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For most Anglo and most Asian American Christians, the Open Letter came as a surprise, and now we’re stuck.
I navigate two worlds here—an Anglo one and an Asian American one.
From my vantage point, most Anglo evangelicals had not heard of past incidents like Deadly Viper or Rickshaw Rally. They did not know they were being offensive. They didn’t know there was a past history of offense at all.
Ironically, while the Open Letter was intended to initiate conversation with Anglo evangelicals, the letter’s defensive tone resulted in the complete opposite. It’s very hard to speak to someone who is defensive, and it’s very hard to be heard by someone who is defensive. Defensiveness discourages communication. And now we’re stuck, perhaps even more entrenched and separate than we were before.
Like the Anglo evangelicals, most Asian Americans Christians were also unaware of past offensive incidents. As a result or for other reasons, they were not offended by the Karate Kid parody at the Exponential Conference or by Rick Warren’s posting of the Cultural Revolution-era ballerina and his subsequent response.
I would guess that only 20% of Asian Americans were offended by these incidents. In contrast, many more Asian American Christians were discomfited by the public airing of these sensitive and private matters. Public matters are fair game for a public response, and unoffended Asian Americans have now been called to respond. The Open Letter has put unoffended Asian Americans in an awkward position.
The originators of the Open Letter are part of a conversation that is not in the mainstream. Although this conversation is valid and necessary, most Asian American Christians and Anglo Christians are not privy to it.
I agree that the incidents that led to the Open Letter were racist; however, they were not intentionally so. Although micro-aggressions are a major concern to Open Letter signers, it’s very hard to make the case that unintentional racism is so vastly important. I am not trying to justify impure motives; however, as a greater body of Christ, I believe that we need to do the best we can in our broken reality.
While you can mandate laws, behavior, and action, it is very hard to change people’s hearts or motives. Unfortunately, and ironically, the defensiveness of the Open Letter has made this difficult process even harder.
|Bob, Church Minister|
"Bob" asked for his real name to be withheld. Bob is a second-generation Chinese American who ministers at a large church with a considerable proportion of upper-middle-class Asian Americans.
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