Monday, February 2, 2009

Sometimes I feel like a Luddite. Months ago I began this blog with the intension of posting daily and contributing to a valuable dialog among Unitarian Universalists and other interested parties. Obviously that did not happen. A Facebook page was started for me and I have no idea what to do with it or what all the various requests mean. For months I have been struggling to make heads or tails of Second Life with the intent to found the Unitarian Universalist Church of La Raza. Instead of a virtual congregation that explores the synergy of Latino/Latina Liberation Theology and Unitarian Universalism all I have is an avatar in the shape of a large cosmic bunny and several suggestive messages that I am convinced would be anatomically impossible outside the virtual world of Second Life. So I will continue to struggle and attempt to post some worthy thoughts. And yes I know what a two-way is so please no more avatars dressed this way.

On a more serious subject I have come to understand that Latino communication and thoughts are heavily influenced by metaphors. This explains some of the communication misunderstandings. The dominant culture translates English words into Spanish but the metaphor may not produce the same understanding. When Unitarian Universalists speak of community they often mean individuals gathered together around a common interest. When a Latino/Latina speaks about “La Communidad” they refer to groups (families, tribes or other subset) united by either a common interest or situation. One metaphor is for individuals joining together, the other are groups gathering with other groups.

Junot Diaz, a Dominican-American writer, explains that being in the United States he knew more the history and culture of Star Trek than he did about the history and culture of the Dominican Republic. That comment made me realize that while I was familiar with much of the culture and history of Puerto Rico, I was more familiar with the subculture of those of us who grew up in New York City with parents born in Puerto Rico. I knew little about Dominan-Americans and less about many others from the various countries of South America, Central America, the Caribbean islands or Mexico. And combined I still knew more about Star Trek than all those countries and their people. In fact I can easily explain the problems of communication in metaphors by refereeing the reader to the Star Trek episode entitled “Darmok.”

And yet if I a Latino (Nuyorican) who speaks Spanish and interacts with other Latinos/Latinas admit that I am not fully capable of speaking for other Latino/Latina groups, how can those outside our cultures and metaphors truly understand all of us. American Reductionism tries to solve this problem by subsuming on group into another. Once we have this false sense of what is a Latino/Latina, American Reductionism further shrinks the individual by creating a false binary world where you are either “white” or you are something else. Speaking for myself, but believing others share my view I state that assimilation is an anathema (goggle: Borg.) I do not identify as a person of color, a Latino or even Hispanic. I am an individual who grew-up in New York City with parents born and raised in Puerto Rico. I am a Nuyorican Unitarian Universalist Minister

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