Life Scribbles: My Life as an “Asian”
Yes, I’m Asian.
I’m more Asian than I sometimes recognize.
I look in the mirror and there I am. Still Asian, more specifically Korean.
No, Asia is not a country.
Yes, I’m reminded everyday that I’m “Asian” American. I hope to move beyond being identified as a sub-culture of “American” one day. Just not sure if this will ever happen. (Side Note: Who’s American anyway?)
I’ve received racist comments from both the white majority and several minority groups.
I was once asked while working at a bank by an black woman, “Why did you come to this country?” My response: “I think Asian decent here in the country goes much further back than any recent immigration history. Have you heard of American Indians (now sometimes called First Nations)? Many of them (us) were from Asia.” Was it a gracious response? No. It was probably my immaturity seeping through.
My ethnicity is also often racists to others. It’s always amazing to see how oppressive my culture has been to the Latino and black community. The general perception has been look up to the white man and hold your head up high above the other minority groups. I found the inconsistency of some of the churches I grew up (primarily Korean) that would do “missions” in Mexico and deeply love people while down there, but would not display the same kind of grace for those that lived in our own neighborhoods. (Side Note: Not all Korean churches are like this. I’m just referring to some that I have been a part of.)
At the root of all this is the resistance of humanity (both in the majority and minority groups) to embrace those who are not like “us”. Distant connections may be bearable, but the sense of “needing” others who are different is still not evident (even in the 21st century). You can see this reality in community groups, churches, organizations, conferences, etc.
Have I felt token? Yes.
Do I think it’s intentional? Absolutely not. There isn’t a conspiracy against having minorities on stage for events like conferences. It goes both ways. I’m not sure if minority groups are working to make those connections the other direction. Nevertheless, I do think there is a level of responsibility for the dominant culture to make some intentional strides. [Side Note: I do see some of this brewing in certain circles.]
I’m not asking that every activity needs to be diverse in culture and race.
I’m simply asking that we consider it for deeper reasons than meeting a quota or making everyone feel like they’re accepted. Proximity of space doesn’t necessarily mean community. Do you believe we actually need each other?
Need will cause us not only to include but to live life together.
Many thanks to those who are leading the way in this area.
Just some thoughts…