Daisy L. Machado was born in Cuba and migrated to the U.S. with her parents when she was 3 years old. She was raised in NYC where she earned her B.A. (Brooklyn College), her MSW (Hunter College School of Social Work, and her M.Div. (Union Theological Seminary). She is an ordained minister and has served inner city congregations in Brooklyn and Manhattan, NY, Houston, TX, Fort Worth, TX. Her experience of living in the Texas borderlands led her to pursue and complete a PhD in Modern Church History at the University of Chicago where Dr. Martin Marty was her dissertation advisor. She has taught in seminaries in Texas, Kentucky and currently in NYC. She has also served as the first Latina dean at Lexington Theological Seminary (KY) and at Union Theological Seminary. She was the first director of the Hispanic Theological Initiative and is currently the director of the Hispanic Summer Program.
Patrick: Welcome again to the Sound of the Genuine, the Forum for Theological Exploration’s limited audio series on vocation, meaning and purpose. And today we're lucky we got Dr. Daisy Machado, who has been the Dean at Union, as a full professor of church history also the executive director of the Hispanic Summer Program, which has been offering Latino theological education for over 30 years. I am so excited to have Dr. Machado here.
Dr. Machado. It's good to be with you today. Thank you for joining us.
Daisy Machado: Buenas Tardes, Patrick it’s good to be with you as well. I’m delighted to be a part of this project.
Patrick: I'm so grateful that you are and part of it is I know what you do now. Besides leading HSP and a former Dean and professor, you do all the things. And I'm actually curious as where all this magic begins. Can you tell me a little bit about it?
Daisy Machado: I was born in Cuba, but I was raised in New York. We came when I was three years old and we were part of that early migration that left the Island. The idea was always to return and then the revolution came and things did not work out. As it happens for many immigrants who leave country under political issues. So I was raised in New York. I was raised in Brooklyn. I was raised in Williamsburg, but at that time was a very different community. It was made up of immigrants, a lot of Hasidic Jews, a lot of Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe and from Germany and the beginning of Puerto Rican's coming in.
I went through first to fourth grade without any other Latinx child in the class with me. So it was a different kind of New York. And I grew up Pentecostal, another interesting thing. Usually you think of Latinx folks as Catholic, but my mother had been a product of that first wave of the missionary enterprise, with the protestant missionary enterprise. And there was a wonderful missionary woman from Puerto Rico who went to Cuba. And so my family, my mother's family joined a protestant church and it was an interesting experience all around. I grew up in a very urban environment and a very diverse environment.
I grew up surrounded with Yiddish and Spanish and German, and there was some Greek families. I think about my diet now, the things that I like - matzoh ball soup and gefilte fish. And in addition to arroz con pollo and platanos fritos. So it was a really diverse world. And I hadn't realized since I was much older, how much that was shaping me to see the world through that kind of diversity, it was normative.
The world is not easy and immigration comes and you know, I had a sense that people came because of so many different reasons. So there was like this awareness of this vast kind of human reality. As a child that was just something I would constantly think about it and question, but I look back and I think, wow I was really being shaped for a discourse that was very much then becomes normative for me and my own writing and my teaching and how I see the classroom and how I see the work that I'd done in the Academy. And one of the interesting things I learned early on was that if you didn't speak the language you were invisible.
So I was one of those kids that early on would translate for adults. And I got to hear stories and things, and I began to have a consciousness that the United States was not an opening place. It wasn't welcoming to a lot of people. It happened to me in school when I was in fourth grade. It was the first time I had seen another Latina girl, a little girl in fourth grade. Nellie Torero she's out there, Nellie I remember you! And we started speaking in Spanish. It was so wonderful and we were punished. And so the teacher had us stand in front of the class and apologize and say we were sorry for speaking that nasty language. I'll never forget that.
I remember going home and crying about that. My father was a great storyteller, constantly stories in Spanish so that I wouldn't hate the language or be afraid of it. And so I always maintained the bilingual world thanks to them. So I grew up with these kinds of experiences and what I wanted to be when I grew up, thinking about your question, I wanted to be an interpreter.
