The Unacceptable Silence of Asian American Christians in Response to Ferguson

I had a much more mellow post written. I swear that I did. But as I reflect on what  I think is right to say,  I know I need to make the point more strongly. As I scroll through my Facebook feed the vast majority of my Black friends and colleagues are posting and writing about what is happening in Ferguson in response to the murder of Michael Brown. There is grief and anger. There is pain. There is the frustration of having to explain to people AGAIN why this is upsetting. There is the pain that non-Black Americans don’t seem to understand why this is so upsetting. If you haven’t been following, then you can read up through these posts.

This is Why We’re Mad About the Shooting of Mike Brown

 The Front Lines of Ferguson

If They Gunned Me Down

A small portion of my justice minded Asian American friends are posting on it and maybe one or two White folks. But for the most part my feed is alternating between repostings of articles on Ferguson and videos of cats and pictures of food. Others have already addressed the White community, and many Black writers have articulated the issues surrounding Ferguson better than I can.

When Terror Wears A Badge

Becoming a White Ally to Black People in the Aftermath of the Michael Brown Murder 

The Police Are the Issue In Ferguson, Not Michael Brown’s Character

But I felt it was important to talk to one of the communities that I am most connected to:  Asian American Christians.

Why are we so painfully silent as debate and tragedy and grief are raging around us? Will any of our churches take time to pray for grieving families on Sunday- not only Micheel Brown’s family, but the family of John Crawford, a man that was shot in Walmart for holding a toy gun. Or Eric Garner, the father of 6 that was killed through the use of an illegal choke hold by police in New York.

My mind turned back to last summer where I led a group of Christian college students into responding to the Trayvon Martin verdict. I took a group of mainly Asian American and White students through a journey where they could have compassion and grieve over what had happened. We taught them to care about what the Black community was saying, instead of ignoring it by saying “that’s a Black people problem.”

That type of response, “It’s a Black problem” deeply troubles me as a Christian and when spoken among Christians.  I encountered it again this summer. I led 50 students who were living in the inner city for 6 weeks for an urban project. The crisis of children crossing the border was making headlines and we began a conversation: what is a Christian response to this situation?  We also looked at the issue of mass incarceration and systemic injustice against Black men. But suddenly, a group of students that had started the summer by saying that race was not an issue for them, couldn’t stop using race as an excuse. I’m not Latino, so that’s not my issue. I’m not Black, so I can’t relate.

This excuse bothers me. I’m not a Black man and I have never been harassed by the police, but I can use my mind and imagination to figure out that if I was stopped and harassed by cops repeatedly with no just cause- for example, under New York’s now defunct stop and frisk policy- I might feel angry, scared, powerless, and like the system was against me. I could read thoughtful articles that help me understand.  (This article by  Questlove broke my heart ) No, I haven’t experienced it, but as a human I can understand emotions that are common to all people. For some reason, Christians, who have never experienced human trafficking or the sex trade can muster a lot of  compassion for these issue, but then stay oddly silent and distant on the issue of police violence against Black men.

We don’t see the image of God in these young men. We don’t see their beauty, intelligence, and human dignity. So many of these men are actually just boys. But we don’t see. I remember when Brittany Spears and Destiny’s Child came out. Everyone saw Britany spears as a teenage girl, but everyone viewed Beyonce as a grown woman- even though they were the exact same age. We look at white and Asian youth and see youth that needs to be protected. We look at Black youth and see adults, or worse: just “other,” not people we can relate to.

Jesus heals blind people repeatedly in the gospels. And these healings function, in part, as parables for the spiritual blindness of the people around him. Asian American bothers and sisters: we are blind. We aren’t seeing the pain of our brothers and sisters.

Jesus repeatedly healed lepers, who were numb to pain. They too are a parable. Asian American brother and sisters: we are numb to systems  of injustice around us.

It troubles me that the church is so central to the Asian American community- especially the Korean American community – and the church is so central to the Black community, but the two have so little unity and compassion for each other. We claim to believe in the same God, and the same Savior who adopted us all and made us family. If we are family, then when one person mourns and grieves, we all grieve. It’s a dysfunctional family that ignores the grief of another family member, or even worse says “Your grief is not real.”

So, here are my thoughts for my Asian American Christian community. There is so much that needs to be addressed to correct for the sinful and broken ways in which we have essentially adopted a broken White evangelical view of race and justice. But these are a few starting points.

 

First- it’s not a Black problem- It’s a mothers and fathers losing their babies problem.

