BY TASHA BURGOYNE
Tasha is a Grace attender. She's 100% American and 100% Asian and she has something to tell the world. If you missed Part 1 of her blog, moving-towards-different-part-1.htmlread it here.
I have been told that I should just let little things go when it comes to racist remarks or incidents. People have said “most aren’t that way,” or, “they didn't really mean it like that,” as a way to brush off seemingly little offenses. I have tried those responses and I wish they worked. They don’t work. Brushing things off in order to avoid the hard work of reconciliation feeds and waters the thick, growing weed of racism.
A “good” kid made slanted eye faces at me when I was little, and an entire generation later, my 2nd grader tells me that this has happened on his elementary school playground. I am not sure what hurts me more: my personal memories of a classmate pulling the corners of his eyelids back and laughing, or hearing that my son has experienced the same thing. I have heard careless comments about the foods I grew up eating, foods that come with the stories of my mother’s upbringing and culture. I've watched people turn their noses up in disgust at particular Asian foods until it became trendy; those same people later ended up in watered-down ""ethnic"" restaurants taking selfies, while remaining blind to and unapologetic for their duplicity. I have tried to understand how white (and Christian) friends can laugh while watching A Christmas Story and claim it to be their favorite Christmas movie, when it has a deliberately racist scene in it. I was introduced to this movie at a church youth group gathering of all places. Did you know that the Asian actors in the Chinese restaurant scene didn’t even know they would be singing mispronounced Christmas carols? Asian Americans are not a comedic prop for the larger majority of Americans.
It wouldn’t be right if I just listed the racism I have experienced from the majority white culture. Other Asian Americans have told me that I’m not a real Asian. I’ve been uninvited by a group of Korean Americans because I couldn’t speak Korean. And beyond our country’s borders, I have seen racism between a lot of different colors. In Asia, I have been told that I am too dark-skinned to be Asian. And when I was 7 years old, my sister and I were spit on by a group of teenage boys on a sidewalk in Seoul, because we were mixed.
Facing Racism and Choosing Reconciliation
Racism is everywhere. Even in me. I have seen it in my own thoughts, in my silence, in my reasons and in my own words. Until you and I are willing to face and admit our part in keeping racism alive, it will continue to linger and lay under the surface in our hearts, families, communities, churches and future. Do not believe the lie that racism can be covered up or contained. Do not believe that by segregating ourselves, we will stay safe and keep our hearts sanitized from the sin of racism.
As a Christ-follower, ignoring and avoiding the broken place of racism isn’t an option. As an American mother, I refuse to model silence, fear and separation. I intend to make it a priority to teach my sons what it means to stand up against racism and move towards reconciliation. As an adoptive mother, I refuse to raise my Korean daughter with the marching orders to assimilate and keep the majority or minority boat from rocking. I intend to teach her to celebrate and move towards the different in her own identity and in the world. As the daughter of a white man and wife of another white man, I will not encourage reverse racism as an acceptable or better form of racism. As a follower of Jesus, I am committed to move towards the different because Jesus modeled this. Not only did Jesus choose a minority and oppressed people to be born into and live among, He consistently moved towards different in his day. He has promised that he is preparing a place for His people: a global and colorful people of every nation, tribe, and language. If God wanted us to be colorblind, he wouldn't have created the visible beauty and diversity of color among us. He made us to notice our racial differences, celebrate our racial differences, see and worship Him TOGETHER in those differences.
I will be writing more on this topic in the coming weeks and specifically about ways we can all move towards what’s different and move towards reconciliation. Will you join me? Will you add to this conversation? Will you come with an open, honest, humble heart, and listen?