Like the United Nations, my first trip to the United Nations I loved it. And I thought, I want to just be able to interpret and have people know what's going on in the world events. And of course, New York, you can do anything in New York. You go by train anywhere. And you could be in such a different world in a minute, in a minute because of the train stop that you get off on.
I am a product of the city school system. I got skipped some grades. I graduated early, I graduated at 16 and I started Brooklyn College. So I'm a product of the CUNY system which I'm very proud of. And I wanted to be a social worker. And my decision to do that was because of the need that I saw in the community. New York at that time was a rough place. And I remember being so concerned about what I saw. I saw, you know there were some issues also at the church with church families and trying to get help for people. I felt there's gotta be another way. So I did my masters of social work and in the process I wanted to become a minister. So I did my MDiv at Union. And I was a pastor for an inner city congregation in Brooklyn, in Bushwick. And it was a really wonderful experience because of the community aspect. Because of my social work I did a lot of community projects with the church, but it was also a place of a lot of…I buried a lot of young people due to gang violence.
I was able to learn another whole piece of human life, which is loss and how to deal with loss and about systemic injustice, young kids being killed these young, mostly Puerto Rican young men, so it was a really big learning curve for me.
You come from an environment like Union and all the conversations about black theology and all this stuff, and then it comes to real, real, real life. And I remember the person who preached at my ordination, so that was the first Latino ordained in that area for the Christian Church. And I remember that he said in the sermon, I'll never forget, he said, the idea is that you walk into seminary and your faith comes out like a Rubik's cube in little pieces. And then it's up to you to put it back together again as you journey with the people. And that's what I've tried to do.
That's been a powerful image for me. Every experience takes the rubik’s cube apart a little bit. But it’s the journey with the people that helps you put it back together. It helps you make sense. That’s why for me to be grounded in community, la comunidad, en conjunto, acompanamiento, those are really powerful, but they’re deeply personal because I think that it’s in the journey with community that we make sense of ourselves. And also we hold ourselves accountable, but we put ourselves together. The whole idea of people being broken was something that I very well understood. When I was a pastor after working in New York and getting that first church it really was wonderful.
Some people that were not happy having a woman pastor, I was the first ordained in that whole area. So it was a big deal. The church grew and it was good. I loved that. It was an exciting phase of my life. I love the ministry. I've always loved it. The idea of the sacraments and preaching is such a joy for me. It's also a big responsibility to be able to do that. After that, we went to do new church starts in Texas, and that's when the real part of my journey began.
That's when I entered what I call my exile period in the desert. Texas was really difficult. Not only because I was caribena and I had a perspective that was very urban and Texas was so new. The borderlands were so new to me.
Latinos are not all the same, we're really different. And so the context of our struggles have to be understood and part of good leadership, good teaching, good writing, good deaning whatever is to really understand the context of the people you serve and you work with. So that taught me that I didn't know anything. I had no idea what was going on.
Patrick: Dr. Machado, just to name that before you even get into Texas, that if anyone's prepared for this - I think I'm thinking of listeners who are not in the Latino context, who hear someone who grew up in New York where you've been, I'm just a little overwhelmed with the amount of trauma, history, translating life experience you're getting in the city. And to say, even though it's a different Latino experience, if anyone with an MSW and MDiv, who's moving out to the borderlands who knows the language is prepared for that moment. Go deep into why it's not so that way they understand that difference.
Daisy Machado: You know, what I learned first of all was that the way that communities of color are oppressed in this nation. So what was happening in Texas and the oppression and the racial encounters between tejanos and Euro Americans was so different from whatever happened in the Northeast because of the immigration patterns were different, because of land. And it was just, it's a different way of being. One of the things that threw me for a loop, so this is during the contra wars. That's when I went to pastor. So the new church starts were housed in Anglo congregations, where the mentality of the folks who were hosting us, the pastors and the leaders of those Euro American congregation was that they were dealing with inferior people. So that took me right away from the start. So the conversations were very one-sided about how they were doing this great favor by allowing us in. And I thought to myself…
Patrick: Oh my gosh
Daisy Machado: What the hell? What, what, who are you talking to? It was that kind of thing. We went out to dinner the first time with them. Never forget that with the pastor and his wife, and then the other minister in charge of all of the new church starts. And I was there with my husband and they ordered the food which was fine. And there was tortillas and refried beans and all this stuff and I'm looking at it thinking what the hell? And I remember so when nobody's eating and I thought, okay. So we prayed and still nobody's eating. And I thought, I said aren’t we going to start? And one of the pastor's wives says to me we're waiting for you honey. Show us how to make a taco. I said to her, I don't know how to eat any of this food and they were just taken aback. So if you're not the kind of Hispanic they're thinking about you don't exist. She says aren't you, aren't you all, Mexican?