I don’t have kids. But I think about it through my relationship with my Godson.

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He is 16. When he got teased in junior high I would lay in bed and have to walk myself through the legal ramifications of hurting the small children that were making him so sad at school. Because his pain was upsetting to me and it hurt me, because I love him. In two years he will be the same age as Michael Brown and getting ready to go to college.  In two years he will not be a dangerous threat that needs to be gunned down. He will be a young man, who sometime acts like a boy and sometimes amazes me with his courage as a man.  He will be stepping into adulthood in a wonderful and precious way. If he were to be killed, unarmed, one night by a police officer. You can believe I would absolutely lose my mind with grief, with anger, and with a cry for justice. A few days ago I was trying to explain to his 10 year old sister what was happening in Ferguson. I said, “If Auntie Erna had a son and a policeman hurt him for no reason, what do you think Auntie Erna would do? She said “ You would rip his face off.”  So a ten year old gets it- why don’t we get it? Someone hurts a child you love- you get angry, you take action, you grieve. And yet many in the Asian American Christian community watch these protests and hold them at arms length, as if they can’t understand the response they are seeing.

Why are we so numb and oblivious to the grief of our brothers and sisters? If we, Asian American Christians, really believe that we are one family in Christ, then we must respond accordingly. We must respond with compassion and grief at the loss of life.

To this day Koreans and Korean Americans are still upset that Japan has not acknowledged the injustice suffered by many Korean women who were trafficked as sex slaves (often refereed to as comfort women) during World War II. We are upset that Japan hasn’t acknowledged the injustice done to our grandmothers decades ago. And I understand that. It is unjust and dehumanizing. So why can’t we muster compassion and sympathy for parents that are watching their sons being dehumanized and murdered today?

Think of Jesus and his compassion on the widow at Nain. He saw her grief. He saw the implications it would have on her life to lose her son.  And he responded with compassion and action. He didn’t say, “I’ve never been a woman,” “I’ve never been a widow,” “I’ve never lost a son, so I don’t relate” He could see grief and pain, and he responded with compassion.

It’s not a Black problem. Parent losing their beloved children is a human problem.

Second- I am grateful to Western Christianity for a lot of reasons. Missionaries came to my mother’s village in South Korea when she was a child and introduced my aunt and my mother to Jesus. I grew up in church in part because of their influence. And I’m grateful for that. However, Asian American Christianity has adopted some jacked-up aspects of White American Christianity.

  •   We view everything through an individualistic lens.  In contrast, the majority of Scripture is addressed to communities, people groups, and countries. But we read it completely individualistically. This makes us blind to issues of sin beyond individual sin. We don’t see sin in systems, and communities, and countries.
  •  Our view of justice is to give a man a fish. As Asian Americans we have a value for charity – we tutor, we hand out food, we give clothes. But I believe we had adopted a broken Western view of justice and service. There are three lenses: (1) give a man a fish or (2) teach a man to fish. But if the pond has a giant wall around it? Then (3) tear down the wall. We have locked into “give a man a fish,” which makes us feel good about ourselves, but doesn’t address problems at their root. And it doesn’t address our own version of White savior Christianity.
  • We pretend to be colorblind while using the church to reinforce our ethnocentricism. The Asian American church played an important role serving second and third generation Asian Americans. But it has become a context where Asian American Christians never encounter or interact with believers of other ethnicities. And it has made us ignorant. It has made people of other races caricatures and instead drawing from each others cultures- we’ve grown isolated and ignorant to the pain of our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s time to change- or, in Christian vernacular,  to repent.

 

I understand that as Asian Americans we are still figuring out our place in these dialogues. Historically these issues are rooted in Black and White dynamics and I respect and understand that. But compassion is never wrong. Getting educated is never wrong. Fighting injustice is never wrong. Mourning with those who mourn is never wrong. Repenting of ambivalence is never wrong. Let’s start there and learn as we go.

Let’s engage. Lets have compassion. Let’s address this in our churches and small groups. Lets show up to protests and vigils and prayer meetings. Lets learn, sit at the feet of Black leaders, and Black Christian leaders, and the Black community.

Let us mourn with those who mourn. Asian American Christians,  let us learn to cry out for justice for all.

 

 

 

 

 

57 thoughts on “The Unacceptable Silence of Asian American Christians in Response to Ferguson

  1. This truly moved me to tears and I’m so grateful for your words. Thank you for this post and I am reposting it right now. Agreed completely.

