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Our Conexión ep 4: Intersection of Race, Faith and the Election pt. 2



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In this episode, we examine how the intersection of race, faith and the elections manifest in our experiences following Election Day. Joining us is Bishop LaTrelle Easterling from the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference.

En este episodio, reflexionamos en cómo la intersección de la raza, la fe y las elecciones se manifiestan en nuestras experiencias después del día de las elecciones. Nos acompaña la obispa LaTrelle Easterling de la Conferencia Anual de Baltimore-Washington. La transcripción en español se publicará tan pronto como esté disponible. 



Intro by Aileen: Buenas familia! You’re listening to Our Conexión, the podcast where we talk about the realities of our ethnic communities and what that means for the church’s response. This is our fourth episode, where we tackle race, faith, the elections and how they all intersect to manifest in our experiences. I’m your cohost, Aileen and joining me today is Paul and one of our united Methodist church leaders. We were able to pull Bishop LaTrelle Easterling from her Council of Bishops meeting to take a pulse after election day together. So let’s get started.

Paul: Alright. Well, thank you so much Bishop for taking the time out of your day. As Aileen said, you are in the middle of a Council of Bishops meeting and you’ve carved out just a short amount of time and we can’t thank you enough for your presence and your wisdom and your grace to come on such a difficult and trying day and turning point in all of our lives. Today at recording, its 3:06 p.m. eastern time, the day after the general election of 2020. We don’t know what’s going on, it's all over the place –as you can imagine. But for those of you listening this is probably going to be a couple days after. We might know what happened. We may not. But we’re right now in this kairos moment where we find ourselves wondering how do we react to what we’ve seen. What do we do with what we have seen over the last week, last night, the last year, the last four years. So, Bishop. Can I ask you to maybe offer an introduction and tell us a little bit about who you are and where are you this afternoon?

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling: So, I’m trying to think if you are asking me for a physical “where are you?” a metaphysical, “where are you?” because [laughs] “where are you?” is a great question for all of us right now. But first of all, Paul and Aileen let me say thank you for the invitation and thank you for the opportunity to be in conversation with you. I really do consider it an honor to do so. I’m LaTrelle Miller Easterling, Resident Bishop of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. I have been able to be a servant leader here since 2016, when I was elected. Came out of the New England Conference where I was a district superintendent and a pastor. Before that, my other life, I was a prosecutor – I’m a lawyer- and I was in Human Resources. So I bring all of that with me, as I say nothing's lost in the economy of God. Right? So, we bring all of ourselves to do what we do. Where am I today? So, I'm – again, because of the pandemic – working from home. All of us sitting in this liminal space of waiting for when are we going to come out of these COVID caves. When are we going to be able to resume some rational rhythm of life. When are we not going to be living in the fear of contracting a disease because we said hello to someone. For the last four years we've been living with an increasing level of incivility in this country still wondering when we're going to come out of this oppression and racism rubric that we're in. When are we going to be able to once again, privilege, lives and one another’s dignity over, you know, capitalism. And those kinds  of concerns. So, waiting on that and now. Well, as a denomination waiting on. When are we going to be able to have general and jurisdictional conference? So, were in that liminal space. And now, in the United States of America, we have more liminality, right? Because we don't know the outcome of our general election. So, I tell you what. God is really teaching us all patience. I don't know who prayed for it. They said be careful what you ask for. Whoever it is, stop. Stop praying for patience because that is so being required right now. So, here we sit. Waiting to see if our country is going to go in a new direction or if we are going to continue in the space that we've been in. And I don't say that as a Democrat or a Republican. I say that as a citizen of the United States of America. I am deeply concerned for our country. I'm deeply concerned that we can't even have dignified conversations with each other anymore without being concerned if it’s going to explode. In the ways that that people are just being so abrasive and violent with one another. So yeah. Sitting here, waiting and praying that we’ll remember who we are.

Aileen: You mentioned that we are just not able to have dignified conversations with one another. We’re not able to love one another enough to listen to each other and that's clearly affecting us – our relationships personally, professionally, as a community in general. Why do you think that is? Why do you think that we are at a point in time where we feel like it's okay to just openly and boldly remind people that, you know, maybe that we're better than them, maybe that we’re more worthy than them. What do you think is happening that is allowing people to feel that they can just say whatever they want without caring about other people and their lives and their feelings and all the things that make a person who they are?