I said, no. So we spent 20 minutes just saying this is Cuba and Cuba is not Mexico. And I thought this is unbelievable. We were in Texas 20 years, not all of it in the church, because it came a point where my soul said no more. And my soul, like the biblical narrative, cried out to God from the desert, and said Oh Lord, where art thou? Liberate me, set me free Lord! And I went to do my doctoral studies. I got admitted to University of Chicago.
I thought maybe if I understand this, maybe if I study it I'll be able to deal with it better. Because I was having a really hard time, just the way we were treated and just the way people reacted. It was just hard. And so we went to University of Chicago and I was working with Dr. Marty in doing my history. And I remember telling him a little bit about what was going on in Texas. And he said to me then you must read Herbert Eugene Bolton and the borderlands. And that was it. That was the moment that the door opened wide for me. This little man, Lutheran man from Minnesota opened up that door for me.
I am forever grateful to Dr. Marty for his attention to detail with his students, which I learned from him, for caring about listening to the little details of student's life. I was fascinated. And of course, I made it my own, which is what he wanted me to do. It wasn't a white man reading Herbert Eugene Bolton it was Latina woman. The borderlands and all of that opened up to me, of a world of…now I had a way to translate what was going on. And what I decided because of my deep connection with the church, is I wanted to teach seminary.
I decided right then and there I'm going to be a seminary professor. That's it. And I remember in the conversation we had the doctoral students at the University of Chicago meeting with the historical field and Jerry Brower, who had been Dean he was a great professor, also a specialist in Luther.
He says to me, no, no, no, my dear, you're going to start at the undergraduate level and you're going to work at a university. And I said, no, I'm not Dr. Brower. I'm going to teach in a seminary. I know what I want. He says those jobs are hard to come by. I said, but they're not impossible.
And that's something else I've learned that nobody tells me and defines me and tells me. You don't know. No. And I've never taught undergrad. It was just not me. I've always been a seminary professor because my goal was to teach white Euro American men, especially, and let them hear stories from another perspective, to give them the opportunity to make their own minds up about the kind of ministers they wanted to be.
And I was hired, my first job right after my doctoral exams. I wrote my dissertation while I was teaching at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth. And that was another interesting experience.
Patrick: I'm thinking about the context. It's not like they're that far. That's Texas still, that's after the borderlands. There's plenty of Latinos in there. This isn't like, it's not a world apart. What is that like being in that context?
Daisy Machado: The interesting thing is Patrick, that I was there, I taught there for about almost 10 years, never had Latino student in class ever because they didn't recruit Latino students. So when I got there, I realized okay, everything I've learned in the abstract, everything I've written about in the abstract. And it's a denominational seminary, it happens to be in the denomination that I was ordained in the Christian Church, Disciples. I had connections with people that I knew, but it was all brand new in terms of the academic piece.
And I realized they were not recruiting. And so that was my first taste of ATS institutional racism. So I remember going to the Dean and saying, I've been here two years. I don't have any Latino students. You don't have any Latino students. How could that be?
You're 90 years old. You're in Texas. Look around you there are Latinos everywhere. And he said to me, never forget, that he said to me, we don't recruit Latinos because they don't value education. And I looked at him and I said, really? I said, you're talking to a Latina. You're different.
And that's when I learned that other piece, there's always an exception for the vision, this racist vision. And I was furious with that. So I worked really hard. I said to myself, okay, so now I'm going to develop different courses.