  2. Thank you for caring, Erna. You’re right, the silence is so loud. I can only conclude that many Asian brothers and sisters have also assimilated in their view of African Americans, believing with their many white counterparts, that we are somehow less human than themselves. Jesus, unlike us in his divinity, took on flesh so that he might be a high priest that could be touch by us and this choice allowed him to look on the multitudes with compassion. We have been created, like God, with the capacity to empathize. But like Jesus, we must choose to do so. Otherwise, despite our professions, we are clanging brass and tinkling cymbals.

    My children ARE your children. My sorrow, your sorrow. Whether or not we choose to acknowledge it, we are all responsible. We are the church.

    • Thanks for reading Donna and for sharing your heart. It is truly my desire that God will do something to awaken my brothers and sisters. You are right, we are the church and we are all responsible. Your children are my children. And these young men are my sons. And it is on me and on the whole body of Christ to hold them with love and courage.

  3. I am totally with you. It has been disappointing to see the limited coverage from fellow Asian Americans. What is happening in Ferguson is a justice issue that should be a concern to all Christians. You are justified in calling out the Asian Americans on this silence; we need to be standing resolutely with our black brothers and sisters, and with all those who recognize the injustices happening in the Michael Brown tragedy. Appreciate your writing these challenging words!

  4. Erna–

    Powerful, Biblical and heartfelt. You make some important points and have caused me to pause & reflect. Thank you for sharing.

    May I share my personal struggle re. expressing my more deeply held concerns on social media? It’s my wimpiness and maybe even how God has wired me. I’m a pastor on a staff of a large church. Lots of people “follow” me. The few times I’ve “pushed” the conversation a bit prophetically, some folks have ranted on my FB page (e.g. the World Vision decision re their hiring practices).

    I don’t like confrontation period, full stop. I really don’t like confrontation via a de-personalized medium such as social media. I feel people say stuff on line that they might not have the courage to say to my face. So, I will continue to bring up Ferguson and Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin in person with folks, where I have a much better chance of a conversation vs. allow folks a platform for a rant.

    This may not seem as courageous as a post or even a re-post, but I’ve often gotten further with folks in person than on line.

    So, a different strategy but I trust it also speaks to God’s heart for justice that we share.

    Thanks for listening to someone who is a card carrying non-confronter who also knows the world is broken & is trying to do some things about it in ways that fit how God has wired me.

    Blessings to you!
    Jeanette

    • Hi Jeanette,

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I absolutely agree with you that social media has some limitations. People take polarizing stances and don’t really listen to each other. It can go hostile very quickly. I agree that most of the deepest change will come from interpersonal interaction and conversation. However, I do think there is a place for online conversation. After the Trayvon Martin case I was very grateful for some of the articles that Black men wrote about their experiences of being a Black man in America. I felt challenged and it grew my compassion. I was exposed to more voices than I had in my immediate relational circle and it helped me grow and learn. Plus, it lifted the burden from my African American friends of having to educate me in a way that could have been emotionally exhausting to them. I could get a base level of understanding from voices online. Though I don’t think that a blog post will bring the Asian American community to full repentance, it may get some attention that leads to next steps. And I have been encouraged by some of the attention that has been brought to Asian American issues via social media. The #NotYourAsianSidekick hashtag was very interesting. I have found that I can learn a lot through Black Twitter. Putting up with some crazy and some trolling and people who don’t know how to manage themselves on the medium is par for the course.

      I think it’s awesome that you are influencing in the ways the suit who you are. In this instance, I chose to have a voice on social media, because I think that the absence of an Asian American voice in the social media conversation surrounding Ferguson was harmful and hurtful. Our silence isn’t neutral. Its not a perfect medium, but it’s an important and relevant one in our times. So I’m trying to engage in the best way I know how.

      And clearly – I am card carrying confronter. Hopefully for the right things.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I have such respect for you and your ministry and legacy.

      • Hi Erna!

        Either I’m so busy and/or so new to the blogging/replying process that I didn’t know you had responded. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

        Just FYI, I brought up Ferguson to a group of 15 pastors in our church the other day, saying that we don’t really address current, important social/cultural issues in real time. Then I tried to push the boundaries a bit and actually spoke back to our head pastor when he said he thought we (as a church) had addressed the issue of immigration reform. I tried to say respectfully, “au contraire” and mentioned a specific time when another pastoral leader type told me I couldn’t have a class on immigration reform because that was political. I quoted myself back to our lead pastor. “Speaking on immigration reform can be construed as political. Not speaking on immigration reform can be construed as political as well.”

