Met up with Danny Yang today on my lunch break. Don’t worry if you don’t know him yet, you will.
I am a Christian. A follower of Jesus Christ. A guy trying to find out who I am and what God made me to do, so I can go out and do it.
This is not easy for me, because I have a quadruple consciousness.
By quadruple consciousness, I mean I have inside of me four perspectives that influence the way I live my life. Here’s how they break down.
W.E.B. DuBois wrote in the early part of this century about the “double consciousness” experienced by African-Americans in the U.S. As fellow Americans, they are “insiders” in our society. Yet they are also “outsiders” because of their skin color and racism.
This “double-consciousness” is true also for Latinos. But for U.S.-born Latinos like me, there is an added twist.
Dr. Eldin Villafañe, associate dean of urban and multicultural affairs at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston, says that while we are insiders/outsiders in relation to mainstream society, we are also insiders/outsiders in relation to first generation Hispanics.
Though we are bilingual and bicultural, we are not totally accepted by our mostly monocultural, Spanish-language-dominant parents and authority figures. They perceive us as different–too norteamericano in behavior and Spanish-speaking ability.
As a result of these insider/outsider dynamics with the White mainstream and with first generation Hispanics, a third consciousness arises.
We who find primary identity with neither the mainstream nor with the mother country find it most readily in each other.
In the Southwest, this is known as “Mexican-American” or “Chicano” identity. In Texas, these terms are joined by “Tejano.” In the northeast among Puerto Ricans, it’s “Boriqua” or “Nuyorican.” In Florida among Cubans, it’s “Cuban-American.” And across the nation, this third consciousness binds people of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Latin American descent into “Latinos” or “Hispanics,” turning a U.S. census fiction into reality.
But for a second generation Latino trying to follow Jesus, add a fourth consciousness: an American Evangelical consciousness.
What does this all mean? It means confusion for a Christian young man trying to find his way. When these voices say different things, which should I follow? Shall I choose one perspective against all the others, or is it possible to integrate them?
Answering that question is the greatest accomplishment of my life.