I've taught straight history, medieval reformation, modern, or whatever I was an historian. That's what I do. I love to do what I did, but I began to invent classes. And that's how I started my borderlands trips. I began to take Anglo American male, mostly male students, that's mostly what I had but, students to the borderlands in Texas.
And these are people that were born and bred in Texas had never been to the border. And I remember that the first three classes I taught the Dean would not give me credit for them because he said that they weren't academically sound. But I had already been to the president's office before I went to his office because I knew what he was going to say. And I already had his permission and I had funding for a van. All I needed was a van Patrick, that's all I needed. And I got the van funded and we were on our way to the border. And the class became such a popular class because I really had them read Bolton and I had them begin to read all the literature that was available at the time and engage the border. Why is it that people migrate? Why is it that we have the problems that we have? What's going on with the colonias? At the time it was a big, big problem with the colonias. How does a movement, the farm workers happen?
What does it mean? It wasn't a course that was threatening in the sense of look what you white people are doing. No, this is not about that. There's a bigger story than that. I made sure that they would meet folks and I began to get a wonderful connection and a network of activists, people who had been there five generations.
People who could tell them stories about being there from the 1600's, that's where their land grants there that they had. So the language becomes different. The students begin to have a different conversation. And so that course became very popular. And then I began to add other kind of courses that focused on these realities and the border. So I'm glad to know that I was able to contribute to that. In addition, I started the borderlands center, which we brought in a Latinx faculty member to lecture to the community, all of TCU and all of the community on a topic about theology that had to do with the Latinx community.
And we had Orlando Espin, and we had all kinds of different, great speakers. Ada María Isais-Díaz, come, and they got really big. We used to have following, now people come a lot of Latinx from the community began to come. The goal behind the lecture series was not just for the students, but to show the faculty that they had Latinx colleagues that were superb.
That they could engage and they could use their books in the classroom that these were a great thing. And then towards the very end, my last two years, we started a program with pastors who had not gone to seminary, which is a reality for our Latinx community of Protestants. They don't go to seminary and we would have them come for a week. These are active pastors, what do we want them to take away? Let’s be practical. This wasn't a degree program. We had them write a sermon or do things like that, but it was just a great program.
So I learned a lot about administration, continued to learn about administration, which served me well, because I went to do the Hispanic Theological Initiative. I was the founding director of that back in 1996 when it started in Atlanta on the campus of Emory University, I was the first director. I was given a 135 page proposal and an empty office and told, okay, this is August we want for all the students to be ready to be interviewed in April. The first class of the HTI students were interviewed for scholarships in 1997. So that was a really good learning experience. That took me to another level because what I did is I traveled across the country, meeting with Deans to talk about hiring.
Because one of the things that would happen was that people were not hiring PhD Latinos. And so conversations, I would call up and you know not everybody wanted to see me, but those that invited me, I went there and I spent time with them, visited the campus and spoke to them and really encouraged them and talked about the great students we had and our PhDs and what they were doing and all that kind of stuff.
So that was another learning things in terms of my own development. And so I enjoyed it very much. But I decided after they moved to Princeton I didn't want to go to Princeton for many, many reasons. And so I went back to teaching and I went back to Brite for another two years. I wanted to go back to Texas. I decided that, yeah, I wanted to continue to take on Texas.
Patrick: I want to celebrate both the - you talked a little about Latinos being invisible both in the Texas area. You're doing this for students. And I think a lot of listeners, especially aspiring scholars of color who were thinking about administration or even faculty work, the type of organizing you had to do. Can you talk a little bit about what it's like to also be one of the only if not the only person on faculty, cause that's a certain level of invisible as well. Can you talk a little about navigating that?
Daisy Machado: Really the invisibility is not just because the faculty don't think really about you as a scholar, but they don't value what you're doing. And that hurts. Yeah. I'm going to be honest with you here. You're sitting with colleagues who talk about their books and all this stuff they're doing, but nobody ever thinks of saying well, and by the way Daisy, how are you doing? What are you writing? Because I was active the whole time. I was always producing. And I thought this is really, really, really messed up. There's no caring of that. So being the only one means that you have to have tenacity, but you have to be tapped into people that are going to support you outside of the institution. Because you need people that you can talk to about what's going on, that are going to help you to get the confidence to continue because it's very lonely.
