Good Friday Racism

We were on a rather wide and fairly remote bike trail. Our older daughter was sleeping in our jogging stroller, the younger in the baby sling on my chest. The wheel of our stroller had just broken off, and so we were trying to somehow manage with two wheels- slowly weaving our way back home, stopping every so often to rest, figure out this tire, and redirect our course.

We had stopped, trying to figure out this tire when all of a sudden:

“One way, this is a one way road!” an irate biker coming toward us yelled. (It was not a one way road)

“Get out of the way! This isn’t Japan!” he hollered as he zipped past us with his female biking companion. He continued his complaint as he rode away.

I was simply stunned. Actually, I was laughing out loud as he said that- I just couldn’t believe it. Here, in my supposedly educated and progressive corner of the US, my family and I were getting our first dose of racist hate.

Now I know racism is still a reality in our country, even in the world of Christianity- some recent blogs and articles have discussed this (make sure you read them- they’re pretty sad). And I know all of us are racist somehow (hopefully we’re getting it out of us as Jesus followers, surely but slowly). I guess I just haven’t been a recipient in a while.

My thoughts, however, turned to the fact that it was Good Friday as I struggled with how to respond and feel. What would Jesus do? My wife was ready to give the biker a stick in the spokes and watch him flip. Obviously, that wasn’t the right answer. But not doing anything?

Then it hit me. Jesus didn’t walk away from those that accused him before his death; he didn’t “not do anything.” He faced them… but with silence.

I began to picture myself back at the parking lot with the biker there, still yelling at us. And I pictured myself walking up to him, and just looking at him, looking deep in his eyes, not saying a word. Perhaps he’d be yelling still, or perhaps he’d start threatening me. But I would just look, hopefully with Jesus’ eyes- full of compassion, yet full of strength.

And I pray the message would be communicated- you cannot demean me or my people. And you are in need of grace.

Ah Good Friday… Thank you Jesus for your grace.

(by the way, I’m not Japanese. I’m Chinese. Just in case you were wondering.)

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14 Comments»

  belisariusca wrote @

Response no. 1: I’m with your wife, Yen. I, as a Caucasian-Hispanic-American, would have chased that jerk down, planted the stick in the spokes, laughed as he went down, then proceeded to have tae kwon do practice on his face for good measure. I would have parted with the words of Paul paraphrased: “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord, and I have become his instrument.” Then I would have prayed for, and received, forgiveness from God (isn’t He nice?) right in front of the guy. In the words of Kenneth Copeland, “Sometimes it’s easier to get forgiveness than to get permission.” And if he decides to incredibly blame me for rejecting God by calling me a hypocrite, I would have no remorse, but would tell him, “Yeah, but I’m a hypocrite in heaven, firewood!”

Reaction No. 2: Having stated the stern measures I would take with “one of my own”, I strongly disagree with the notion that all of us are racist, it just seems to be another case of people looking to prolong an issue in order to get attention, or power. I refer to the teaching which you have just expressed–in reference to the leftists who no doubt created it to maintain an issue and keep power for themselves (Jessie Jackson is a particularly egregious example of such demogoguery.). A single race joke done in private does not a racist make. Neither is someone who points out issues in leadership of a Christian community of another race. I read the two blogs, I refer to those who objected to Rosa Parks speaking at a Christian event. Frankly, with her political background, I would have had problems. But it would be with her ideology, not with her skin color. I feel that those who drag out every perceived racial slight within a church, business, or other group are doing a disservice to those who are real victims of naked racism–mistreatment based on ignorance or arrogance, which is when simple acknowledgement of racial or cultural differences becomes racism.

I think that the problem that so many Caucasian believers have with those who keep pounding the drum on racism is that the drummers always seem to want to bundle the cause of racial equality with some other things, such as neo-Marxism, such as in the case of a mutual acquaintance of ours, or the desire to dismantle America as a leading power, and potentially a force for good in the world. The separation of this linkage would probably go very far to resolving the problem of race with many of us fair-minded Caucasian American Christians.