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling: That’s a great question, Aileen. So many people want to blame it on the current administration. I don’t accept that. You can't make me be somebody I'm not. Right? I don’t care what I see before me. If that’s not who I am, I’m not going to turn into that. Now, there’s a little ugliness in all of us. We all come. Good, bad and ugly. So there’s some of that in all of us. But ultimately, you can’t make me who I’m not. So I don’t say our current administration has caused us to be this way, but our current administration has given people permission to do this. And unfortunately, in just four short years, hearing the rhetoric of brazenness, watching people be belittled and ridiculed and maligned. People viewing that and then allowing, that which was in them – to come out. It's a sad day when that's all it has taken. Is four years and for people to see it model to think, “oh, so I can do it to now. You mean I don’t have to repress this anymore? I don’t have to be my adult self? I don’t have to be my professional self? You mean, every thought that’s in my mind I can now speak? And persons will come to my defense rather than hold me accountable, they’ll come to my defense?” You know it saddens me that folks have given into that so much. But I have a friend who said to me once, when someone really, really hurt her, really took advantage of her. And she said, at first she was very hurt and then God said to her, “No, no, no, no, no. You take this as a blessing. Because now you know who that person is.” Now you know. So on the other hand, I guess we can say there's a blessing in this because we see how deep the sin is, the cancer, in the United States of America. If we had lulled ourselves into believing that we really had risen above this as a nation now we know we haven't. We can't live behind that lie anymore. This is still too much a part of too many of our citizens. And so we have to confess that, we have to confront it. And we have to be willing individually to do something about it. Right? I have to own how much of this was in me. Right?  Why am I now cussing out the person in the grocery store line, who I think is taking too long or you know whatever the circumstances. When I see myself acting that way I have to say, “really? This is who I am?” And then it gives me the opportunity to change. But again, what folks have seen has just given them permission to live into some of the worst of ourselves instead of continuing to try to put forth our better angels.

Paul: Thank you, Bishop. I think you speak exactly to the heart of our experience as an American people, not just the last four years, as you said. As an experience. The last 50 years. The society that we’ve become, we’ve come to be groomed to know and understand that is fair and just, and somehow voting for an African American candidate makes you less racist. Twice – oh I did it twice, though. You know, that rhetoric of our allies, us the people of color, our allies are finding themselves in a juxtaposition, where they are having to relearn in 2020, how to be an antiracist because they never knew what that meant. They didn’t believe that was something they had to cater to. They “all of my friends are doing it this year; I guess I may as well. Why did it take 2020, for you to recognize that? You know its such a difficult situation. But hearing it framed the way you put it, it really does, it makes it more digestible. Because I can agree that yes, that is 100% accurate. So, I have a quick question for you and this is from our sheet that we had here, and it’s our second question and I’m just going to ask it how it is written. And I would really love to hear your thoughts on this. Based on the last political cycle, where did you see the intersection of race, faith, and the elections?

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling: You know, it’s very interesting. First of all, for me, it’s waking me up to the fact that I should not presume that all persons of color or, let me not even say it that way. All marginalized people will look at a candidate's platform, a candidate's ideology, even a candidate’s behavior the same way. I think that there’s been a presumption that there's more unity in let's say the Immigrant community, with communities of color that have been here for sometime because there's some commonality to the struggle. Right? That’s just not necessarily true. That is not necessarily true. When we look at what happened in Florida. The vote totals in Florida. And from what I understand, the commentators are saying very much of that was because of the Cuban-American vote. And the way that that voting group – again, not that any group is monolithic – you can talk about “the Cuban Vote.” I’m not trying to say that, but overall, the polling of persons, many of those who were Cuban voted in a way that many other people might have thought “not possible.” So, again, it reminds me that there should be no presumption that the intersection of race and politics situates someone in a place that we might have expected. It also says for me that capitalistic self interest is paramount for many people over and against what they see happening to others in their society. The images of families that have been ripped apart now that will in some instances never be brought back together again, right? That is not enough for some people to say, but the stock market is on the rise. And I may be able to look at my personal situation and say that it's better. I may like some of the way now America's postured around the world. So, I’m more willing to vote to continue that kind of political activity than I am to be concerned about what's happening with other persons in my community, or you know at least within my consciousness. Right? Because with the 24-hour news cycle, we can't say it’s not at least in our consciousness, so that kind of intersectionality has been really eye-opening. We are more divided than we have been,  I think, since the 1860’s and 1864. That’s when we were going into the Civil War and about to come out of the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln was elected the first time and then re-elected in 1864. I think we’re as divided as we’ve been since that time. And, like I said, I think it really has to do with this embrace of capitalism over against almost everything else for so many people. And it’s a rude awakening for us, and for people of faith, you know coming back to your prior comment. So, there is a difference between claiming to be a follower of Christ and transformation. Right? Because again and this isn’t about Democrat, Republican, Independent. It’s about my baptismal vows said to me that I’m supposed to resist evil wherever it presents itself. As a follower of Christ, if I take on the mind of Christ, Christ’s entire life was about caring for the marginalized. Christ becomes the most animated, the most angry when he sees communities taking advantage of the disadvantaged. When he sees, you know, the spiritual community ignoring in their very presence people who are most vulnerable. Right? So if I’m supposed to be taking on the mind of Christ, if I’m supposed to be living more Christ like, then it isn’t about a political party its about which candidate is living out the values that I claim to be paramount in my life. So then, it goes, have I been transformed to have the mind of Christ or am I claiming an ethic that I don’t carry with me into the voting booth, that I don’t carry with me beyond a Sunday morning experience. Has there been real transformation in my life? So all of those kind of intersectionalities have been on full display. For us to wrestle with and analyze and come to grips with. And we have some hard truths. And even if you are atheist, right? We have statues in the harbor of New York City that say, “bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” You don’t have to be a person of faith to understand. We have a constitution that says, “we the people, in order to form a more perfect union.” Perfect for whom? So, the intersection of what we see happening right now as we're still waiting for the results of the election, give us much to wrestle with in who we say we are politically, sociologically and for those of us who claim faith, religiously.

