Racism is continuing it’s ugly manifestation in our society in the form of escalating anti-Asian rhetoric and violence over the coronavirus pandemic. Claims that the virus appears to have originated in China have caused it to it be dubbed the “Chinese virus” by some of our leaders and media, legitimizing the anger and throwing fuel on a fire already burning. In the last two weeks of March, there were over a thousand incidents of racism against Asian-Americans in this country many of them violent, including stabbings, throwing acid on people or deliberately coughing in their faces. The official name for fear and loathing toward people with origins from another country is xenophobia, and it has no place in the company of those who love God and all those who are created in His image, not to mention that it doesn’t have a place in America, a nation of immigrants.
As followers of Jesus and representatives of the Gospel of Welcome — Grace Turned Outward — we need to make sure we do not participate in these attitudes in any way (remember, sometimes doing nothing is participating) and attempt to stop it when and where we can. It can be subtle — a side comment or a joke — but if you see something, say something.
These are ways in which you and I can make a difference in the world around us and perhaps get an opportunity to explain why we hold deep respect for everyone because of what Christ has done for us all on the cross. How can we hold contempt toward anyone for whom Christ has died?
The problem with race is that it lumps huge groups people into only one category and then you can dismiss them all. As in: all blacks are criminals; all Muslims are terrorists; all Asians are conspirators. It’s absurd, but it’s the way we think. The way to break out of this kind of thinking is to get to know people as individuals. Asian Americans are one thing; MemberPartner Shari Yamamoto, Millennial leader Richard Park, and my urologist, Dr. Singh are something else. Suddenly the category falls away and you realize there is a real person behind that nomenclature and everything changes. Whenever there is talk of race, put a name of someone you know to it and change the picture.
I’ve heard there is a Christian group of Asians and concerned individuals who have coalesced to form an association of people committed to educating everyone about this racial issue and providing some guidelines as to what can be done. Look up Asian American Christian Collaborative if you’d like to find out more. And let’s all commit ourselves to treating everyone with the respect due a child of God, and to putting names on our hearts instead of races, ethnic groups or other classifications — names of people we know and care about, and are getting to know better. That’s the quickest way to get rid of racism.