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Diversity

I attended a misa catolica tonight--a Spanish-language mass.

It was the anniversary of Jorge's mother's death. His grandmother usually has a deacon from the church come to her home to pray the rosary on the anniversary of her daughter's death, and I've joined them for that twice before. (After the first time I tried really hard to learn the Our Father and Hail Mary prayers in Spanish but they still went too fast for me!)This year, they had a memorial mass in the church.

If you've ever met me, you know that I couldn't possibly stink out more in a Spanish-language mass... or a Spanish-language anything. People turned to look as I walked to a pew because I am clearly not the target demographic.

I will always, always be grateful for my experience teaching in East Oakland because of how comfortable I am in neighborhoods where many people are afraid, as well as being totally comfortable being the only white person in a room.

I will also always be grateful for both my teaching experience and my time at the Mexican orphanage I visit because I'm also totally comfortable being the only person in a room who doesn't speak Spanish as a first language.

This wasn't always true, of course. I'm not a sociologist, but my unprofessional opinion is that humans are "tribal" in that we gravitate toward people who look, sound, and act like us. That may be natural, but I don't think it's best. There is so much richness in diversity and I'm glad that I was pushed so, so far out of my comfort zone because my comfort zone is now exponentially bigger.

It's an honor to be included in other communities' celebrations and sorrows. It can also be exhausting, and I often don't feel worthy of it. But it is an incredible honor.

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