Aileen: I am so glad you brought up the Constitution. I mean, I love the Constitution but I also understand that it was written a while ago, by people who are very different than me for a different purpose. So, I kind of wrestlw with that. I’m Mexican American, daughter of immigrants. For me immigration is a big deal, diversity is a big deal, learning to be in intersection at all times is pretty much my life. But one of the things that we have in our Constitution is the three rights that every person has fundamentally. Is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Period. Regardless. And yet we see over and over and over again through policies, through ideologies, through sentiment that we don't actually believe that. And if we, it’s selective, Right? Because if everyone had the right to life, and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, then we wouldn’t make it so hard for people to just have those basic fundamental rights. We talk about the intersection and the ethics, you mentioned bishop, that people have to consider when they are at the polls, and I agree with that 100%. We bring all of those things when we have to decide on who we want to be leading our nation. But I feel like a lot of people don't feel that, even the candidates that we have, would represent them fully. Or a lot of people don't feel that they support one candidate or another fully. So what would you say – I know that we already voted but for the future, or maybe for some people who are still struggling with who they voted for, what would you say to those people who don't fully maybe support. Paul, maybe help me out. I want to say, what can you tell someone who is trying to deal with the choice that they made given their options.

Bishop LaTrelle Eastelring: And all of these things, you know, we’ve heard so much rhetoric leading up to this election. So, every statement that could be made or every – oh God, now I’m losing my words. All of the sayings that are so tried, we’ve trotted all of them out but it's also because they truly. So, yeah. The lesser of two evils. But even not voting is a vote. Choosing not to vote, is a vote. Because it isn't just about the presidential election, even though that is paramount right now. It's also about who became your city councelor, it’s also about judges. Right? It’s the Judiciary. So every aspect of our civic life was on the ballot. And even if I looked at the candidates, and I agree with you. I said to my husband the other night, Why didn’t we have a more exciting candidate? My god! You know, come on. I love him and all, but come on. Where was the fire? Where was the excitement? But. But, I wouldn’t sit out my vote because whether or not children can be tried as adults, right? Those are the kinds of things that judges make decisions about. So I need to know who am I voting? To put on the bench that’s going to make decisions for somebody's life. Whether or not its ok to have one Planned Parenthood clinic for a whole 500 miles in Texas, right? Even though it may not affect me, but that’s somebody’s right to Healthcare. That I’m either going to vote for or vote against. So, no. We didn't have perfect candidates in terms of the head of the ticket. But again, we’ve got to look at who are we giving power to? Because in this constitutional republic, which is shaped by a democratic form of government, right? We are allowed to vote. Those votes then elect the people that we send to represent us. I’ve got to think about I’m not empowering people that will affect aspects of my life but also aspects of everybody’s life around me. So, and im not trying to vote shame anybody. I agree with Brittany cooper we should not be vote shaming people, but we have a responsibility beyond, did I get excited about a candidate to understand that these people have now been turned loose for 2, 4, or 6 years depending upon what we elected them to. And their ideologies. The way that they look at the world. Who they value and who they don’t. how they read the constitution and how they are going to interpret it will affect all of us. And I need to take my rightful place, which is my vote and my power, to help decide who gets the privilege of doing that. So, therefore, six months from now or a year from now when I don’t like something and I either want to take it to the streets; or I want to go have a conversation with the judge or I want to walk the halls of Congress and hold people accountable, I get to say I have the right to do this because I voted. I voted, so you will listen to me. You will take me seriously as a participant in this democratic process. I think, if we’re honest, we give some of that up when we choose to sit it out simply because there was no perfect candidate, or the one that we would have chosen. My son in 2016 was a big Bernie supporter. Oh my God, he was a big Bernie supporter. Our oldest son, he was so upset when Bernie didn't get the nomination. He said, “That’s it, I’m done!” I said, “No, no, no, no, no. You don’t get to do that. I know you’re disappointed but you still have to look at ‘who am I empowering, right?’ What else might happen if we all just sit back out of our disgust or frustration over not being excited at who’s at the top of the ticket.” I would say things like that. This representative form of government that we have is just bigger than just who is the President and even the Vice President. Again, from the schoolhouse to the White House, we have the opportunity to elect who's going to lead us. And we need to accept that responsibility.

