Mateo Massey, UNT
Hello, my name is Mateo Massey I am currently a sophomore at UNT. This would be my second year in FOCUS and my first year as a corefa. Although I may seem very talkative and energetic I wasn’t always like this. It took a couple of months to get use to my focus family, and even longer to open up and become vulnerable about my life. It is by God’s power and Grace that I am able to speak up and step out of my comfort zone.
To start off I think it is important for you guys to understand who I am. I am an African-Mexican American. My father is black and my mother is Mexican. I am a man who loves to listen to country music. I am a man who would prefer to eat enchiladas and fried chicken before I would eat hamburgers and hot dogs. I am a man who would prefer to wear Levi’s over Jordan’s.
But above all these things I think it is important to say that I am a Christian who is deeply in love with Christ.
Now some of you may be wondering what it was like growing up with two different race’s mixed into one body, and I am here to tell you that it wasn’t easy. Although I grew up in a loving household and friendly neighborhood I was still exposed to the racial tension that creeps through our society, but it was not from the race that most of you believe that it was from. It was more from my own people, the Black and Mexican community. It all started when my parents enrolled me into an academy elementary school, which basically meant that the number of minorities was significantly lower than the number of white students. However, because my skin tone was darker than the average Mexican and lighter than the average black person I was alienated from those two ethnic groups. Many times I was picked on because I had long curly hair that almost made me look like a girl due to my mixed heritage, this caused me to start cutting on my own hair without my parent’s permission. Yet through all this I was accepted by the white community, which probably explains my love for country music. The White Kids made sure I didn’t sit alone at lunch, the white kids invited me over to stay the night, the white kids helped me study when my grades started to fall.
Now I know you might say that this was only elementary school and middle school and that it would have gotten better as I grew up, which is slightly true, but in truth the alienation just took a different turn. Instead of physical bullying, it changed to words of resentment. Since I loved country music, didn’t speak Spanish, had a different style to the way I dressed, the way I talked, and even since I was taking advanced level classes I was often times labeled as a sellout. In case you do not know what a sellout is, the word sellout meant that I did not stay true to my race; that I was embarrassed of my culture, my background, my ethnicity. I, however, was not embarrassed but since they were looking through the lens of stereotypes they often perceived my life differently.
Before I continue on to my college life I believe it is important for you guys to understand how my family life went. I had two older brothers and one young sister. The majority of my life was shaped around my brothers, but finding my place in our race was something they could not specifically help me with. My oldest brother related more with the Mexicans, and my second older brother related more with the African Americans. So trying to find a balance between my race was a struggle since I didn’t have a constant example in my life. However, my parents were the ones that constantly told me that my race wasn’t the subject that defined me, but instead my characteristics and personality is what makes me unique and I shouldn’t want to change that.
It wasn’t until college when I was truly accepted. Specifically, when I joined FOCUS. When I entered into FOCUS the majority of the people were white, but there was also an encouraging amount of diversity. People like Bradley, Sergio, Troy, Pedro and Aaron Arthur who did not let their race and stereotypes be a barrier to creating new friendships, but instead they chose to let God be the driving factors that built their friendships. Then I met Matthew Cavanaugh and David Woods, two very white men with a very black core. But they did not let that become a barrier to building friendships. Then there was my closest friends and current roommates, Garvin Williams and Tyrus Taylor. Two black guys who love to listen to rap, but they still brought my country loving self into their lives and built a strong friendship. Since my time in FOCUS I rarely experience racism from any ethnic groups, but instead I experienced a love that Christ has often reflected to us in his teachings.
So to those who grew up in a setting that is vastly different from who you are, just remember that Jesus was in our shoes, a King that grew up as a carpenter son, a King that didn’t have a place to lay his head, a King that was sought out and crucified by his children. He came to this earth and left victorious still as a King; my king. Don’t let your race and background be the things that define you, but instead let your definition be found in Jesus Christ.
And to the rest of you guys, I ask that you do not exclude people who grew up differently from you. Don’t exclude people because they are not like you, do not exclude people that intimidate you, do not exclude people because you perceive something different about them, and do not exclude anybody because you cannot relate to them, but instead show the love and unity that Jesus Christ has freely given us. As it says in Galatians 3:28- “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus.” Thank you.