Why do you think racial reconciliation is important for someone of faith? Why do you think it’s important for Christians to concern themselves in racial reconciliation? How does your faith impact your passion and desire for reform?
Throughout the New Testament, writers stated the end goal, the final purpose of the church is the reunification of the Church and Christ. In this reunification or reconciliation, we see “all nations, all tribes, and all tongues” coming together in faithful unity and in fellowship. This is one of the big reasons as to why someone of faith should seek out racial reconciliation.
Another, simpler but more important, is Jesus’ second greatest commandment: “to love your neighbor as yourself.” As people of faith and followers of Christ, this should be an active responsibility that we take on every day. Not only should our actions be intentional, but we should also embrace humility. For example, even if we did not intend to hurt someone by commenting on their culture, it may be taken as offensive and racist. Thus, if we truly embraced humility, we can use this situation to grow and to learn our mistakes. We could find ways in which our intentions may be properly carried out. When we love our neighbors, it’s important to carry a loving heart to serve others, and it is just as significant that our actions match that heart.
This is all to say that it is critically important that Christians stand against injustice. Time and time again in Scripture, we see God’s judgement on corrupted kings, slave-owning societies, mass-murderers, and rapists. This is rooted in both social justice and faithfulness to God as these are crimes against His people and creation. It only makes sense for people of faith to stand against injustice, against racism, against police brutality since they hurt, they bring pain, they destroy lives. Racial reconciliation is the stride we should take on and have as our goal. As we begin to see change, we should also recognize the brokenness that may have stemmed from racism or is separate from it and seek reform in those areas as well.
My faith is this: I love God and Christ, and I believe that He is doing a good work within us. We bear the image of God in each of us. When people begin to hurt others, we must stand with those who are hurting and suffering. That is our good work. That may not be the entirety of the work, but it is a grand part of it.
As an Asian woman in America, what has been your experience with racism?
My experience with racism as an Asian American has been hard to define. I don’t necessarily remember direct micro-aggressions except for a few instances, but I do remember uncomfortable situations.
For starters, my experience is due in part to the fact that I grew up in North Texas in a prominent white-majority school. This was juxtaposed to my church upbringing in a fairly large Korean community located where I grew up. So, my childhood always flip-flopped between feeling like a minority at school to not having that burden over me at church or in Koreatown. Although this may seem to show that there was diversity in my childhood, I felt like it hurt my identity as a person. Was I a Korean or a Korean American or just simply an American? Do I embrace my Korean heritage or hide it in hopes to appeal to the majority at school?
It felt like I was playing a tug-of-war of Korean v. American identity growing up. (Though I knew of many peers who embraced one or the other early on). And, looking back, I feel like if those spheres weren’t so limiting, so divided, it would have been easier to grasp the fact that I am both and must embrace both.
Beyond that, however, my experience with more of a forthright racism goes along with the stereotypes involving Asians. I cannot count how many times I have been asked if I eat dogs or if I was from North Korea. Sometimes the shapes of my eyes—or more of the size—was put into question, albeit in a joking manner. I remember consciously thinking of what I ate at school and what my mom packed for lunch. Does it smell? Do I have to explain my rice? Do I eat it nonchalantly or do I express disgust like them? (Thankfully I love all kinds of foods, so I was not ashamed about my food for the majority of my time in a school cafeteria). I was sometimes the “token-Asian” friend, where I was labeled as the “coolest Korean I know” by many of my friends. And there were many moments where I questioned my intelligence and if it was something I earned with hard work or if it’s something that should have been natural for me.
One thing I did appreciate, though, was that my friends were open to learn about Korean culture or history when I provided background information. Some were eager to be taught how to spell their name in Korean and such. Those were the times when I could feel pride for being Korean.
Nevertheless, the greatest form of micro-aggression that I have faced is the feeling of uncomfortableness when entering into a public space—school, malls, conferences, competitions, restaurants. Not that I was disgusted or repulsed, but I was rather intimidated. I felt like I stood out and should not show that I was in any way different from them in fear of being called out or isolated. That kind of overwhelming feeling of inferiority was mere reality for me growing up.
