While you’re watching, the middle portion might seem irrelevant to Linsanity. Watch through to the end. It’ll all make sense, and I promise, it will be worth your while. This will resonate with any fans of Lin who have experienced racism in their lives. Moving and beautiful.
Brandon at birth.
Today, on the Time website, Christopher J. Ferguson published an article titled “What You Need to Know About the New Census Numbers on Hispanic Births.” Here are some of my initial thoughts.
First, I find this development to be an extremely beautiful one. It is wonderful to see America becoming more diverse. This article, however, is terribly troubling and telling.
First, it’s titled “What You Need to Know About the New Census Numbers on Hispanic Births.” Who exactly is he referring to when he says you? I have my hunch.
Then the subtitle reads, “The data has gotten attention because of fears that it threatens our national identity, but it signals a blending of culture more than anything else.” I can tell you that for Hispanic and other minority US CITIZENS, this does not feel like a threat. But besides that, it is not a threat but an evolution of our national identity. And finally, why does this author feel the need at all to assuage any of these supposed fears? Why does he feel this need to calm people down by calling it a “blending” rather than a threat? This subtitle and article marginalizes a massive segment of the US population, and it shows a gross ignorance that is inexcusable for a psychology and criminology professor at Texas A&M International University.
Finally, this article makes me wonder, why do some in the majority population feel so threatened by this development? Could it be they finally realize that the country is in fact still profoundly racist and that reality has concrete implications for minorities?
What is most ironic is that the author who penned this article is probably oblivious to how his words come across to minorities. At least to me, that’s the only thing that explains how this article even saw the light of day.
NOTE: I am not saying this author is being deliberately racist; but, his language does betray a racial ignorance that is symptomatic of a country that is racist from its individuals all the way through its structures and rhetoric.
I’m currently reading through some books in preparation for Sunday’s sermon. At the moment, I’m working through The Next Evangelicalism by Soong-Chan Rah. In it I came across these three accounts of racism in the context of American evangelicalism. That so many evangelicals consider racism a personal rather than a systemic, structural problem shows a massive failure in understanding and contextualization.
“The following story from an Asian American blogger reveals the harmful aspects of the creation of ‘the other’:
I am sitting in a service at my home church in Missouri. During an announcement for a new outreach to international students, a non-Aisan woman dressed in a kimono (traditional Japanese dress) stepped up to the mike. She was an elder’s wife. She feigned an accent, in which she spoke in halting English. The congregation roared with laughter. There were two Asians in the church that day. One was me. The other was my unchurched friend. He turned to me and said, “This is bullish__.” He got up, turned around (we were sitting in the front row) and walked past the crowd of 800 laughing and guffawing faces.
Sociologist R. Stephen Warner: “What many people have not heard…and need to hear is that the great majority of the newcomers are Christians…This means that the new immigrants represent not the de-Christianization of American society but the de-Europeanization of American Christianity.”
I am looking forward to the day more theologies from regions around the globe—and locally—are not plowed over or bullied out by entrenched theological positions. I do value Western theology, but to think it’s exhausted theological enquiry is silly and dangerous. In fact, a proper understanding of the inexhaustible nature of God should help any Christian realize that theological development will probably never reach its end in time or by humans.
I am most looking forward to seeing American evangelicalism receiving a dose of much needed humility. Taking a global view, the myopic nature of the rhetoric on Continue reading
As of late, Linsanity seems to have come back down to earth. Frankly, that was to be expected. At the end of the day, the Knicks have issues that go well beyond Jeremy (e.g. coaching, player chemistry, and so on), and Lin is still a young player with a lot to learn. Indeed, he is a great player. The flashes of brilliance he displayed during his initial run simply would not have been possible unless he had the raw skills to back it up. But now that the competition has gotten wind and the Knicks superstars have comeback, Lin will have to mature and adapt. In the years to come, I am confident Jeremy will rise to the challenge, especially considering the type of adversity he’s faced his entire life.
And speaking of adversity, that leads me to the purpose of this post. At the peak of all the Linsanity, it became clear to the world that there was a dark side to it all. Of course, Lin always knew the shadow side was there—he lived it his entire life. But America is being educated on the fly, and, in many respects, you can tell. Lin exposes a racism so deeply entrenched that many in our country don’t even realize it’s there. In fact, many, it would seem, are unwitting bigots. Continue reading
That’s me in the middle.