Paul: Great thoughts. I love that. I love that. The personal responsibility. Or the conviction, right? To exercise our call as Christians. You know, bishop this isn’t a question that I had prepared but just listening to you talk about this, you continue to raise that one of the fundamental issues that we’ve begun to reap is capitalism. So deeply engrained in our society. And these are thoughts that I ‘ve heard echoed by other great Methodist leaders in our church an in the world. Rev. James Lawson, he continuously always talks about the advocacy to dismantle plantation capitalism, that is so deeply engrained – not just in our society – but in our way of thinking, of voting and our way of participating in a direct democracy, right? And I love your approximation of just how important one vote is and also how divided we are. Now more than ever. And I agree with that and I also feel like we’ve never left 1865 because we’re still living under plantation capitalism because it has driven the direction of this nation, regardless of who has been in charge. I think I just wanted to say that out loud.

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling: Amen! Yes. I hear you. I feel you. I agree with you on that. We haven't ever left it. And it’s so permeated and infected the religious community. I keep trying to introduce into conversation, this notion of nationalism that has so infected who we are as a people of faith. That we don’t even see it anymore. That we are teasing out and calling out, yes, plantation capitalism, or capitalism, whatever you want to call it. That we are still so comfortable with it. Many of us contributing to it right? It’s just a blindness that we have allowed ourselves to get. And we’ve got to talk about that. What does that mean? I’m reading a couple of books now. Another book that I’m reading is White Too Long. And again it talks about how so much of theology has been co-opted by nationalism and of course, one of the cornerstones of racism, but it is capitalism. It just becomes again the prosperity gospel. All of those kinds of things instead of Christ saying, teaching us to pray, “give me now my daily bread.” I don’t need a billion dollars for myself to make sure I've got bread for me and my great-great grandchildren. It’s supposed to be, “give me today my daily bread.” Do I have enough for today. And if I only take what I need for today, so many more people are able to get what they need for today. And then I trust God for tomorrow. Right? So again, you know, when they were wandering in the wilderness, the Israelites and they wanted food and this mana fell. And they couldn’t store it up. Right? Remember what would happen if they tried to store it up? It would mold. It would rot. It would rot before their very eyes because there was this ethic of “stop taking more than you need. I’ll be here for you tomorrow. You don't need to take more than you need today.” How far of field are we from that in the way that we look at our personal lives? In the way that we look at the way our country is run? I mean the fact that we're still raping other developing nations so that we can have more of what we want at our fingertips in this mix society that we live in. I want it now, I want it more. I want it now. And we turn a blind eye to even what we're doing to other nations and other people. Those are human beings that are being affected by that. So yeah, I agree with you.