And so I developed a good network of people, of friends and colleagues that I've met along the way who have supported me. And I think that's important. Being the only person also means that you feel like you have to carry the weight of a community. We have to be careful with that because it's a tricky kind of situation to be in.
There's a saying in Spanish El que se crees un salvador termina crucificado if you think yourself a savior you're going to end up crucified. We're not anybody's saviors. We're not there to be crucified. It's a lesson to learn. You're there to do work as an academic. You're there to do work as a scholar, as a professor. You want to be with your students because that's where you shine and what you feel in the heart of hearts. But you're not there to explain the Latinx reality to every single white person that wants to talk to you. And you don't have time to talk to everyone. And I learned that when you start at the beginning, you're so nervous it's your first job, you don't have tenure and blah, blah, blah. But after a while you say, you know what, nah, no. I'm not going to do it because it doesn't help. It doesn't make them any more conscious of you or any more appreciative of you or any more desirous of wanting to be your colleague. It doesn’t help.
That doesn't mean I stopped going to meetings or I wasn't a cooperative faculty member of course, and I did get tenure, but I wasn't going to do these other things that I felt were not healthy for me. So self care is important. And the issue of self care has to be looked at, not just from I have to rest or I need to spend more time at home. There's also your self care of your dignity. Self care of your own pride. And you don't have to feel that you have to grovel for anything. Not every position is available to you. Not everything is going to happen the way you want it. You're not going to get everything you want in your career. So you find ways to get what you need and what satisfies you and what is going to be at abundantly enough.
And that's what I found. What I was doing was enough to satisfy me, to satisfy my spirit, to satisfy my intellect. But you have to find outlets for that so that you can continue to be true to yourself, which for me is really important.
Patrick: Speaking of being true to yourself. Thinking about where you grew up, you didn't stay in Texas, you ended up back in New York. Tell us about the move back.
Daisy Machado: I've always wanted to see the world and the part of the reason for this, and I didn't realize it till I was much older, was because I didn't have a home in terms of a nation. So Cuba was inaccessible to me. The only way I could access Cuba was through my parents' stories and through my parents' yearnings for Cuba. But Cuba was not really mine. So I went to Cuba when I was 20, it was my first visit after leaving when I was 13. And it was a very profound, emotional experience because one of the first things I realized was I wasn't Cuban.
I had not lived la revolución, I had not been there. My cousins who were my age were suspicious of me. I was a Yankee. I was imperialista. And that was a big surprise. Cause I first saw myself as a leftist, socialist intellectual. I was going there all suave and sophisticated. I had read Marx and Engels. But they didn't care. I wasn't Cuban. And that was so hurtful to me, it was so hurtful. So I don't make it in New York because I speak a nasty language. And then I go to Cuba and I don't make it in Cuba. So I realized really that I am this person who is truly borderlands. I live in the borderlands. I live in in-between-ness. That's where the word, that's another book that Martin gave me, Marty gave me. Nepantla is a book of poetry by a Chicana by a no, Tejana poet. It's called Nepantla and I learned the word, the land in the middle. The Nahuatl word and that's where I live, the land in the middle.
I am a person, an inhabitant of Nepantla and I like it in Nepantla because Nepantla has allowed me the flexibility of taking on different, different roles and not identities because I've always been Latina and I've always been Cuban. I've always been who I am, but a flexibility of not having necessarily to be tied to this national history.
For a long time when I would introduce myself that I was like Celia Cruz, who used to say Soy ciudadana del mundo. I'm a citizen of the world because she was a borderland Nepantla person herself. And I began to realize, yeah, that's exactly who I am. So that gave me flexibility of movement. So I lived in New York. I studied in Chicago. I was a social worker for a bit in Miami. I lived in Atlanta for the HTI. I was a Dean in Kentucky and everybody said, oh you're going to Kentucky? Yeah, I’m going to Kentucky. So what? Why can't I go to Kentucky? Wherever you go, you're home because Nepantla is everywhere.