By now, I have embraced my heritage and my own identity that doesn’t necessarily depend on whatever micro-aggressions I faced in the past. The feeling of inferiority never truly went away, but I began to ask myself why I should feel that way. Although it is difficult to ignore the diversity around me since we have become hyper-aware of the systematic racism, I can draw strength from my personal faith to overcome ill feelings and uncomfortableness. We were made in His image and were called to love on our neighbors. Therefore, we should seek peace and justice in the face of racism.
Through Covid-19, how did you feel racism towards Asians change, or become highlighted?
First off, it’s hard not to associate Covid-19 with China since the news and media heavily broadcasted the two as synonymous. But with it came a generalization of Asians and our culture. People are wary, and in some psychological way, have a reason to be wary since the news of Covid-19 was really tied down to China. This fact doesn’t make people’s reactions any less racist, but I can understand in some way why they were feeling such surface level emotions. It is disappointing and frustrating that some people blame the pandemic onto Asians and act in this manner.
In terms of how racism towards Asians have become highlighted is the apparent micro-aggressions that came out. I would get more looks when I jogged in my neighborhood and when I picked up groceries at the store. But it wasn’t just the looks. Some people would sneer. Some would defiantly stand in my way or make a big show to avoid my path. I would become self-conscious that I was Asian in public. Not that I was an Asian-American, but that I was merely from an Asian heritage. If people said unkind words, I wouldn’t know as I jammed out to music whenever I was out in public in order to ignore the stares.
Perhaps the biggest change, from my experience and perspective, has been towards Asian-owned businesses. People stopped patronizing Asian restaurants even after quarantine was lifted. In fact, a Facebook group in Dallas started solely to promote fellow Asians supporting other Asian businesses as they were teetering to remain open. A lot more solidarity has grown within the Asian community because of this time.
What do you think the Asian response/role is as we have seen the Black Lives Matter movement grow and become a topic?
I think that the Asian’s role in responding to the Black Lives Matter movement is to stand in solidarity with our fellow brothers and sisters of color. Although the majority of Asians may not experience brutal racism and not capable of fully understanding that experience, we should empower each other—both Asians and non-Asians—to stand up to injustice.
In my humble opinion, I do believe that Asians have received more grace in terms of racism than other POC. The micro-aggressions are more subtle, and it seems to me that we have more fluidity in taking control of our future and identity. Therefore, in the positions and professions that we have been able to penetrate, we should advocate for the justice of all POC.
I by no means am belittling the micro-aggressions and racism that Asians have had to face and am not disregarding personal experiences that individuals may have. Rather, those experiences should push us to stand against racism and injustice since we can understand POC.
We shouldn’t remain silent nor should we try to divert the attention to ourselves, like I’ve seen some people who have been disillusioned do. Like the motto states, “All lives matter once Black Lives Matter.” The root of the problem is much deeper than we can imagine, so let’s start by unearthing that root before we rebuild/reform what followed it.
In an ideal world where there were no obstacles (money, ideological, etc) and you could create your heart’s desire, what would the world look like?
People appreciate and respect others no matter their skin color, their social background, their gender identity, their religious affiliations.
Police, education, healthcare, social work would be reformed. The government would be the leaders for advocating and maintaining those structures.
Politics would truly be of the people. Corruption would be no more. Public leaders would be transparent of their goals and methods.
If you wanted the people reading this to walk away with just one thought, what would you want it to be?
The ends don’t really justify the means, so let’s work on those means. Let’s grind those processes out and work through them. Let’s consciously seek the potential in patience and wisdom.
Even if it takes a hot minute to get these things done, which it will, let’s not stop in the process of reformation. Let’s appreciate what we can learn from each other and from the work that we’re doing and grow from it. Let’s endure and rebuild.