        So, I’m trying to influence and move folks forward in ways that suit me. I think having an institutional affiliation in a big steeple evangelical church like ours limits some of what I can do and also enhances in some ways what I can do for the kingdom. Wisdom is learning what to say/do when and in what context. Let’s continue to encourage one another “to keep in step with God’s spirit” about the specifics of this for each of us, and for others in our Asian American community. Meanwhile, I continue to admire your courageous, prophetic unction. You go Erna!!!

        Blessings,
        Jeanette

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  6. I agree that Asian Americans need to be intentional in learning about the history of Black America, especially their plight and struggle throughout the American history – from slavery to systematic segregation to every day injustices. I have gained a fresh perspective and deep appreciation of the foregoing after attending seminary. Yes, we, Asian Americans, should not be silent, passive or worse indifferent. We need to be engaged in these current affairs.

    At the same time, we need to also be mindful that when an essay such as this urges all Asian Americans to stand with the African American community we risk alienating the White America and fall trap to the White-Black America dichotomy and divide, and do not help in the cause of healing and reconciliation. ‘

    We, as Asian Americans, cannot just side with one collective group with any social justice issue as every case is complex and not so clear cut. We must also be cognizant that the African American community is not monolithic in thinking insofar as finding the ways to deal with social justice issues.

    The Michael Brown case like many similar cases open up the raw legacy of pain and struggle of the African American community. As a community, they share a collective pain that has not been healed despite the immense progress it has made including the fact that American has a black president and attorney general.

    Further, as we strive to understand the plight and struggle of the African American community we will find similar injustices we, Asian Americans, have experienced in the so-called, “White America” and the “establishment.” There is much nuance and diversity also within the “White America.” In short, we have to build relationships with the African American community, collectively and individually, as well as with other ethnic groups.

    But, most important, we must strive to do all the foregoing without alienating or even demonizing the good people who serve in and through the law enforcement community. We must not build bond with the African American community on the premise that “White America”, “the Establishment” or the law enforcement community are out to get “us”, the minority communities of America; that would be a step in the wrong direction despite the good intentions.

    • Steven,

      Your message really troubles me, because it sound awfully close to “Let’s not upset the white people. Because there are good white people who don’t these things and if we speak up, they may not be our friends anymore, and we might loose the privileges that they’ve allowed us.” There’s a problem in any society that gets upset or feels threatened by another group speaking out against injustice, and often time, especially in the history of America, real progress is only made by changing our norms, challenging the system, and ultimately, making lot of people upset.

      • Jasmine,

        Interesting that, in your words (and, not mine), you write, “Let’s not upset the white people. Because there are good white people who don’t these things and if we speak up, they may not be our friends anymore, and we might loose the privileges that they’ve allowed us.” And, get upset by your own thoughts you project and attribute to me. I really cannot respond to this because those are your words!

        – Steve

    • My concern, in response to Steven, is that “the Establishment” relies on those who are not black to not speak up. Calling out injustice is not demonizing; it will have to alienate, as almost every encounter with injustice must. Of course there’s diversity in white America, but I suspect that you’re conflating white individuals with a system that seems to privilege whites and punishes blacks, and relies on Asian Americans to not take sides. It’s the systemic injustice that is the problem, and it takes collective voices (and key power players) to call a system to accountability.

      • Jerry,

        I appreciate the engagement and your reply.

        Race and racism are always factors in the pluralist society that has become America. Anytime, an incident such as this occurs in America race and racism, collectively, is the undertone that hums constantly. However, that is the macro issue of our time (often characterized under the term, “system” or “systematic oppression”) that will not go away anytime soon.

        My concern is the premature judgments and the conclusion to call every event a “racial event” and yell out “injustice” at every turn, BEFORE there has been a full investigation. And, when the political activists turn on their agenda engine and stir up the masses and incite an US vs. Them mentality then that offends my brand of Christian Ethics – one of peace, reconciliation, love, forgiveness and understanding. This does not mean I advocate passivity or trying not to rock the boat. To the contrary, I believe confronting issues head on as necessary to achieve justice and peace. However, it’s the means to end that I’m discussing here.

        So, for me, alienating and demonizing people BEFORE we come to the table, break bread and have a meaningful dialogue is troubling.

