My newest book review is for Rich Perez’s book, Mi Casa Uptown: Learning to Love Again. In his book, Perez reminisces about his childhood in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York, and he expresses concerns about raising his own family now in NYC. His main concern is that cities are not friendly toward family life, and often when members of a different culture move into a city for the sake of “bettering” the area, they wind up eradicating the traditions and identity of the culture that was first there. He makes the point that while areas like his Hispanic hometown community of Washington Heights are happy to have white people move in, they want them to meld with their culture, rather than try to make it like the white culture. Perez eloquently says, “Inner-city neighborhoods don’t need the dominant culture to act as our father, we need them to act as our friends. We need partnership, not paternalism.”
Perez and his family started a church in Washington Heights as a step toward making inner city life better for families, and their guiding philosophy is, “Plant roots, make homes, build families, love neighbors, trust Jesus, and die well.” Each of those actions serve as individual chapters in his book, and Perez fully explains this philosophy through personal stories and Scripture in each chapter.
Having lived in the suburbs all of my life, it was fascinating to read about inner city life. And since I have served as a short-term missionary, it was eye-opening to consider whether my own actions were meant to accentuate rather than dominate another culture. I appreciated Perez’s point that we must love and take pride in our cities, because if we don’t we simply cannot be a good neighbor to the others who reside there. We must be actively involved in our neighborhoods to embrace diversity and to share the love of Christ.
How we handle diversity is such a relevant topic today, and Perez makes many interesting points. If you decide to read this book, share your thoughts in the comments section. I would love to hear what you think.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes and the opinions I have expressed in my review are entirely my own.