Skip to main content

Racism and Ignorance


Last week, members of the youth group spent 5 days in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. Our host was Youth with a Mission, a great parachurch missions organization. Our team was paired with a youth group from the high desert region of San Bernadino County. It was apparent they're not exposed to many Asians. On one outing, I was placed with four teenagers (all white) from their church. I tried on some sunglasses and a girl commented that I look like Jackie Chan. I jumped onto a wall. A guy said it was just like Jackie Chan. I asked if they knew other Asians that I could be compared with. Oh sure they responded - we know Bruce Lee.

In another instance, it was early evening and I was watching a group of our kids on the other side of the street. A black man (who turned out to be quite drunk) passed me jabbering in fake Chinese - "ching chong ding doing". Pushing aside my flashes of rage fantasy, I replied as graciously as I could - "You have a nice evening". "Oh you speak English" he replied. "Only on Tuesdays" I told him. He stopped and we had a nice conversation about life and Lebron James' disappearing act in the NBA finals.

The last incident of racism didn't involve me. As we were leaving Glide Memorial Church after breakfast, a black man directed a comment towards our group - "stay white and privileged". I was trailing the group and he likely didn't know I was with them otherwise he probably wouldn't have said it so loud. I told the kids later what he said and asked them if they knew what it meant. They took it as racist but I wonder if they were aware how privileged they were being white. I say that with some awareness that I am privileged as well. However, it does take seeing the underprivileged or having something taken away to realize how much we have been given. Racism and ignorance are not the same. And it might be helpful to say ignorance breeds racism but in the end racism (and stereotyping) is really assumptions made on partial truths. They're not completely false, they're just not completely true. And the racist component is being unable to distinguish which is which.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Dad's Review of Passport 2 Purity

[3,100 words, 11 minute read] The sex talk is one of the most dreaded conversations parents anticipate having with their children. To make things easier, an entire industry exists to help parents with sex education. Dozens of books have been written to help parents navigate this treacherous topic with their progeny. One of the best known among evangelicals is called the Passport 2 Purity Getaway package . It is produced by FamilyLife, a division of Cru (former Campus Crusade for Christ) and consists of a five lecture CD package including a journal and exercises designed as a weekend retreat for a pre-pubescent child and his/her parent(s). Passport 2 Purity was not my initiative. Our trip came about because Judy had heard from several home-schooling mom friends how they had taken their daughters on a road trip to go through the CDs. She even heard how a mom took a trip with husband and two sons to through the curriculum. So a couple months ago, Judy suggested we take our two older boy

Why Asians Run Slower

My brother got me David Epstein's book The Sports Gene . It is a fascinating quick read. If you're interested in sports and science, it will enthrall you.  I finished it in three days. Epstein's point is that far more of an athlete's performance is due to genetics than due to the so-called "10,000 hour" rule promulgated by books such as Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (both which are very good). The 10,000 hour rule states that any person can reach expert level of performance in a sport if they devote 10,000 hours of deliberate and intentional practice.  That's a lot of hours. Most people aren't capable of anywhere close. And that's precisely Epstein's point. Someone who devotes 10,000 hours of sport-specific practice is likely genetically gifted for the sport in extraordinary ways AND genetically gifted in their ability to persevere and benefit from practice. Therefore, a person who can pra

Unsolvable Problems in Marriage I: Lowering Expectations

Different expectations of conflict From a recent Facebook post: Working on a post about unsolvable problems in marriage: For those who have been married five or more years, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much expectation did you have entering into marriage that communication could resolve any conflict between you and your spouse? How would you rate that expectation now? People often enter into marriage thinking that most if not all their conflicts can be resolved. Women come into marriage thinking "I can make my husband a better man". Men come into marriage thinking, "My wife will learn to see things my way". This idealistic view of marriage does not survive contact with the enemy. Even for couples for whom the first years of marriage are conflict-free, raising children is its own brand of unsolvable problem. And then there's sickness and mental health issues, job changes, unemployment, moving, and shifts in friendships. Conflict in marriage is inevitable. A number