        What’s troubling in all of this on social media (and political and media pundits) is that this macro issue takes the front seat and the micro issue (finding the truth of what really took place) is squashed altogether and the irony is that it no longer is about Michael Brown and his death, but that Michael Brown’s death has become another “racial event” to be exploited at every turn to further the greater narrative of the left . Yes, we need to address the greater narrative (left and right), but not at the expense of every Treyvon or Michael’s death.

        In the meanwhile, there is a judicial process going on right now. The US Attorney General is at Ferguson and the Grand Jury is convening today. All I advocate is, do not rush to judgment and scream “injustice” before all facts are brought to fore.

      • Thanks for your understanding and support. It will take all of us to right the wrongs in our country. It always has.

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  8. I’m an African American woman who was a pastor on staff at an Asian church. We are more alike than different, and reading this beautiful piece of Truth proves it. THANK YOU. AMEN.

  9. Pingback: Ferguson to Asian Americans: Deconstructing Silence

  10. A student asked Stanley Hauerwas, why don’t christians know that we should be against war and for peace? In his unique fashion, Hauerwas gave an intentionally oversiplified answer that rings undeniably true – Blame your pastor. Can a congregation be more radical than the pastor?

    • Hi Harold,

      Thanks for your comment. I do think that congregants can take a lot of initiative. But pastors are often the limiting factor in a church. If their theology is limited, their preaching will be limited. If they don’t talk about Ferguson from the pulpit then most of the congregation will assume that engaging with these issues is not central to Christian discipleship. Sadly, a congregation is typically less radical than a pastor.

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  12. Steven Kim wrote a very well-thought and balanced perspective from his point of view. That took courage in light of the overall sentiments of the article and responses. But what disappointed me was the inclusion of the Japan – Korean “comfort women” issue. Oddly enough, I was wondering if and when this issue would find its way into this good and timely essay. And it did. The Korean and Korean-American obsession with Japan’s wartime conduct is both understandable and disturbing. More disturbing because you’re writing as a Korean Christian. First of all, Japan did acknowledge its reprehensible actions with the Korean comfort women. That was either back in the 1950’s or 1960’s. With diplomatic and political help from America, they paid hefty reparations to the South Korean government for their sins. Unfortunately, the money never got to the comfort women, but, instead, lined the pockets of the prevailing Korean rulers, President Rhee et al. But that’s neither Japan’s or America’s fault. That’s Korea’s fault.

    I was born in one of the American Internment Camps during WWII set up just for Japanese Americans. My parents and grandparents paid a terrible price for “being different”. They lost everything; material, financial, emotional, psychological, etc. And their losses were buried deep within their souls. As angry and beaten down and exasperated as they were, they still mustered the strength and wisdom to move on and rebuild their lives. Interestingly enough, many were Christians (my parents were Methodists and my grandparents were Buddhist) and I was raised an Episcopalian. I believe they embraced and understood the Christian tenet of Forgiveness. They knew they couldn’t rebuild their lives if they harbored erosive and debilitating hatred and anger towards America. With all that they endured, they still thought of themselves as American, still loved America and still wanted to live here, NOT Japan. They lived the axiom, learn form history but forgive and move on. I feel blessed that they endowed me with such a positive foundation.

    So what does this have to do with Koreans and Korean Americans? Especially Korean Christians. You wrote a good article despairing in the lack of Asian American Christian response to the Ferguson debacle. I applaud you for that worthy and honorable position. I vividly recall back in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s Japanese American and Chinese American demonstrations against the Viet Nam War. But I also recall the general silence and apathy among many older Japanese Americans and Chinese Americans on the historic Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. That was really disturbing. The feeling I get is that you’re filled with sincere angst and hurt over worthy causes that deal with interracial issues and that you truly want friendship, empathy and harmony amongst all people. That’s admirable. But, as a Christian, your’e being very selective in your aims. Because that one Korean obsession keeps rearing its ugly head, the COMFORT WOMEN! It seems to be in Korean DNA to hate the Japanese and never let go of it. It’s your ethnic identity! Keep it going for all posterity. You and your parents have brought this Hate DNA over to America. That’s really too bad. Leave it in Korea. There’s so much hatred and mistrust amongst Asians, it drives me crazy. Asians all hate each other. They’re all so prejudiced and biased. I’m sure glad I’m a Japanese American! Have you ever heard of the Christian concept of foregiveness? If you have, then I guess it only applies to everyone but the Japanese. You Koreans even go so far as to erect comfort women monuments here in America, like the ones in Burbank, CA and Virginia, etc. I’m sure there are more. Build them in Korea, not here. This is NOT an American issue! Keep the hatred alive in Korea, NOT here!