So going back to New York was really a trip I got to tell you. New York was a different place than I had left 20 years before. Union was a different school. Being in the city - was good to be back and it was just another learning curve like any other and in some places and some moments, it was perhaps more difficult because I had been a student that did my MDiv there. So it was an honor to be back as a professor where I had studied, but it was also, I carried a bit of the memories of the past. So I've been dealing with that for the last 14 years.
Patrick: One of the things I love about you saying, identifying as Nepantla, what I love about that phrase is that for a lot of doctoral students, a lot of folks who are thinking about careers in academia, they associate their role with their identity. So I'm a faculty member. I'm full professor I'm Dean, and they don't have a sense of living in between spaces. Like they don't have a sense of movement. And that sounds like it gives you a sense of identity without having to be defined by any of the institutions you work in.
Daisy Machado: Everywhere you go, you will be able to reach across and you will find people - people that will hate you but people that won't and will really want you to succeed. And that's what Nepantla is for me. It allows me to see a diversity of human that are not tied to one specific stereotype or to any institution. Because one of the things that I've learned is that institutions don't value us all that much in the long run. And when it's time to say goodbye, they will tell you goodbye.
And so if you tie up your identity with your job title, you may be sorely disappointed. I've seen that. And as a Dean, I've learned about the hiring process. Faculty are human beings who are looking for different, specific things. So you have to understand that when you walk into that room, you're being judged on a whole lot more than just your intellectual capacity and your pedagogy.
And I think that sometimes I've seen, and it made me sad to see, some younger folks coming in for interviews who just bombed because they assumed that it was about them. And it's never about you. Even if you're being interviewed it's about the institution and what the institution wants and what the institution feels it needs to get to the next place it wants to go.
Deans have power, but Deans don't have all power. You have to work with a large faculty body with different personalities and their own visions for what the school should be. You're juggling all the time. And not only that, but you're also working with the president, who is your direct supervisor who responds to a board. So there's those levels of pressure on you that you have to really learn to negotiate. And it's very hard. It was very hard, I did Deaning twice. I did it in Kentucky. I was Dean at Union. But Deaning is interesting. It's challenging. It can be very rewarding, but it's really complicated and difficult ultimately. And yeah, I don't, I don't think I'll do it again.
Patrick: And what was it? Is it the shared governance? Is it the administrative work? Is it navigating the institutional politics? What is it?
Daisy Machado: So it's all of those pieces, plus it's the daily pressure of making everything fall into place. And you also have accrediting bodies, accreditation visits. That means that you have to have committees of faculty that are going to look over bylaws. They’re going to be looking over your standards. And it's just a really complicated piece. So not only are you dealing with students who are not doing well in classes or students that need to be on probation or students that are having mental health issues, budget or housing concerns if you have a residential community, what's going on with the housing. But then you're also dealing with just the nitty gritty of keeping the school accredited of making sure that your system for processing applications is functioning, that you have all these big, big pieces because you work with a very big staff.
I think that the statistics are that deans average five years or something like that. Maybe a little bit less and that's about all they can take, because it is exhausting. It is exhausting. And then if you add the layer of being a person of color and the resistance of some of your faculty who probably didn't even care about you when you were a faculty member, now that you’ve become Dean, they have all kinds of opinions. It can get even more difficult and then some days it can be painful. Yeah.
Patrick: And what I'm definitely not hearing is that it's just a faculty promotion.
Daisy Machado: It's a whole new job. Plus you're teaching. I taught a class every semester. I taught my required courses. It's not a, believe me, it's not a promotion. No, it's a whole lot of work.
Patrick: But you didn't give up administration altogether. You re-kicked into gear HSP. So tell us about the launch.
