearest church and inquired about a job within walking distance of our apartment.  I was told that a church seventeen blocks away needed a secretary.  I walked to the second church and was hired.  Each day I walked our four year old to a babysitter and then walked to the church for the thirty-two hour a week job.  The salary was just enough to pay the rent. 

On Sundays, after services at Peninsula Covenant Church, I managed to put a chicken and some vegetables in a crock-pot for dinner, but during the week we ate TV dinners, as I was in too much pain, because of the flare up of my fibromyalgia, to do more.  Cooking and grocery shopping added more pain.  Any type of exercise caused a toxic build up of lactic acid in my muscles.   A chiropractor was recommended to me but he was not able to help me.  Finally, because I couldn’t sleep, my pain escalated. I told the Lord that I would have to quit my job, as I couldn’t stand the pain.  We had just paid the rent for one month and would have to move out at the end of the month. I made plans to live in our car.

Meanwhile, Chris, present at his air guard drill one week- end a month,  decided to teach the new recruits the electronics that they would need when they arrived at the same school he had just finished.  One of the other team chiefs was impressed with his ability to solve math problems.  (Chris had even found a mistake in a textbook they were using.) As a result of his efforts his fellow NOMCOM (non-commissioned officer) asked him for his resume to give to someone he knew at Hewlett Packard in Santa Rosa, CA.  In one month Chris was interviewed on the phone, (I also had a phone interview with his potential boss), we traveled to Santa Rosa where he was interviewed by multiple people, he was hired, and Hewlett Packard moved all of our 1000 lbs. of household goods to a house in Rohnert Park.  We once again had a washer and dryer hook up, and were able to have our kids, and animals with us.

I could continue on with our story and how God helped us, but all I wanted to say in this blog was that I experienced hatred because of the color of my skin.  But that hatred was only for three months.  I can't imagine that people could live with that hatred all of their lives.  We had a lovely Christian Liberian women who attended our church. When she first moved to the United States she lived in New Mexico.  When she went to church a woman said to her, "Why are you at this church?" She implied that this young lady wasn't welcome at their church.  I hope and pray that the people of the United States will love one another and especially that Christians will love one another. I will never hate anyone, by God’s grace, and especially not for the color of his or her skin!

I decided to add this comment made by a Pastor which was posted on Thabiti Anyabwile's blog.  I thought it was very good:

1.            C. Hernandez says:
August 20, 2014 at 10:17 amI have stayed out of the conversation being a young Hispanic male, but I see Thabiti as inserted brown skinned people into the discussion, so if I may say something being a brown skinned individual. First I do not dare to put myself in the place of African Americans in this country, the history speaks for itself, and I can not speak as if I feel what they feel when the thoughts of our countries history of injustice to their race comes to mind. But being a brown skinned individual raised in the inner city of Dallas, TX I know firsthand the effects of racial profiling. I myself have been put in handcuffs twice for mistaken identity. I have been pushed, cussed at, and followed home countless times. My dad told me stories of my grandfather not being able to go into diners to eat with his fellow “white” bowling team mates. He was made to eat outside the establishment for being Mexican, though he was born in the U.S.
As you can see I have plenty of reasons to be angry, cynical and suspicious of our criminal justice system, and for a large portion of my life I was. It wasn’t until 2 things happened in my life that I started to see things differently. First, the gospel, When I embraced the message of the cross and the gospel I saw the harsh reality of sin, what sin does to fallen individuals, and what fallen individuals are capable of. When I saw things through the lens of the gospel nothing surprised me not even the sin of racism. Second, education. As I began to educate myself and believe that with hard work I can go down a different path than most of my peers I started to get promoted into different social environments. As i began to meet other people, “white” people to be specific, I began to see that the perception I had towards them growing up in the inner city wasn’t all true. I met many who did care, who did love and who were willing to be friend those of other races. The question then became was I ready? Was I ready to reach out, was I ready to befriend other races? See, i grew up in a neighborhood 90 percent Hispanic and had no white friends growing up. I remember begging my dad not to send me to a mixed school, yes i loved my race that much. The problem in the way of racial harmony in my life had nothing to do with outsiders but with me. This young, angry, kid from the inner city had a lot to overcome.
So now I read blogs like these, and agree the evangelic community needs to be more involved, but my question is why now? Where was this passion before this incident at Ferguson? I pastor a small church in the inner city, and still deal with these realities every day. The problem I’m fighting is not the unfair criminal justice system, or “white privilege” as pastor Matt Chandler tweeted. The problem is fatherless homes, and confronting young men and women with the truth of the gospel. I deal with men coming out of jail, men that can’t get a job because of their criminal history. My advice to them is not “get down for the cause” or “yeah i know its unfair”. I let them know the realities of their consequences and exhort them to lead their homes and show their children a different way.
I see a lot of pastors tweeting and blogging about injustice, oppression, and so forth and see no help in that. If i was still that young angry kid, seeing that would embolden me with anger even more. It is much easier to tweet, blog, protest, be vocal, and even weep than come to these streets, give out school supplies, get your hands dirty, serve some hot dogs, lay hands, and pray with these young, men and women that are really hurting. Yes people are angry, yes people are hurting, but adding to the false narrative that the actions of few rogue, undisciplined, even racist police officers make the whole system unjust is absurd. The numbers don’t back up your claim. In fact, if you look at the statistics of interracial violence in this country your claim has no ground to stand on. Our brown and black brothers are not being killed and hurt by those on the outside, we are hurting each other from within. Where is the passion to come and confront this? Confront the dope dealers, confront the hustlers, confront the rappers that glorify violence, confront the fathers who abandon their children? These are the real enemies to our communities. I read that minority parents are scared of raising boys in an America that is unkind to them. I have 2 boys of my own, my fear is not an unkind America, my fear is them being recruited by a gang in the neighborhood, or taking the bait of easy money selling drugs. This is what I will fight, the enemy from within, I will fight it on my knees, I will fight it with devotion, and I will fight it by fathering.
I am no way saying to look the other way. I still deal with the occasional follow home by police, the extra attention in stores, and the dirty looks when I’m in a nice neighborhood. I can either choose to get angry, champion a cause, and vilify an entire race, or I can see the sin of racial profiling and racism for what it is, people of all walks are in desperate need of the gospel. That cop, that racist business man, that lost prevention security, we are all in the same boat. We are all infected by the disease of sin, and it can get ugly. My answer is not anger, its not championing a cause, my answer is prayer and action. Pray that God removes that heart of stone, that heart of racism, that heart of fear. Get active, get active with these kids, show them a better way, tell them the hard truths, be confrontational, become actively involved in my community and show them another way, the way of the cross.
I love the passion, I love the willingness to act, and the calling on all to get involved. The problem in your narrative is calling people to get involved in the wrong thing.


  1. Great story. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for reading and for commenting!

  3. What a great story! I never knew these things about you. Well, some of it, yes, but not the guts of this story! Thank you!

  4. I read that hate is natural. It is love that is supernatural. (Agape love)