    You may not agree with my views. That’s okay. At least you’re hearing a sincere response to one issue that I take issue with as both an American and Japanese American. I hope you find peace within someday.

    Ken

    • Ken,

      Thank you for your impassioned and well thought out reply! (On a side note, I didn’t understand what you meant by ” ‘ Steven Kim wrote a very well-thought and balanced perspective from his point of view. That took courage in light of the overall sentiments of the article and responses. But what disappointed me was the inclusion of the Japan – Korean “comfort women’ issue.”)

      Anyway, the point of my reply is how right you are about the on-going hatred perpetuated by the hardliners in both Korea and Japan, and their influence on the mass at large. Still, I have seen and engaged in beautiful relationships as well between Korean and Japanese people. One of my Drew Theological School friends, a native Korean, speaks fluent Japanese and pastors a Japanese congregation in New Jersey. Our church (Korean/ Korean-American Church) offered a Japanese speaking service led by a Japanese-American pastor for many years. When I went to Japan for the first time in 1999, I did experience a slight bias from the hotel front desk when they saw my American passport with my Korean last name shown. I felt a slight that I’ve not felt since the first time when I immigrated to America (when I was 10) and heard the word, “Chink” roll off from the neighborhood bullies. At the same hotel, to my surprise, there was a tiny Chapel in the back (Renaissance hotel in Tokyo). God redeemed my initial negative experience with a blessed experience. I attended the Sunday service at the Chapel. There were a young Japanese couple, a male doctor and me, plus the pastor. They were incredibly kind to me and the doctor took off the whole afternoon just to show me around Tokyo. Now, I don’t mean to, in any way, diminish the realities of the on-going prejudice and hate between the people of the two countries. But, I share the stories because there is always hope when individuals form relationships without contempt or just plain hate against each other.

      YEs, we can and should, as two communities, be intentional about it, but I also believe that we need to live out our forgiveness and love for one another, one person at a time. And, when that happens in multitude we can surely topple the mountain of hate.

      Thank you for bringing this up! It’s all relevant!

      for many year had a lack of is your point made about the Korea-Japan issue. I agree. There’s

      • Hi Steve,

        The part about the “comfort women” was not meant for you. It was meant for the original author, I presume a woman whose name I don’t know. I was writing hastily and now realize that I probably inadvertently linked the comfort women issue with your excellent response to the original author, thus creating unnecessary confusion. A thousand pardons. Again, I sincerely feel that you express your thoughts lucidly and rationally. Keep on keeping on!

  13. People have already said all of the good and necessary things. I will just say that I appreciate your insight and passionate call to repentance of heart and action. You rock.

  14. Thank you so much for this. As a Black Christian who always finds myself in Asian-American fellowships, constantly having to explain myself and never being heard, receiving love but no allyship or empathy for racial hurts, this is really wonderful to read.

  15. As an Asian American Pastor of an African American church, I completely resonate with this piece. Thank you for challenging myself and our AA community to be more engaged on this kingdom issue.

    • Thanks for reading Leedah! I would love to hear more about your experience as an Asian American pastoring an African American church. That is not a common situation- I bet you have a lot of insightful and unique experiences.

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  17. Thank you dear sister. Jesus has one body with many members, all colors, ethnic backgrounds and we are, as believers, designed to be joint supplies to one another according to Ephesians chapter 4.
    My heart is rejoicing today because to have someone not of my culture understand is incredibly healing. I love the Lord and I love His body, matter of fact I need every member of the body to function correctly. This is a body of Christ thing and we in the body must respond with His grace, His love, and His compassion for all. The word says Jesus is coming back after a church without spot, wrinkle or any such thing. I wonder is racism, neglect, ignorance of our brothers plight holding up his return. I do not know you but I can feel the love of God pouring through every written word. Thank you for admonishing the body of Christ, because it’s not just Asian Christians, to remember He paid the price for all to be free in every area of life.

  18. I don’t think it’s fair that you called out a group of people that you know, tacked a label onto said group, and essentially spoke on behalf of all Asian American Christians through this article. For the people out there who identify with “Asian American” and “Christian” and who happen to be speaking out against the recent events in Ferguson, you completely undermine their efforts and attempts to stand for what they believe is right. What’s more, is you assume that the people you know who also identify as Asian American Christians, is representative of all other Asian American Christians outside your realm. There are people who are people who identify themselves as African American that are NOT saying anything and yet because the majority of African Americans YOU know happen to be blasting your feed, you assume that everyone is on board with justice except Asian American Christians.