Still, the recent attitudes exhibited toward immigration by many American Christians, as well as apathy on the part of things like sex slave trade, Darfur, etc., made me see that there is a “racist dark underbelly” in the church. And that, frankly, has pissed me off! In all humility, sometimes God does speak to me, and what I have heard lately is not nice.

We, as Americans and as Christians, are trying to go on with business as usual, hoping the present war with Iraq-Afghanistan would go away. And we are asleep, while, like the 1930s, a monstrous evil storm is gathering, one that will pull us into a war like no other. And, unlike other conflicts that could have been avoided, this is certain to happen. It will fit in God’s prophetic plan. And, instead of getting God’s house in order to prepare for this storm, Christians are busy fighting among ourselves, and showing the very ungodly attitudes that get a nation set up ripe for judgment. And hating those who are different from us because their skin color is different, or because they are impoverished is almost as prime a way to set ourselves up for God’s judgment as that of sexual immorality and especially that of abortion (Yes, I said almost. Murder is still worse).

Well, this rant is over, but I did want to tell you that you, Yen, Enna, and the baby have my best regards for this Easter.

Christos anesti!—alethos anesti!

  Johnny Laird wrote @

Your Good Friday story drew me into your blog, Yucan.

I’ll keep visiting.

Peace & Blessings, bro’.

J

  T.J. wrote @

Wow. I’m sorry to hear this Yucan. And it is tragic to undertand and realize that we are all human, with our own huge mistakes and flaws, and really with our own racist tendencies that we all struggle with.

Thanks for being open minded and open hearted about this whole experience, and for neither taking the advice of your wife, or of the other gentleman who saw fit to post on your blog.

I hope things aren’t too tiresome in Palo Alto, and I hope that there is some comfort and a little bit of joy that may come while you’re there.

Floyd, I am neither ineterested nor desirous of having a greater discussion with you on this subject or many others. However, I will simply, respectfully say that I don’t very much find myself in agreement with this statement:
“I strongly disagree with the notion that all of us are racist, it just seems to be another case of people looking to prolong an issue in order to get attention, or power”

And I would say that that statement speaks volumes about one’s own position of power in a still-racist society and really the lack of insight into one’s own racial privilege in contemporary America. Racism or the rightful discussion of it, is not simply a case of a disaffected and querrulous group seeking more attention, and it is somewhat condescending to even couch such a discussion in that phrasing. But I will simply stop there.

Vaya con dios.

  elderj wrote @

Hmph! I simply want to laugh as I read about the angry biker. On the one hand it isn’t at all funny, but on the other it simply strikes me as comical in an ironic pathetic kind of way. I feel for this guy and if I had been there would have wanted to throw the stick at his head, fear of being the “angry Black man” would have constrained me more (regrettably) than the love of Christ.

The response you suggest: simply looking at the man, is a powerful one. Perhaps we need more of that kind of power in our world.

As for your commentator… I don’t know that he quite understands just how deep this principality of racial pride goes in the American psyche. Racism isn’t just “sin,” nor is it just the result of social conditions or the bad choices of individuals. It is an insidious evil that is much larger than any one person or institution amnd which has been the bane of America’s (and other) nations shared life for hundreds of years. It is in the very air we breathe and the enemy would like nothing more than for Christians to forget his sinister hand behind the curtain.

  Belisarius wrote @

I was under the impression that direct personal attack or criticism was somehow forbidden on this blog, which is why I have on no less than three occasions was forced to modify blog posts by the moderator. Frankly, on each of them the direct criticisms were even milder than what I received by both TJ and elderj, especially the former. Not to mention the complete blocking of a post by Gail a few months ago containing firm but factual criticism of doctrinal incorrectness concerning Jews and Muslims on the part of some members at Ethnos. Oh, but alas, my sin is that I am both older and more conservative, and therefore saddled with the (mis)conception that I am therefore more powerful in American society, due to the color of my skin, and my political affiliation. Ah, yes, as Nicole Kidman quipped in the movie ‘The Interpreter’, “the politics of my skin.’ My bank account is just so overflowing with wealth made from the backs of people of color, and my networking contacts are just so plentiful that I should feel so ashamed to have them—I should share, share, share. Or perhaps give the government more bureaucratic power to help themselves to more of my income and property to lavish on more ineptly-run socialist redistributionist programs—85% of which seem to only get into the pockets of the bureaucrats possessing government employees union protections, while the poor–of all races, still are powerless, hopeless, disillusioned, and the first to face the equally brutal face of crime and gangsterism.

