For those that know me in real life, I am an Asian American woman. I want to add my voice to what is happening because as Asian American voices are often too silent. I want to cut through the hyperbole and the media slant on what is happening out there.
I want to say there has been a very real uptick in racially charged incidents/interactions being experienced by people I do know who have personally sharing their personal pain and hurt. Incidents where they have been told to take their chink selves back to China, to go back to where you came from, we don’t want you here, to be made fun of by racist comments, and in one case actually being egged. There’s an Asian American church with swastikas and the word “die” carved on their doors. These incidents are real. They have happened. Now, many of these incidents are committed by children and teens which is disturbing because they are only repeating what is going on behind closed doors. There are some by adults like the egging. If anyone thinks I am talking about these things happening in flyover country, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, the incidents happened here in the Bay Area, in San Diego, in LA, and in Seattle.
I won’t say that this is a new thing either. I will recount a couple of incidents that happened in last couple of years. My son’s friend (Chinese) was told by another boy that I don’t like Chinese people because they are awful. Another of my son’s friends (Chinese/black) while standing next to my son was told by another boy that black people smell bad, and black people are bad. My son didn’t quite understand and was weeping because all he understood is that his friend was made to feel bad. These two boys went through a long period of time where they hated who they were because they got the message that somehow being Chinese or being black was bad. Think that this couldn’t possibly happen in Christian circles? Sorry to say that the first incident happened at a Christian home school group here in San Diego. The second incident happened at my own church. And there were no apologies by these families either.
I believe anyone who thinks that we live in a post-racial society just because we elected Obama is sadly mistaken. I actually may be in the minority among minorities about this, but I actually vastly prefer that these overt acts of racist behavior are happening because it shows what really lies beneath. It creates a place to have a discussion. There are opportunities for white people especially white Christians to speak up, intervene, listen and choose to do something. To me, I think that living in a bubble thinking that racism must not be there because these things don’t happen anymore is just not true. Thinking that racist attitudes and behaviors aren’t there because there haven’t been overt incidents in the past is false as well because the covert attitudes have always been there.
No, I don’t believe that the vast majority of white people are racist. I do believe that a lot of white people don’t realize how common these experiences are. I also don’t think the vast majority of white people realize that for a person of color, you live this every day. I also don’t think that there are enough Christians and conservatives calling it out and naming it. I am also naming another truth to my minority friends that minorities can also be racist against other minorities and yes, against white people. This happens all the time, but somehow minorities get a free pass on this all the time. However, in our politically and racially charged environment, only people of color are permitted to call other people of color to account.
When I was growing up in California, I have been pelted with dirt and rocks because I look Japanese on Pearl Harbor Day. I have been subject to “ching-chong Chinaman” type chants. I have had many use their fingers to pull down their eyelids to make squinty eyes at me. I actually have been hit and physically attacked in junior high. I have had other students flat out angry and pissed off at me when I won scholarships and awards. I lost friends (but were they really my friend?) who felt I got too many because I was Chinese, and it just wasn’t fair…that somehow I stole what was rightly theirs to have. I’ve been told to go home to where I came from even though my family has been here for 5 generations. My great great grandfather worked on the railroads. My great grandfather fought in WWII for the United States. I have had to live through being insulted and judged over and over because of the color of my skin. It happens. It’s my story. It’s my reality. It’s my life.
I am a Christian, Chinese-American and a conservative. I don’t care who you voted for because my belief is that people have reasons for their vote that have nothing to do with identity politics. It’s your freedom to choose. I don’t judge you for that nor do I want to be judged for who I choose to vote for. It’s not about Trump or Clinton. Conservatives too often allow discussion around racism to be dominated and driven by liberals. Liberals don’t own this. Remember, Republicans are the party of Lincoln. Nixon was the one to push the Civil Right Acts through Congress. This is part of our history and tradition. It doesn’t have to be the way it is now. We have a voice in this. I really don’t have a political agenda here. I just want to people to see that conservative does not equal racist or whatever other label. If you dismiss all conservatives as “other” and unworthy, then how is that any better? We are all individuals and should see each other that way. Isn’t that what we should do? Try to aspire to be like MLK Jr who said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
I am just speaking the truth to whoever has ears to listen. I recognize that I am raising my son in a world that is imperfect and flawed, but I do always have hope because the power of God can change the hearts of man. Sin and brokenness is part of humanity. Forgiveness is part of being a Christian. Justice for the powerless is also part of being a Christian. God can redeem anything. God can transform what is broken into wholeness. I believe that to my core. I also believe that if you are not part of the solution that you are part of the problem. So, choose today what you will do. Choose to engage. Choose to talk to your children. Choose to help your children to choose to speak out against injustice. They see more than you think that they do. Above all, pray.
ETA: I am greatly encouraged by this call to prayer by my former home church.
Pastor Ryan’s words reminded me of these wise words: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.” – Abraham Lincoln