Sherine Green’s journey ‘bridges’ immigration and racial equality in America

Born in Jamaica, Sherine Green navigated a path of adversity and multiculturalism to find inclusion and belonging in the U.S.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/castillelee/" target="_self">Castille Lee</a>

Castille Lee

November 21, 2023

Sherine Green, 40, reimagines her life as a “bridge” to different cultural backgrounds. Her current occupation is a Theology professor at Villanova University and a director of Youth Faith Formation. In 2021, Green wrote “Awakening to the Violence of Systemic Racism,” highlighting government abuse towards the daily lives of Black American people.

Green’s passion focuses on diversity, equality, inclusivity, and belonging. Belonging, according to Green, was the most impactful because she wants to ensure that she is constantly listening and bringing inclusiveness in the classroom.

Green was born in Jamaica, and her deeply ingrained identity reflects her ancestry. Green has a diverse ancestry that goes back to Black enslaved people who worked in sugar cane fields, Chinese indentured servants, and ancestors that arrived in Jamaica from India in the 1800s.

“[In Jamaica], everyone depended on each other and took care of the people, such as my neighbor who was my mentor and teacher. There are lots of connections towards the church and the community,” Green said.

Similar to many immigrants, taking advantage and “seizing the opportunity” to pursue higher education and learning was crucial in achieving the American dream. However, there was an expense to earn a higher degree of learning that Green learned to overcome. Green pushed for an undergraduate and graduate college education in Jamaica under an archdiocese.

“My entire life I wanted to be here. Hollywood depicted glitz and glamour in TV shows. I saw manicured lawns, studying, and buying homes. At 23 years old, I was determined to find every opportunity,” Green said.

Green continued her journey of discovering various cultures by staying in Northern Ireland in 2005.

“Twelve shades of green would be the best way to describe Ireland, with castles and festivals that are unique to the country. The people were very kind and willing to open themselves to where we [Jamaican students] came from,” according to Green.

One year later, Green immigrated to the United States with the ambition to find job opportunities and become a permanent resident. With her passion for theology and religion, Green strongly desired to find a job to achieve her dreams. Fortunately, Green obtained a visa for three years, which represented her first step towards “seizing the opportunity.” “Working $100 per hour in New York was rough,” Green remarks, “but I just had to live here.”

As for the challenge of immigrating to America, language was not an issue. However, understanding the cultural context of America was difficult. The complexities of American politics and stereotypes of glitz-and-glamour were out of the norm compared to the ideologies found on TV. Green arrived in Camden, New Jersey, an area at the time that was poor and underdeveloped.

A few years later, Green moved to Manhattan, New York, in an attempt to understand the sociocultural aspects of American industrious society. Green was associated with the Sisters of Mercy during her stay in New York, a religious organization that provided housing and food during her one-year stay in the U.S. Green moved to Camden, New Jersey, an area at the time was poor and underdeveloped.

The sociocultural aspects of moving from Camden to New York, according to Green, include differences poor versus rich, suburban kids versus urban kids, and rural versus urban poverty. The fast-paced aspect and dynamics of New York were difficult to adjust to and their way of life.

“A culture shock is the best way to describe the drastic contrast between Jamaica and America,” Green mentions.

However, just like many immigrants, Green faced the challenge of discrimination. While being the only person of color in her workplace, Green experienced a verbal attack while praying for the woman. The woman believed she was against Blue Lives Matter, and her anxiety heightened as she was “genuinely afraid” of working in America. Startled by this event, Green continued to persist in loving and praying for the people inside her community.

Nevertheless, Green’s curiosity about American culture manifests in her desire to discover the stories that reshape our perspectives of one another.

“When you think of America, it is a place where a majority of people come from somewhere else. We must share their stories that embody love, liberty, and hope. I think that is the story we often miss. The government seems to highlight there is no “Black America” or “white America,” but we are people on a journey. If we understand this, the government is a reflection of the people. I think this will help us be more civil and take away the fear while reshaping our philosophies,” Green claims.

Liberating others through the process of storytelling enlightens others to understand the struggles of immigrants. Learning the challenges of one’s struggle and appreciating the journey of an individual reminds us to remain open.

“For every vision, there is provision,” Green said.