First, it is incredibly disingenous to accuse someone of being insensitive to the issue of race in America who had just declared that someone who had displayed raw, naked racism should be physically punished. Secondly, I was quick to point out my recognition of America’s dark underbelly, that is, a segment of our population that does indeed think they have permission to engage in mistreatment of people based upon race.

What I also did, which seems to engender the disapproval of the other two commenters, is point out that racism’s demogogues exist on all sides. The events of recent days serve as abundant testimony of that fact, and the fact that the misuse of power, which makes racism so dangerous, is now being misused more by black and minority leadership than that of whites. If not for the actions of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (two more despicable individuals have not appeared in American public life), whipping up rage and bloodlust in Durham, NC, the Duke lacrosse team would have continued to play, and the three young defendants would certainly have never been charged of a crime they did not commit, the proof of such exoneration of which was in the hands of the prosecutor at the very time that Jackson and Sharpton were engaged in calling for these young men’s scalps, precisely because they were young, handsome, and from rich white families in an elite university.

But now that these young men have been totally exonerated, where is Jackson and Sharpton, and the black radio personalities who expressed a desire to put these ‘white boys in the basement of state prison with big, black men”, where are they now? Apologizing to those whose reputations were ruined? No, they’re busy expressing their feigned outrage at the “devastation” done to the Rutgers women basketballers by Don Imus. Such “devastation”. They get press conferences, appearances on Oprah and network TV, and of course, the wicked Mr. Imus goes before the world, jobless and disgraced, and apologizes to their faces, giving them the opportunity to look so very noble and tragic in their offendedness.

The point is, whether done by Tom Tancredo or Michael Savage, or by Messrs. Jackson and Sharpton, racism and its bundling with power, is a sin translated as an evil, to be dealt with properly by a society which for the most part, does not approve of their actions. And that is indeed my point. Institutional racism is mistreatment of people by society’s major institutions as a matter of POLICY. That has been eliminated by the civil rights laws of the 1960s. The large majority of people in this country long ago stopped with overt mistreatment of individuals of color. I will say again, the occasional racial joke or verbal reference does not a racist make. Mistreatment—the abuse of power over another–isn’t powerlessness a big part of the discussion of race?–does, especially when engaged in repeatedly as part of a pattern of abuse. A white church is not institutionally racist if it is located in a farm community in Iowa that is 96% white, unless it intentionally bars any members of the 4%. A black church, Hispanic, Asian, all the same.

What we have in America, as well as Sudan (remember Darfur?), in India (remember the Dalits?), in Europe (Muslim treatment of Europeans in their own land), in South America (ask any Peruvian Inca or Mexican Quechua), in Palestine and the Muslim madrassahs, is a universal sin, not something germane to America. Frankly, the fact that we have a land that is not engaged in open race war is the real news story in a world where bloodshed based on race and religion is regular practice.

And frankly, the simmering anger just beneath the surface, referred to by elderj, would not be so intense, as I have said before, if not for the demogogues among us. If the black and Latino communities gave more power and deference to the likes of Barack Obama and Colin Powell and less to the likes of Jackson and Sharpton, there would be a much greater desire on the part of white Americans, especially white Christians, to stretch out the hand of racial friendship. The black communities of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland had a huge opportunity to build a bridge last fall, when no less than 3 African-American men were the Republican nominees for governor and U.S. Senate, gladly nominated by white conservative voters, with programs to seriously deal with the black-white divide. I read some of the articles written by Michael Steele, Lynn Swann, and Ken Blackwell. Where were the black voters then? Staying with the same people who fostered the programs and attitudes that perpetuated the dependency and socio-economic-educational stagnation of the last 50 years.