Aileen: No, I like that you said that because you know, capitalism, aside from other things, it’s a huge thing that our country promotes and worships. So like speaking specifically from my perspective and my point of view, I think of the countries that we use for cheap labor and other things like that, we bring their things into our country just to feed our needs – not even needs – usually wants and then we still blame it on them anyway. When immigrants come here to the United States because their governments can’t help them, because the US has fair trade or they are in deals with their countries that hurt them anyway. Even though the US is helping some governments treat their citizens poorly, like crap, and then when they have an opportunity to live in a place that might provide a better future for them and their future generations, as a society by the way we treat immigrants or the perception that is constantly being promoted, it’s so disrespectful. Because not only do we hurt them in their own land, if they come to the United States we still hurt them here. It’s like, it’s something that we are perpetuating but then when it comes to our doorstep we blame it on them anyway. And it’s like, you can’t really win. There is no winning, in that sense.

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling: Right. Absolutely. You know I was reading an article the other day. It infuriated me. So it’s talking about a landlord in one of our metropolitan cities. And the landlord was renting to someone that - and of course the landlord denies this - but that did not have proper immigration status, let’s say it that way, all right? But that landlord was renting to that person. Receiving rent from that person. Okay? The landlord was not attendant to the needs of the individual renting there. The individual was making know the pipes aren’t working right, the heat’s not working right, the faucet’s not working right. And the landlord failed to address any of those needs. By law, you have the right to begin to withhold rent when your landlord fails to keep the dwelling habitable. Okay? So, what does the landlord do? Contacts immigration. Says, oh, you don’t want to pay me rent? Fine. I’ll contact immigration. So, I'll rent to you even though I know you don't have the proper credentials. I'm fine as long as my capitalistic pocket is being lined by your dollars but I will not treat you like a human being or even like a rentee, even like someone I am in a contractual relationship with. I won’t recognize, I won’t honor the contract that we’ve entered into. Because I know that I’ve got you by the 8 ball, right? What are you going to do? Then if you try to exercise your right under the law, I am now going to use this weapon of your immigration status against you. Again. I’ve already used it against you because I won’t attend to your needs, because I figure you may not withhold the rent, you may not avail yourself of your legal right. So, it’s infuriating. And I think that’s sort of what you’re talking about. You can’t win for losing It’s infuriating. So, I have no business taking your money, but I will not treat you like a human being, I will not do what’s appropriate and then I will risk your safety by calling ICE. It’s for me, its unconsciable but again, it’s part of this capitalistic system. I see in those situations, in my mind, what people are saying is, “I see you as no more than a cog in my capitalistic wheel. That's all you are. You’re not a human being. You're a dollar sign and I'll take it as long as I can get it and then when something happens that I don’t like I’ll turn the system against you – I’ll use the system against you.

Paul: Very well said. Thank you for that reflection. I think that highlights the inhumanity, especially during a global pandemic. It’s heartbreaking and I know it's one of many thousands of stories that have taken place, not just this year but every year. So, I’m going to transition to our final question. Our third and final question and we talked about the history and how history tends to hang around. Bad history that we talked about today, we talk about strength for today. And we also want to look into that bright hope for tomorrow, right? Do we have a bright hope for tomorrow? Do people of color really have hope? And if we do, how do we build that hope? If it isn’t there, how do we as people of color, with our own hands, build hope for a brighter tomorrow?