Daisy Machado: I tell you, you talk about these Kairos moments in your lives which I believe in very much. While I was still a Dean, I was asked if I would consider being the director of HSP and I hadn't before, because I was so busy with the Dean. It would just have not been responsible. But now that I knew that it was ending, I submitted my name. I said, okay, I'll put it in my name with the rest of the people. And so I became director it'll be seven years ago now. I can't believe it. And HSP has always been a wonderful institution, but it's always been institution run by a part-time director. It's just a model, but it's been very successful and has had a lot of impact and provided a place for where many of our PhDs went and for the first time saw another Latino PhD. And some of them have said that this is the first time I ever imagined that I could teach. I didn't even know that I could do that. So the mentoring piece is really important.
And we're already talking about Through Hispanic Eyes, which is for non-Latino faculty and staff. We have a new model that I'm working on with two folks who are going to be leading that. Yeah. So we're doing exciting things and I'm very happy with that work. It's been seven very good years.
Patrick: That's incredible. And I think about the vocational journey you've taken us on that HSP, the Hispanic Summer Program is more than just giving Latino students access to Latino professors, education in both English and Spanish, and to use your words from the beginning, that dirty language. Yeah. Our seminaries treat it like that. And also helping white folks Through Hispanic Eyes is a program for folks to learn about what our communities need. And in some cases learn that we are diverse communities. You're checking all those boxes. I'm really curious about where you see Hispanic theological education going in general? Cause HSP is such a strong model for what is needed in the world and just by the numbers, it's insufficient by itself to really address all of our communities. So I'm wondering where you see this kind of leading?
Daisy Machado: That's a very, kind of multilayered complex piece because and I think with COVID it gets even more complicated because the institutions have been hit with lower numbers in terms of admissions and stuff like that. So all of that has impacted the finances of our schools. Many of them were struggling already. And what I found is that the first program that gets cut is a program like the HSP. So the sponsoring institution will cut and not be a sponsor anymore and that's happened to us. And I understand that. That's just the reality of it. So what that tells me is that in theological education, the Latinx reality and the Latinx challenge is still, it's still not being taken on the way it needs to be taken on. And so I would like in the next years of this grant that allow for flexibility and allow for a different kind of structure. I now have a full-time administrator, there's going to be a full-time assistant for special projects and all that kind of stuff.
It will allow for more work for more robust work to really engage schools. Because I think conversations with faculty and deans and presidents is really a place to go and offer them concrete collaborations and concrete partnerships to help them, to visualize what is possible.
So in addition to our two week program, which by the way, it's also gaining a lot of momentum with African-American and with Euro-American students, we have a growing number of that apply. And of course, if you want to go to the program to apply, you don't have to speak Spanish and be Latino.
We always create a space for everybody that again, I think it's important. But what that does is really shows and proves that there is this desire to engage the reality of Latinidad. What it means to be Latino in this country so that our classrooms really are laboratories or experimental places of exciting work that, we say to the schools here, add this to your curriculum, add these classes to the curriculum. The other thing is leadership. I think that we really need to work on developing Latinx leaders. Not just faculty members, but people that can do fundraising, people that can do community organizing, people that can make connection between church and academy.
I think about the needs of the HSP as a director of people that will help us connect with communities like women pastors, women who are working for the church as leaders, lay leaders, so that we can offer them what we already know how to do. Which is we know how to teach. We know how to educate, but we want to expand the people that we do it with. And to do that work I need partners that have those skills that can help me. But really the issue of developing leaders in our community that can go beyond just the academic is crucial. And I think that if students have, people that are listening to this have, skills in fundraising that have skills in administration, don't hide them under a bushel, let them shine that let that light shine because we need those skills.
We need people on our boards, Latinx folks that can sit on our boards that can read complicated spreadsheets and they can help us decide, they know about investing. That can help us think about it. We want to, we're trying to develop an endowment to really solidify the work that we do.
Because I think, Patrick, that what makes HSP so successful it's the fact that we understand our students. Our students walk into those classrooms and don't have to explain themselves. We know who they are. We understand them. Because that's who we are. We are a community that has accompanier we've accompanied these folks. We know them. They've been us, we are them. And I just think that to have other Latinos with other skills, in these other areas, would just create a wonderful synergy that I would like to see happen that would benefit theological education writ large, but also would help the programs that we have established so far. So I think that's something I'm paying more attention to. And for example, I've never done fundraising. We have money to do some work with a consultant on fundraising. I'm not good at asking money. But I could see how that could benefit me as a director of this program and who knows what is waiting for me along the way so that I could be useful in other ways, in addition to what I do now and the skills I have now.
