NOTE: This homily was delivered on Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023 at First Unitarian Universalist Church, San Antonio, Tx by Lito Bujanda-Moore.
“Home Improvement”My name is Lito Bujanda-Moore. I, and my wonderful wife Ruth, have been members of First UU San Antonio since 2010. Currently, I serve on the Committee on Shared Ministry. Last November, I attended a 3 day, anti-racism workshop with several members of our congregation. There was so much to discuss and process… but let’s see what I can squeeze into around 8 minutes, shall we? One of the things we explored was how we’ve been socialized since birth; in particular, when did we first realize we had a racial identity? I’ve been aware for some time that I’m a beneficiary of white privilege, but hadn’t really considered to what extent. I’ve never been food insecure. I never worried that I wouldn’t attend college. Every children’s book, comic book, TV show and movie I saw… had heroes, villains, and supporting characters that looked just like me. The history of my ancestors was required curriculum in every school I attended, instead of being relegated to college electives. I’ve never had my resume passed over due solely on the spelling of my name. The most anxiety I’ve ever felt during a traffic stop was how much of a fine I might have to pay. And I’ve never been without a roof over my head, including the home I currently own. I’m going to discuss that home again in a bit. I had been oblivious for most of my life to the struggles suffered by people who don’t share my skin color, given gender, sexual orientation, nationality, or ability; all qualities I gained solely through the accident of birth. I had never thought of my ignorance as a product of racism, since I wasn’t actively denying rights or privileges to others. But, the fact remains that I benefit from a society that skews favor towards those innate traits– a society that reinforces beliefs that white people are inherently superior to other racial groups. THAT is white supremacy; a society that has woven threads of disparity and inequity throughout many laws, policies, practices, and traditions. Consider this, the Confederate States lasted only 4 years… hell, MYSPACE lasted longer than that! Barack Obama’s presidency was TWICE as long, yet after 150 years, there are STILL people who salute that battle flag to racism… and call it their “heritage.” During the anti-racism workshop, I started feeling overwhelmed. How do I unravel those threads? How do I tackle almost 400 years of white supremacy in my country, my state, my community? The magnitude of this daunting task felt a little familiar… on a much, MUCH smaller scale. You see, my home needs some renovations. The wiring is a fire hazard, the plumbing is unsafe, the insulation is disintegrated, the foundation has shifted and some walls have stress cracks. As originally designed, it’s insufficient for today’s needs, much less future needs. The hallway, bathrooms, and all the doors are far too small for any mobility assistance we may someday require. And before any work can begin, I would need to clear out years of stuff. It’s clear, there’s a LOT of work required to make our home safer, more comfortable, and more welcoming to all. While I am privileged to be a homeowner, I DON’T have the resources to just abandon it and move to a bigger, better, or newer place… perhaps somewhere with universal healthcare would be nice, say… Finland? So, how do we stay in our home, while replacing critical utilities? It’s going to get really messy, uncomfortable, and expensive. There may be things we’re deeply attached to that need to be discarded. There will certainly be changes that won’t benefit us immediately, but are still required for the greater community. At this point, if you find yourself thinking, “oh! I should tell Lito about that electrician he should call… or NOT to call!” or “I hope they’re considering installing solar panels.” Then tap into that… THAT’S some of the experience, imagination, and energy we ALL need when thinking about how to renovate white supremacy OUT of our wiring, our plumbing, and our very foundations. Some of the same actions are required in renovate both these literal and metaphorical homes:
- Understand what needs to change through discussion with experts while considering the history and needs of those who don’t share your own.
- Identify specific things to address and tackle them individually.
- Take the courage to be uncomfortable for a while. There’s going to be a lot of noise, dust, and things we might not want to hear or know.
- Get some help! This isn’t work we can do on our own.
- It ALWAYS takes longer and costs more than expected.
Now, is all this work even WORTH it? Absolutely! We LOVE our home and we love the people we share it with. Love and empathy provide both the courage to face the suffering in our community of communities… our home, and the energy to ACT for its healing. Thank you.
Keith Giles is the best-selling author of the Jesus Un series. He has appeared on CNN, USA Today, BuzzFeed, and John Fugelsang’s “Tell Me Everything.” His latest book, SOLA MYSTERIUM: Celebrating the Beautiful Uncertainty of Everything is available now on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.