I have been a part of several churches: from mini to mega, from California to Connecticut, meeting everywhere from synagogue to warehouse. But I’ve never been part of an ethnic-specific church.
This can probably be attributed to the general lack of Chinese Mexican churches in the world. Either way, I’ve always spent my Sundays in multiethnic church services filled with color and converging heritage. Growing up, I would think of myself as a code-switcher, perpetually adjusting myself to every new person and environment. I had never known what it felt like to walk into a room and think, “these are my people” with a sigh of relief. But I always imagined that such a feeling was possible.
So I thought that when I went to an affinity group for multiracial students, I might walk into the room and experience a sense of overwhelming, comforting sameness — no code-switching required. But as I stepped into a conference room filled with dozens of mixed-race faces lit up by fluorescent chandeliers, I didn’t experience that wave of resounding affinity. Instead, I came to a slow and uneasy realization. We were all mixed-race, but in different permutations. We weren’t really the same — we just shared the same difference.
The word “different” includes the Latin root fer, to bear or to carry. I used to view difference as a potluck, one where everyone had to bring something unique to the table. The problem with the potluck, though, is that it becomes exhausting. I was always scrambling to bring something good to the table, always trying to produce, always trying to make my differences useful. In the potluck model, my differences became burdens to bear. What if instead, I opened myself to sharing stories, with all their similarities and differences to the stories of others, simply for the sake of sharing?
In this issue, we have stories of similarity and difference, and the ways that they complicate and complement each other. When we write about our differences, we explore our own particularity, but when we share them, we discover the universal.
This issue invites you to accept the invitation into stories of overlapping resonance and dissonance, into all the ways we share our differences. Once you enter, maybe you’ll decide to share yours, too.