Patrick: That's incredible and that's inspiring. I think the ability to learn and be flexible and adaptable and I'm going all the way back to the beginning with the bus asking for, you know, what you need to get for this program and developing skills alongside the actual financial needs for the institution building.
Daisy Machado: One of the things I learned early early on as a child I think, is that if this white person tells you no, you go to the white person that's going to tell you yes. You can't be discouraged. The Dean was very clear that he was not going to support any of my academic endeavors at that school, but the President did. So I was respectful of my Dean because he was my Dean and I worked with him. He was important, he a colleague. But the President was going to be my first point of entry to begin the conversation. So you have to strategize. And it doesn't always work, but when it does it's okay. You do it because that's the way you work with a system. See these systems, these schools, these environments were not created for us.
In many ways we continue to be seen as interlopers. And because we're interlopers…Well look at what this last president who just left the White House said about us. And many people share that view. And many people, in many places that we know, we're seen that way that we have to learn how to manipulate and use the systems in a way that not only will we succeed, but we will thrive.
And for me, it's important lately, more than ever the idea of thriving. Because thriving is much more than just publishing a book. It's just much more than getting tenure. It's much more than getting the promotion from associate to full or from assistant to associate, it's about being happy with what you do.
I am the director of the HSP and I am a faculty member, but that's not all I do. I'm much more than just this and I have friends that I can talk to and I can go to visit them. You know, the well often runs dry, but Gustavo Gutiérrez reminds us that we have to drink from our own wells.
So that means that we have to cultivate in ourselves, certain disciplines and also understandings of who we are. I think that being an historian has really helped me to see this with more clarity. I am an historical being. I don't function outside of the context of my history. I was shaped by the fact that my parents left Cuba in this particular time, that I was raised in New York City in this particular time, that I went to Texas when the Contra Wars were at the strongest. So all of those historical realities have shaped me.
Patrick: And as I think about this being in history thing, I'm curious as to how much of your own sense of vocation and your own call and doing all this work is driven by going all the way back to those diverse communities in New York who all have very complex histories, who are all historical beings, they're surrounding you and fueling you and supporting you, and how much is driven by your own sort of sense of justice and righteousness and call?
Daisy Machado: Yeah. One of the things that I was very touched by was once when I went to translate for my father, how embarrassed he was because he couldn't speak the kind of English that he wanted for that particular interview. And I remember he was so embarrassed and I felt so heartbroken for him because I thought, why should this man who's worked so hard to be a good father and to support us and has done so much for us, who came to this country with absolutely nothing, knew nobody, be so humiliated because of his accent? That just infuriated me. For me, being able to speak is so important and being able to speak and be heard. And so what that means is for me to open up opportunities for people to be heard, because I know how terrible it is not to be heard or to feel that people don't hear you. So the sense of justice, the sense of wanting to really be an advocate for those. I really believe that that even from when I was a child, I think I really learned this idea that we're very different and it's just the way it is and we need to respect that, but at the same time we need to help others to be heard.
Patrick: Dr. Machado, I'm so grateful for you and for the vocation and the many lives and live in between and you have made space and way for so many of us, myself included. I wouldn't be here without the work you've done in this field and in the world. So thank you so much for it. And thank you for sharing your journey.
Daisy Machado: Thank you for asking this is exciting and I hope that it proves even a little bit helpful to somebody. And I will say to you the best is yet to be.
Patrick: I just want to thank you for listening to Dr. Machado story. And we know that you can find inspiring stories in a lot of places in your life. And we're glad you chose to sit with us on the Sound of the Genuine. Gratitude to our design managers Elsie Barnhart and Heather Wallace. And of course @siryalibeats for his music.
Don't forget, you can get more information about the Forum for Theological Exploration and our many resources at ftleaders.org. Share this story with a friend and we’ll see you next time on the Sound of the Genuine.