When I hear comments to the effect that Christians are forgetting racism’s ‘sinister hand behind the curtain’, I hear “white Christians” in that criticism. I would maintain that much of that forgetfulness is done by Christians of color who seem willing to elect, even to invite to their pulpits, men and women of power who support policies and practices that these very church pastors condemn as sin. I routinely hear T.D. Jakes and Creflo Dollar (my two favorite black pastors) condemn abortion and homosexuality. I sat under Bishop George McKinney for two years here in San Diego, and I never heard a pro-death or pro-gay word out of his mouth. Yet I watch their parishoners walk out and vote for politicians who support the destruction of both the unborn and of the sanctity of marriage. You may cynically believe that white Christian Americans would be unresponsive if black Christian Americans voted for the same people for office, but I don’t. I believe that a revolution of reconciliation would occur.

I wish that this conversation could be on a much more pleasant topic, but it unfortunately goes to some issues that lie at the bottom of why Gail and I attend elsewhere. TJ, you once accused me of being a man who operates with absolute certainty of his opinions and will not change until clearly proven wrong. You are right, and I have no intention of changing. I don’t take opinions unless I intend to hold them as true convictions, so yes, without apology, I place the burden of proof against those who would attempt to debunk my cherished convictions. In the words of Winston Churchill, “I do not intend to open my mind so wide that I lose my brains.” A little moral certainty is, I think, imperative for a Christian who lives in this wicked, immoral age.

And to you Elderj, I would maintain that racism, with all its evil, is a sin that is matched and exceeded by yet another far more dangerous sin, which seems to infect the Christian left. That sin is Humanism, the rejection of God. A Christian version of it pervades too many who are young in the church these days, and Satan will gain far more casualties with that in the last days. Every young Christian who believes that his faith can be syncretized with evolution, with socialist-Marxism, with liberation theology, with extreme environmentalism, with libertinism in connection with homosexuality, with feminism justifying abortion, or that his/her faith must reject patriotism (where’s that passage where Jesus said we’re to be salt and light?); all of those things are evidence of a dangerous and creeping evil, which must be combated. And in my small way, I will.

(By the way, on ‘What would Jesus do?” with the racist biker, silent confrontation would have been met with loud mockery and abuse, whereas the whip marks on the backs of some of the moneychangers and swindlers in the temple would have shown a different kind of Jesus. Hey, everybody, Jesus started a riot that day—one that would have made Malcolm X–or the Sons of Liberty in 1775, quite proud indeed. And as a last smackdown to the little punk, I would have grabbed him by the collar, looked in his baby blue eyes, his head covered with blond hair, and I would have said, “By the way, punk, I’m an American, and I belong here more than you! So watch your mouth, or I’ll send you back by slow boat back to your ancestral home—north of the Arctic Circle!).

“Occasionally the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots….and of tyrants.”….Samuel Adams

  Kelly G. wrote @

That’s terrible! I’m kind of glad Enna and Ennyn are too little to really understand that. How ignorant.

Once I was with my family in Virginia and we were at a little convenience-store type place and for some reason (I forget why) my parents were in line separately, and in between them was a Black man. The cashier, who was white, was extraordinarily rude to the Black man, was all smiles and courtesy to my father (who’s white), and was rather cold and condescending to my mother (who’s Chinese). It wasn’t even that big a thing in the sense that immediately afterward we could leave (and, I mean, if that’s the most I pesronally ever experience of racism I’ll feel really lucky, since I know for so many people it’s so much worse, and I think in California/particularly the Bay Area it’s not something we have to deal with first-hand as often), but it was still really upsetting and really degrading. What the guy said to you was really stupid, and also unaccepable. And that’s really discouraging to know that someone who lives in California and presumably has a lot of exposure to people of different ethnicities would say that. Sad.

I think you had a really great point about responding with grace. A few years ago when I read Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace?”, the parts where he talked about racism and how people responded to it were really powerful to me, and I think the most incredible stories were the ones where people’s attitudes were changed because of grace.

Hope everything’s going okay in Palo Alto! We’re praying for you.

  sanjung wrote @

Wow Guh. That’s sad. But it happens.

I remember racial slurs at Whittier Christian. It didn’t happen to you? I kind of embraced it, and then they couldn’t do any more to hurt me verbally. Well, first of all, I didn’t know they were making fun of me, so it didn’t matter at the time. Looking back, I think it was hurtful, but God gave me the grace to not understand . . . until later.