Besides almost dying from cholera when I was one and getting my hand crushed by a large, steel door when I was three, the rest of my early childhood in Korea was mostly a time of innocence and fun. I do have that one memory where my mom is pumping breast milk for my sister into what seemed to me at the time a large basin, but I’m still not really sure what to make of that image, whether it traumatized me or simply surprised me. But other than that, it’s hard to recall anything remotely negative. All I see is a skinny, Korean boy playing in the stream trying to catch frogs and tadpoles; hiking and exploring the hillsides and woods (we visited the shigol [countryside] often); waiting around the corner, listening for the man with the pull cart to ring his bell so that I could buy and devour a newspaper cone full of bundaegi (roasted silk worm pupae), which, at the time, was by far the most delicious thing on the planet (today, I can’t go near the stuff); feeding cute, fluffy, yellow chicks with rice grains; throwing a hammer at my grandfather’s head; and running away from my three uncles after pouring a bucketful of soapy water into the well, our main source of drinking water (they had to empty the entire well and wait for the next rain to replenish the supply). Of course, I only remember bits and pieces, but from those fragments and the stories my folks share with me, it seems that I really was a rambunctious, happy, little kid who, unlike the current me, actually loved to dance. Continue reading
In this post, my friend and colleague Dr. Hue-Sun Ahn (pronounced Hae-Sun) shares about an experience with racism in the professional world of clinical counselors and psychologists. I’m sure many readers will resonate with her story as racism is still systemic across most professional disciplines. Continue reading
It happened sometime during my years in junior high. I still remember it being a dark and dreary day. (Talk about a hackneyed beginning. Please forgive. ;p) I forgot why our family was on the road, but I remember thinking that I didn’t want to be in the car anymore. What made things worse was that our family was hungry. Not hungry in the sense that we were starving as a family, but hungry because it was time for dinner. But even this type of hunger makes things unbearable for me and those within my “killzone”. (My wife learned this lesson early on, the hard way.)
Anyway, I remember finally stopping somewhere to eat dinner. My dad parked the car, and the rest of us quickly followed him into the restaurant shielding ourselves from the drizzle.
I’m not sure which restaurant it was, but I can still see vividly the entire encounter unfold before my mind’s eye. My dad is walking up to the long, well-lit counter, he places an order, and then pulls out his wallet to pay for the meal. Continue reading
I don’t know why I was in Center City Philadelphia on that particular day. But I do recall it being an especially beautiful spring day and that I was waiting for a bus to take me back to campus. I wasn’t really in a rush, so instead of jumping at every bus appearing over the horizon, I took the time to soak in the sun and let my mind wander as I stood in the bus stall. I remember closing my eyes, and thinking, “Nothing can ruin this day.” I probably also had the conviction that I would skip all my classes that day, which added a pinch of euphoria to my emotional state.
That’s when a man’s voice jolted me out of my serene stupor. “Excuse me,” he said from behind me. “I hope I’m not bothering you, but are you Korean?” Continue reading
Very few seminary campuses compare to Princeton Theological Seminary in terms of sheer beauty. Anybody who’s visited the historic institution knows this. In fact, I heard through the grapevine that Miller Chapel was mentioned in Martha Stewart’s list of most beautiful places to get married. I haven’t been able to verify this, but I can easily see how it could very well be true. (The wife and I got hitched there.) Not enough can be said about the architecture, the greens and the surrounding area. The place looks absolutely gorgeous year-round. (Click on pics to see more photos.)
One place that typically gets overlooked in terms of aesthetic appeal is the Mackay Campus Center, especially the dining hall. The picture doesn’t do it justice. The tall, wide windows at the end of the hall let in copious amounts of sunlight and give students excellent views of the changing seasons as they eat, chat and study throughout the year. It also has two levels and massive chandeliers noticeably held up by only three or four large screws. We used to comment that if those things fell, they would kill half of the student population. I have many fond memories of that dining hall.
Unfortunately, it is also in this setting that I had one of my more memorable racist encounters. We don’t normally associate the modern seminary with racism, especially fairly liberal ones like Princeton (though certainly a spectrum of conservatives, moderates, and liberals are represented); however, racism is alive and well even there. Continue reading
My first schoolyard fight occurred in the 7th grade during a lunch recess. I was attending Memorial Middle School at the time. The yard itself was rather large. As you can see in the picture, it included three softball/baseball fields, a large intervening field connecting the three diamonds and a blacktop. Clearly it was impossible for teachers to keep track of all the kids, and the students knew this. So, quite often, in hidden corners and far-off tree lines, kids would engage in make-out sessions, look at porn magazines (no internet/wifi back then) and so on. This is also why my first fight was able to break out and last as long as it did. (By the way, to orient yourselves as to the point of this series of posts, it might be helpful to read at least the first half of the first entry.) Continue reading
I’m going to do a series of posts titled “Memories of Racism, Memories of Grace.” As a Korean-American, I have faced much racism. I want to use this series to relay some of those experiences. But rather than rant about the injustice of racism, I hope to take a memoir-like approach where I describe the experiences and how they shaped my life.
You will find that while the racist encounters I describe in each post caused me significant pain and scarring, they were also the “source” of much grace. This was something that I could not have anticipated when I was young, but over the years, as I grappled with the many bitter memories, I found that they forced me to plumb the depths of not only my own heart, but also the heart of humanity in general. This wrestling helped me to better understand myself as well as those around me. And when I combined this knowledge with my faith, I discovered that there is a way to weave those racist encounters into the narrative of my life so that they produced understanding instead of tribalism, empathy rather than bitterness and wisdom over blind retribution. In other words, experience and faith helped me to find ways to redeem the evil within and without to produce grace and hope. I have not always succeeded, of course. But I have found that it is indeed possible. In fact, as a Christian, this type of redemption should be the dynamic thread running through all of life’s moments. Continue reading