I don’t often speak up and voice my opinion, especially when it comes to sensitive topics. I like to tap out before a conversation gets too political or controversial. Part of me likes to believe that I am trying to attain the “harmony” or “peace” that the Asian American culture so strongly values, but deep inside I know that it is mostly out of fear, my desire for comfort, and cowardice. I am learning that there is no such thing as being “neutral” when it comes to racism and this is certainly not the lifestyle that Jesus lived out, so how can I think that is okay?
Many people have been posting and re-posting helpful resources on social media. I initially didn’t join them because I honestly didn’t want to get caught up in another “trend.” But I’m so thankful for these posts because they convicted me to stop, think a little, and realize how totally wrong and ignorant I am. With the help of these resources and a rather lame attempt at doing my own research (I hope I can do better!), I wanted to write some of my reflections so that I can look back at them at a time this may not be a trend anymore and I am tempted to go back to being my reticent self.
First, some things I need to repent of:
- Judging others for simply expressing themselves. Whether this be thinking to myself, “here we go, another conversation about race and diversity” at work or questioning how people can be so outspoken, even when they receive so much backlash. Or for thinking that people are “weird” when they are so passionate enough about something to write about it on social media.
- Not understanding how deep or serious the issue of racism is, and how it still exists in this country. I’ve seen the news, I’ve sat through diversity trainings, I literally witness the inequalities in my research for crying out loud. But somehow, I’ve managed to turn away from these truths and believe the lie that our country has “come so far” since the 1800s.
- Siding with privilege instead of the oppressed. Reading this article about Asian American Complicity in Racism was so exposing and humbling. Made me think about how much value I place on assimilation, trying to fit in with the majority (aka, White people) and somehow thinking that I am above other minorities. I can try to excuse myself by claiming that this wasn’t intentional, but I am not going to lie to myself or to God because let’s be real, sometimes I thought about it and still continued to live that way.
So now, some actions I would like to take to combat racism:
- Engaging with the black community. To step out of my little bubble of Asian American friends at church, at school or work. I realized I have very few brothers and sisters to reach out to and check in on during this time. That also means I have very few people to listen to and learn from their first-hand experiences. God, give me the heart and courage to expand my circle, to engage with people who do not look like me or live the same way as me.
- Praying for this country and our deeply rooted racism. As if racism wasn’t challenging enough, how much more difficult it must be when the leaders of this country (the president, district attorneys, etc.) are not empathetic or responsive to the outcries of our brothers and sisters. That the very founding fathers of this nation, who spoke of equality and justice, were themselves white, privileged, and racist males. To my current and future self – pray for the leaders of this country to make wiser, more loving decisions on behalf of the oppressed!!
- Doing my civic duty. Having never been a fan of the subjects like history or economics, I am so uninformed and therefore am tempted to not vote, lest I make the “wrong” decision. I know, it is foolish and selfish, not even remotely close to an excuse. I will start educating myself and going out to vote to make a difference!
- Participating in discussions – yes, even the difficult ones. Meetings to discuss diversity, race, and equity were always just another appointment on my calendar, not something I felt compelled to join. But whether at school, or work, or church – this is my chance to hear from others, to learn what I can be doing (and what not to be doing) to fight alongside them. So yes, it may be another hour of my life that is not technically required, and it may be a heated discussion that makes me uncomfortable, but gosh, that is absolutely nothing compared to those who are living it out each day.
- Stand up and speak up for others. If there ever comes a day where I witness an injustice – whether it be a small microaggression like a racial slur or a bigger event, like an unwarranted attack – God, would you give me the courage to stand up for the victim and not be a cowardly bystander.