    You shouldn’t have singled out Asian American Christians. You should have singled out every person who doesn’t share the same opinion as you. Because at the end of the day that’s what’s really happening here. What threshold has to be met before you are satisfied with the pro-activity of “Asian American Christians?” I just don’t understand what “Asian American” and “Christian” have anything to do with it at all.

    If the goal was to call attention to the lack of sensitivity people seem to be displaying for this murder, I feel like there could have been a much more tactful and respectful way of doing so. Just because there aren’t dozens of facebook posts about this from the group of Asian American Christians you happen to know, doesn’t mean that there is a lack of empathy, sympathy, action, or otherwise from them.

  19. I totally agreed that there are lots of abuse of police power, including murder. But isn’t calling the death of Michael Brown at this point “murder” a bit pre-mature?

  20. While the author, Erna of this blog post makes a positive point of drawing out that people need to be empathizing with people who are hurting, she contradicts herself by over generalizing different racial groups. She calls out her Asian American community to repent because they haven’t been showing enough compassion or empathy for the racial conflict dealings in Ferguson. Though I believe the problem is much larger than Racial Group A not doing enough to promote social justice for Racial Group B. The problem is that American society (whatever race we are) or wherever else where humans rights are given more freely, has become desensitized to basic human rights because today’s generation have been born with more rights than our predecessors. We as a society have been granted with these rights as soon as we are born on American soil.

    The second problem to this article is the over generalizing by saying Racial group A does not do enough for Racial group B. Erna contradicts herself when saying that the lack of compassion and empathy is a human problem not a race problem yet she is calling out for the Asian American community to repent for having a lack of empathy towards this issue. Not only does she fail to mention how Asian Americans have played a vital role in leadership and support in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s-1970s and to present day history, she is generalizing that the Asian American community has not done enough to combat racism especially pertaining to the issue in Ferguson.

    “It troubles me that the church is so central to the Asian American community- especially the Korean American community – and the church is so central to the Black community, but the two have so little unity and compassion for each other. We claim to believe in the same God, and the same Savior who adopted us all and made us family. If we are family, then when one person mourns and grieves, we all grieve. It’s a dysfunctional family that ignores the grief of another family member, or even worse says ‘Your grief is not real.’ ” The Unacceptable Silence of Asian American Christians In Response to Ferguson by Erna

    The danger to overgeneralizing is that, generalization is in essence a root to creating labels, stereotypes and then the branches of racism itself when you say that one group of people characterized by their physical features and cultural heritage does not do enough to show compassion for another group of people characterized by their physical features and cultural heritage. If one wanted to generalize, one should generalize the entire population of humans because racism is much more than a race problem. The core of racial issues is about the lack of empathy and compassion from the soul which every human has, no matter what division is created through cultural upbringing or skin color.

    “So, here are my thoughts for my Asian American Christian community. There is so much that needs to be addressed to correct for the sinful and broken ways in which we have essentially adopted a broken White evangelical view of race and justice.” – The Unacceptable Silence of Asian American Christians In Response to Ferguson by Erna

    Martin Luther King Jr. , one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and a Black-American pastor knew that he was fighting for something far more than just Black and White racial divisions. He knew that even though he was a Black American that experienced injustice like many other Black Americans , he knew that racism at it’s core was not about the lack of empathy or compassion from one race to another. He knew that racism at it’s core was a heart problem that every single human being had as result of being broken people.

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
    ― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

    His speeches did not imply that one racial group needed to do something else for another racial group. Instead he emphasized the need for all people to come together to combat this heart problem that was at the core of every human being.

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    -Martin Luther King, Jr.

  21. I definitely agree with many of the points made. That being said however, I am not sure if we can call this injustice yet. No one knows the whole story (besides the people involved, but their stories don’t fit) and it would be dangerous to just assume that injustice was done. Was the police officer attacked? Did Michael just have his hands up and was innocent? I for one do not know and I hope you do not act like you do.

  22. I was directed to this post via a FB friend and it really rubbed me the wrong way.

    Nobody seems to know the facts about Ferguson, yet you’re chastising Asian Christians for what exactly? Not marching alongside the Ferguson protesters? Not holding signs up proclaiming, “No Justice, No Peace”? What exactly are Asian Christians (or ANY Christian) supposed to do other than to pray for peace and justice to come to this situation.