At UCLA, I linked arms with my roommate and we were walking up Bruin walk and someone made a lesbian slur. It was quite funny. My roommate and I are good friends, she’s Korean, and Korean people are close like that. To be called lesbians though? That was hurtful. I am not a lesbian.

  yucan wrote @

Thanks all for your comments, stories, and sympathy. It’s encouraging to hear.

In regard to the recent comments concerning how this site is monitored, brought up by Floyd (I think everyone should know this who plans on posting on this site, not just Floyd):
Floyd, you are correct that this site as well as the Ethnos church site is monitored for disprespectful, degrading, and personal attacks on individuals. I apologize that you felt the comments directed toward you were in this category. I hope you can work things out with those individuals. However, I have let them stay given: 1) some of your comments/exchanges as of late that that have seemed disrespectful which I have not taken out (eg- your comments to Chiafrica on Muliculturalism, Multigenerationalism and Justice)- I think this is thus fair to allow for some discussion on perhaps a more “heated” level, to a certain extent, and 2) I do think they were debating/”attacking” more your ideas than you as a person.

I do think you bring some good points, along with the rest of the group, so thank you for posting.

  T.J. wrote @

That final quote is from Thomas Jefferson, not Samuel Adams.

  Belisarius wrote @

Thank you for the small correction. My history is excellent, not perfect. I have always gotten those names transposed on that quote. Mr. Jefferson’s words, as it turns out, have always been a favorite of mine, as almost all of his other words were as well. As Nicolas Cage said in “National Treasure”, “People don’t talk that way anymore,…but they feel that way.” The Founders words and actions are inspirational examples to follow, TJ, not failures to shun. America is still the greatest nation, in spite of its faults, and worthy of your love, and loyalty. Racism is not unique to America, nor even to the point of particular notability, save to the degree we have sought to eradicate it. We are a great nation, filled with sinners which sometimes expresses itself with racial hatred on the part of a minority of people. That is the fact. That does not make us a racist nation. You may go to any one of a number of other nations to see that condition (India comes to mind, or any nation where Islam is in control).

I conclude my contribution to this discussion with another beloved quotation, which I believe you would recognize, “We have created the most ineffectual government known to man, save for all others.”

Adios.

  kelly wrote @

wow.

a lot of interesting commentary here. not much of my own to say, so i’ll leave it at the following, from someone wiser than i:

James 3:9-12
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

James 3:17-18
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

  Jerry wrote @

sorry to hear about this, bro. in light of the anti-asian sentiment after the v.a. tech massacre, i couldn’t help but think of what happened to you. is ethnos going to have a conversation about these issues this week?

  yucan wrote @

Jerry-

Hey, great to hear from you! How is the atmosphere in the midwest?

I’m not sure how we’ll handle this from a church perspective, although we have begun with the communications this week. You can visit the Ethnos blog to contribute…

Hope you’re doing well. Look forward to connecting soon!

  Belisarius wrote @

To Jerry,

You have heard of Anti-Asian sentiment after the Virginia Tech shootings? I have had my eyes and ears glued to TV and talk radio, and have heard nothing. Indeed, that would truly disgust me, and amaze me, considering that the president of the Va. Tech student government is an Arab-American, and so many of the victims of the massacre were themselves internationals, particularly Asian Christians, both visiting students-professors and Americans of Asian descent, as well as the intrepid Holocaust survivor and professor who gave his life to save the lives of so many of his students.

Anybody who would watch the same newscasts, see the same pictures of killer AND victims, and go arrive at a sick decision to mistreat Asians really needs to be deported. He may say, “You can’t do that, I’m a native born American! You can’t deport me!” I’ll say, “Today we changed the law, just for you!”

But then again, human nature being what it is, nothing should be surprising. Racism and intelligence are, of course, mutually exclusive comments.

Oh, and to Kelly. I appreciate the scriptures you quoted. I take my point of view seriously, and have no apology for an aggressive defense of what I know to be truth. However, your quotations remind me to “consider myself, lest I also be tempted.” I don’t want people to just witness my anger, but consider the content of the words I write. Thanks for the admonition. I shall try to heed it.

“Long live Aslan!”


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