Acting with wisdom has been described as doing the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons. How do we apply wisdom in responding to the impact of injustice in our lives?
For this webinar hosted by See Hear Love, I was joined by a counselor, a global strategist, a justice advocate and an intercultural ministries director to respond to questions of “how are you” and “how can we collectively stop anti-Asian hate?” I’d be lying if I told you I was prepared for this conversation.
My own thoughts felt too raw, unprocessed and not ready to be spoken out loud. I was still grappling with the realities of my own journey of growing up in predominant-Caucasian spaces that formed an ingrained message that sticking out and being different was either embarrassing at best, or disadvantageous and humiliating at worst. This further reinforced the deeply rooted importance of fitting in with the status quo rather than standing out. Reflecting on these, I find myself wondering what else is unexamined about my past and dual-culture upbringing that has contributed to the ongoing wrestling with my identity, even now as a 40-year old Korean-Canadian serving as a leader in a white-majority, male-led Christian context.
It wasn’t until the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others with outcries from all over the world for Black lives to matter, that I became confronted with my own complicity in being racially ignorant.
I cannot unsee what I’ve seen, nor can I erase the images and instances of Black and indigenous and now Asian men, women and children being hated on, to the point of violent assaults and murder. I see myself and my family members, my community in the stories of these victims. I can no longer be ignorant that issues of systemic racism and discrimination exist in almost every context – even the church.
From the perspective of a Christian leader, mentor and friend, three things come to mind in answer to the question “What can we do, collectively to stop anti-Asian racism?”:
- Start within you. Reflect on your own story, then share it! How many of us are carrying unprocessed, unexamined trauma related to our own upbringings and stories that are now being triggered repeatedly? We need to take the time to unpack our own stories, process it with a mentor, mature friend or even professional counselor and heal from wounds that may lie beneath the surface. It’s part of our identity. And identity impacts everything.
- Understand what God has to say about hate. Then, be the antidote to the hate you see or experience by combating it with love, in the spirit of honesty and oneness that Jesus prayed for all His disciples in John 17. We need to have a missional vision as 1st or 2nd generation Asians and our advantage is that our experience of the world is similar to other minorities. As a friend of mine so powerfully said, “It’s a diaspora calling to reach other diaspora.”
- Lead from upfront, and from the margins. Whether it’s through advocacy or activism or more subtly influencing the culture of the context you’re in. We all have a part to play and we need to discern what is the most worthy and impactful use of our time for the greater cause.
My encouragement to Asian Canadians is to stand firm, and stand strong, and reach out for help and safe spaces to receive support when the burden is heavy and especially when your health is being negatively impacted for a sustained period of time. I know personally that some of you are struggling because you are literally the only person of colour in your classroom, workplace or other context. It’s hard to carry a burden so great. But you are NOT alone. There is so much at stake, and we need the collective effort of every single one of us to keep pressing in, and literally being the change we want to see.