    Everyone has a bias. I don’t know if you’re aware of your own, but it seems to me that we need to be careful not to let it taint our objectivity in a matter. I noticed that you chided Christians for not standing up for Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin, yet you said absolutely nothing about the other men involved in the tragedy. Considering we know nothing regarding the Ferguson shooting, has it not crossed your mind that Officer Wilson and his family need prayers as well since their lives are in turmoil? What about the innocent people who lost property and lives due to the rioting? We know that in the Trayvon-case (another case, which we know nothing about), the man who killed Trayvon certainly had his life ruined, yet this fact didn’t seem to register for you. As I said earlier, Christians should pray for peace and justice. Maybe the man who shot Trayvon is getting exactly what he deserves right now. Considering that I don’t really KNOW this to be the case, I would feel kinda icky to advocating against him.

    If you are decrying the lack of engagement by Christians, then I agree with you there, but engagement with one another does NOT mean advocacy, which seems to be what you’re calling for. Ferguson is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy that an officer discharged his weapon which lead to the death of a black man. It’s a tragedy that it lead to riots. I ought to pray for all parties involved who are being unjustly affected.

    When people are yelling in a room during confusing situation, Christians shouldn’t be shamed for maintaining their silence. The facts haven’t been settled and for us to say anything would be adding to the noise. Pray for peace. Pray for justice. When more facts come out, adjust your prayers (and your actions) appropriately. Prematurely jumping to conclusions isn’t exactly a admirable trait and it shouldn’t be lauded.

    • The Treyvon case has been tried and done. The “facts” have been presented and still you say you don’t know enough to respond. What exactly would it take to justify a response from you, Van? What facts could they present that would justify shooting an unarmed man six times? We were 100% guilty and yet Jesus was still moved with compassion when he looked on us, moved enough to die in our place. It is not necessary to prove Michael’s innocence, man of God, to require you to respond with more than your prayers. As a follower of Jesus you have been instructed to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. A mother is shattered and a community is broken and you sit with your arms folded waiting for a report to convince you that they warrant a response. You don’t know what to say, how to respond? How about saying you’re sorry that another life has been lost, that a family, a neighborhood, a city, a nation is in turmoil, sorry that your black brothers and sisters (for we too are the family of God) feel devalued, hated and dehumanized in our own country. This you can do. This you should do as a follower of Jesus, as a brother in Christ, as a human being.

  23. Pingback: Ferguson: Speaking as an Asian American + Christian – i would be frail

  24. Thanks again for sparking this discussion, Erna. I think I’ve come to some conclusive thoughts:

    This has been a pensive week for me. Ferguson, MO has been on my mind. But more specifically, the ringing challenge of certain Asian American friends who have called the relative silence of their fellow Asian Americans unacceptable, saying we owe a debt to the Black community because of the freedoms we’ve all gained in their fight for civil rights. And while these calls have unsettled me, I have been mulling on their challenge. After all, wounds from a friend can be trusted, right?

    The rest at…

    http://frailb.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/ferguson-speaking-as-an-asian-american-christian/

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  33. so so so late to this conversation. but obviously, it’s still a relevant topic and is not just going to go away (almost 2 years later). thanks for this article. as a japanese-american-christian-man-married-to-a-korean-american-christian-woman, i appreciate your voice. i am grieved by, and often regret, reading a number of these comments, so i wanted throw some support your way.

    i especially, concurred with you on this line: “it’s a dysfunctional family that ignores the grief of another family member, or even worse says ‘your grief is not real.'” that captures so much of what i feel is being missed.

    to the nay-sayers:
    yes, there are exceptions to every generalization, but there is an undeniable broad pattern of the silence of my asian american brothers and sisters that i too experience. if we’re gonna quote mlk jr. let’s consider this one: “large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility & the status quo than about justice & humanity.” could we say the same by replacing “white” with “asian”? Or more hauntingly this one “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

    yes, we do not want to paint an entire race as our enemy (and i don’t see anything in irna’s post that says such anyway), but does that mean we do not stand with those in pain and marginalized (again, i’m not talking about justifying all actions of such a group part and parcel)? the prophets called whole nations and people groups to account…did that alienate some folks? you bet.

    yes, we ought to forgive as Jesus forgives, but this does not mean that we ignore injustice. Jesus certainly didn’t (matthew 23:23, mark 11:15-19, luke 4:16-21, john 9:18-10:21).

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