Jonny Leano: Addressing Identity in a Centered-Set Church

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"Hawaii is a racially diverse place. Former Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle says that Hawaii is a place where the “racial and ethnic lines are often blurred or deemed irrelevant.” In other words, Hawaii focuses on racial diversity at the center. And racial diversity in Hawaii is a great source of pride that distinguishes us from the mainland.

"But for me, Hawaii was not a racially diverse paradise. I am part of a growing population of immigrant Filipinos in Hawaii, and as of 2010, Filipinos surpassed Japanese to become the second-largest racial group in Hawaii, just behind Caucasians.

"Yet I still felt racism and xenophobia growing up. I was teased for being Filipino. I also witnessed how neighborhoods were segregated based on race and class. And this was confusing. I thought that fellow Hawaiians celebrated our different racial identities… but sometimes I felt that Filipinos were the exception…"

This week, Jonny Leano shared with us his experiences growing up as a Filipino citizen in Hawai’i--and later participating in predominantly white churches in America. Listen in (or read his notes) for more on how we can become a spiritual community that allows people to live out their full identities and share their unequal experiences of race and class—yet still maintain a focus on Jesus as the one who brings us together.