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling: So if you look over my left shoulder, you’ll see a sign on my bookshelf that says “hope.” I am known to carry that with me when I am out. When I was asked to participate in the Service of Repentance and Lament for the United Methodist Church right after that the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, I took that with me. And I put it on the table that held the communion elements. I had it with me when I was doing a virtual session of annual conference. I am known to carry that with me as a visible sign of hope. But scripture says that we also ought to be able to give an account of the hope that dwells within us. Right? So, how can I not be a person of hope? I am a descendant of persons who were stuffed in the hull of a ship, having to live, to travese the middle passage in each other's urine and excrement and vomit. Who were willing to hang on to life. Again, having been ripped away from everything they that knew. Knowing that they were going to a living hell from just the way they were being treated. To then be brought to shores where the language was foreign, the food was foreign. Everything about it was foreign. They were treated like animals. Preached  a gospel that told them they were God-ordained and told them they were criminals if they attempted to escape from it. They lived through that. To be able to be then finally, right? Be released from chattel slavery only then to move into another kind of legal slavery, Jim Crow and systemic oppression right? To be denied the right to vote, to be denied again what the constitution says all persons were supposed to have as their unalienable right. To come through the civil rights era, to come through that deadly period of terrorism that we lived through, through the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups. To today. How can I look at that and not be a person of hope? How can I not still hang onto hope? Is what we're going through now hard? Of course it is. And all of that, you know I don’t believe in looking at someone and saying “well, because this happened, what you’re going through isn’t that bad.” No. We have to be attendant to what is happening to us. But what I am saying is how can I not look back at that history and believe that the God that heard the Israelites, or other people crying out in Egypt and sent Moses to let my people go, is the same God that brought my ancestors through. And I, you know, I and you and all of us are the visible prayers for those who came before me. How dare I not believe that God and claim a hope for the future. I have, a as of tomorrow, I will have a 21 year old and a 26 year old. How can I not have hope that God is with them and their future. Now, there’s work for us to do, though. There’s work for us to do. We have to stop giving in to this game of we have to be pitted against one another. Again, as people of color. You know, I know some people bristle at that term now. But as persons of different cultures and ethnicities, we have to stop allowing ourselves to be pitted against each other. As if this pie only ahs so much that we have to fight over the scraps. BS! BS on that! We need to understand our power, our collective voice, and what we can demand in this country if we come together. If we come together as an immovable force. Right? To say, “No, no, no, no, no. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Mine too. Right? All people created equal. Mine too. The right to have education. Mine too.” We need to stand together. Dismantle this preschool to prison pipeline, yes. We’re going to do that. Dismantle the criminalization of petty stuff while white collar crime goes unaddressed, no more. I mean that’s the kind of stuff we need to come together and stand together for. And the folks that keep us pitted against each other, they know the power of us coming together. They wouldn’t work so hard. Just like trying to take our votes from us. They wouldn’t work so hard to keep people from voting if they didn’t know the power of every vote and if they didn’t know the power of us coming together. So our work is to resist the narratives of competition. To resist the narratives of othering, right? I don't have to other you, you don't have to other me. Our communities don't have the other each other but that goes back to also a plantation mentality, right? Poor whites on the plantation were treated just a half inch above the enslaved but as long as they told them, you’re better than them then they were willing to bring out the whips and the chains and to beat those who were enslaves back into submission. They weren’t benefitting from that cotton or those other goods being harvested and sold. Right? So we all need to loose ourselves from the chains of this oppression and rise together. And resist the temptation to as were rising, we’re going to put our boot on your neck – no. We have to resist that. Right? We don’t want to be about retribution. Let’s all lift as we climb. So yes. I have hope and I also recognized that we have work to do. To come together to form relationships. To get to know each other beyond a slogan or beyond the preconceived notions of each other. See the humanity in one another. And work together that all people might enjoy a brighter future.

Paul: Amen! Oh, I love hearing you preach the truth to power.

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling: I don’t want to preach! I try so hard not to preach all the time. I hope that didn’t sound like I was preaching. But I am passionate about it. I'm passionate about that.

Paul: I know. I can tell and I think it’s the good kind of preaching. Its not the kind that puts Methodists to sleep in the back of the church. It’s the kind that makes us preach with our feet.

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling: Yes, there you go. Use words if we have to. Preach with words if we have to.

Aileen: I like that you also kind of talked about, because when you were talking about this, I was kind of asking myself “is she talking about people of color in general?” But then you also talked about how we need to unite, not only as people of color – but yes, people of color – but also like its about our white friends and our white families too. Its collective, its all of us. So thank you for sharing that. Because I think that very often we kind of even pit ourselves against each other as humans. Like it’s people of color and then there’s white people. But you included that, so thank you.

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling: Absolutely. Absolutely. That saying that “until we are all free, none of us are free”? That is absolutely true. That’s everybody right? There is no one left out of that everybody. All of us together, we're not free until we're all free. And what would it behoove us as persons who have been historically marginalized communities to then turn around and leave somebody behind? That would make no sense. So, thank you. If in any way anyone thought that I sounded as though I was not totally inclusive, I absolutely am.

Paul: Well, thank you so much, Bishop. I want to be very attentive to your time. I know you’ve got a lot of meetings to jump into to save our church and I’m glad that you get to do that work for us and I’m also glad that we get to do that work with you.

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling: I’m just grateful again for the two of you. For the ministry that you are offering to the church and the world. Thank you for who you are and the vessels of God that you are. Thank you.

Outro by Paul: Thanks for sticking around. Bishop Easterling brought a powerful word and offers hope to the marginalized who have persisted through so many trials. To learn more about us head on over to Our Conexión is produced by United Methodist Communications and The National Plan for Hispanic and Latino Ministry. Music is provided by William Baxter Noon and the world changing comes from you. Thank you. ¡Hasta luego!

This conversation took place November 4th, 2020.

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