Race and Reconciliation. And Being Asian American.

If you’ve been following the news (which if you haven’t, I highly recommend subscribing to theSkimm. It’s a daily email that condenses the “need to know” news in an easy to read format) you may have noticed that there is quite of a lot of racial tension going on right now (understatement).

My church had a Race and Reconciliation panel a few weeks ago, and my community group spent the last two weeks talking about these issues. A few things have really struck me and have prompted me to think a little bit more about how I feel and what to do.

Prior to these conversations, I never really felt like I had reason to have an opinion on “black” and “white” matters. I was aware of the black lives matter versus all lives matter tension, and I was aware that there is clear racism and prejudice against black people. I had also read, week after week, numerous accounts of black people being murdered by police officers, but I had also experienced the tragedy of white police officers in Dallas being murdered as well.

Yet, here I am, neither black nor white. What does all of this mean for me, an Asian American woman? Does my opinion even matter? What if, by asking my black friends how they have been affected, I am being “racist”? Will they be offended because I’m not black? Am I even allowed to refer to them as “black”? All of these questions and fears led me to paralysis in the form of silence. Maybe if I didn’t say anything, I wouldn’t offend anyone or say the wrong thing. Maybe, if I pretended I was invisible, I wouldn’t cause any trouble.

You see, growing up, I was always taught not to cause trouble. My parents immigrated from Taiwan, and they taught me that we were imposing and we needed to integrate ourselves with Americans in a peaceful way. When we cause riots and voice our opinions obnoxiously, it is considered “bad manners.” As long as I put my head down, worked hard, then I would “succeed” in life and maintain harmony, which happens to be one of my strengths, though I attribute much of this to my upbringing. Despite this idea of keeping the peace, my brother and I read the newspaper with my dad at the breakfast table every morning growing up. It was important to be well informed and to know what is going on with the world, just don’t be one of those loud-mouth people with a bullhorn voicing your opinion.

However, through conversations with my community group, I was specifically struck by the notion that my silence can be hurtful to some people. My opinion matters, and the fact that I should have an opinion also matters. Rather than portraying ignorance and choosing not to engage in conversations about racism and prejudice (which, by the way, I learned are two very different things), I am called as a believer in Jesus Christ, to reconcile with my brothers and sisters (2 Corinthians 5:18), to instigate conversations with people of all colors about how to reconcile people of all nations. Jesus came down and reconciled himself to us first, so that we may reconcile with others back to God himself.

So, here I am, choosing not to be silent, choosing to engage in these tough conversations, and even enduring through the awkward pauses. Through this, I am choosing Jesus, because He first loved us.

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