A public apology to our Asian American brothers and sisters

we at youth specialties really screwed up. big time. i’m ashamed and embarrassed and horrified (and fairly angry, also), and i personally beg the forgiveness of our asian american christian brothers and sisters. i write as an individual christ-follower with responsibility for the systems in our organization which allowed for this offense; and i write as a spokesperson for youth specialties, apologizing on behalf of the whole organization.

in the fall of 2006, we published a book called “skits that teach.” the book contained a skit with a “chinese delivery man” character whose characterization – and, particularly, whose phonetically-spelled accent – was horribly, inexcusably, and unquestionably racist. that this content would appear in a youth specialties book has kept myself and others at ys sleepless this week – not only in our efforts to correct the problem, but in our sorrow over our addition to the prejudice perpetrated against asian americans. if there is ANY place we should expect an exception to the cultural norms on this kind of prejudice, it should be in the church. this kind of racism (intentional or not – that is not at issue here) goes against everything we believe here at ys.

while there was no intention of racism on our part, i do believe this blunder has exposed some systematic issues we must face. what I mean is this: if the character in the skit had been an african american, with similar racial characterization and phonetically-spelled accent, it would not – i believe – have slipped through the administrative cracks in our development process. but, somehow, the characterization that did get printed didn’t register high-enough on the radars of the people who saw it. this, while we might not want to admit it, reveals a systematic racism. and it’s one that I am committed to addressing, in myself (first), and in our organization.

here are the steps we have taken, and will be taking, as it pertains to the “skits that teach” book.

actions already taken:

– the day this issue was brought to the attention of jay howver (our publisher, who was also not aware of the content until that moment), we froze the remaining stock of 1700 copies in the warehouse of zondervan.

– within a day or two, a new version of the pages containing that skit had been edited and designed, and a new edition of the book is already at the printer. the new version should be in stock by mid-march.

– i entered into dialogue with dr. soong-chan rah, a pastor, professor at north park college, and the person who brought this issue to my attention (at about the same time as i was learning about it from within our organization). after several emails, dr. rah and i schedule a phone call for this morning (friday). i wanted to wait to chat with dr. rah before posting this apology, as i wanted to make sure i wasn’t assuming what all the issues were. i wanted to learn more about the background (various christian publishing and ministry issues that have occurred in the last few years). this, to say the least, has been a very educational week for me!

action to be taken in the next week:

– we will link to this public apology in our weekly email next wednesday (which is distributed to approximately 30,000 youth workers).

– we will link to this apology from the front page of our website for a period of time.

– i will personally receive any phone call from an asian american ministry leader who would like to talk, yell, complain, or ask questions. my number at ys is: (619) 440-2333. my email is: [email protected] (that goes directly to me, not to someone who screens my emails – you will receive a response directly from me).

– we will destroy the 1700 copies of the book currently “frozen” in the zondervan warehouse. normally, the stock of a discontinued or out-of-print book is sold off as “remainders” at a highly discounted price, to book liquidators. we want to be sure that not one more copy of the original version of this book sees the light of day.

– we will gladly offer a free copy of the new version of the book to anyone who has the original version. if you have the original version, simply tear out that skit (pages 13 – 16), and send it to youth specialties (300 s. pierce st., el cajon, ca 92020, ATTN: mindi godfrey). be sure to include your shipping address. we’ll send an entire replacement book at no charge to you.

– while there is no way for us to do an actual “recall” of the products that are already in christian bookstores, zondervan will certainly accept returns of that book (as they would of any book).

– our CORE manager (the CORE is our one day training seminar, which takes place in 100 cities over the next few months) just told me she’ll contact all the hosts for this weekend (about 8 or 10) and have them pull all the copies of this book from the sales tables.

i would also like to be clear that zondervan, our parent company, had nothing to do with this mess. they are not involved in our editorial process in a way that anyone at zondervan would have had an opportunity to raise a flag on this.

personally, i look forward to a few things:

– i look forward to the good i believe god can bring from this. i don’t pretend to know what that will look like; but my faith is built on a hope that god loves turning our sin and mess into beauty and restoration.

– i look forward to further interactions with asian american church leaders I have met through this painful process. i welcome your further input. all of us at ys welcome your input.

– i look forward to continuing my learning about the unique prejudices tolerated in our culture against asian americans. i asked dr. rah for a couple book suggestions that would further my understanding, and have already ordered the two he suggested.

SUNDAY NIGHT UPDATE
a handful of comments and updates:

— first, i want to express my deep gratitude for the wonderful expressions of forgiveness in the comments below, as well as the emails i’ve received. it’s been meaningful in a way that goes beyond my ability to formulate it into words.

— i continue to be blown away and saddened by my ignorance, and our collective cultural ignorance, about prejudice toward asian americans. while i instantly saw the character in the skit as something i was embarassed by, and didn’t want in a ys product, i have still had my eyes seriously opened this week as i’ve read blog after blog and comment upon comment expressing the hurts and prejudices perpetrated against asian americans. my parents — two of the most godly people i know — and i were email-chatting about this in the last couple days. they have spent their lives in missions, particularly to and with asian cultures. we grew up with asians and asian americans in our home constantly, with asian pieces of art on the walls, with a dad who few to asian countries long before people traveled by air as they do these days. in other words, i would like to think me and my parents had a heightened awareness of asian american issues, and a deeper experience base of real and valued relationships with asian americans. but my parents expressed that they sobbed when they read this public apology; and one of the reasons was because their eyes were being opened to the depth of the pain and hurt we all have caused (and how unaware we have been). i am “soaking in this” now, trying to listen to god as to what he would have me do.

— i had a twinge of “OH NO!” today, in response to a gracious email from an asian american pastor’s wife, who mentioned something about the non-church leaders who are impacted by prejudice and caricature (most of my thinking has been of church leaders, since that’s who we deal with predominantly, here at youth specialties). what hit me was a vision of an asian american kid sitting in a youth group somewhere, in a mostly white church, where this skit was being performed. i know i can’t feel the depth of what that would be like: but i think, in that moment, god gave me an emotional-taste of that sense. i began weeping instantly. in that light: please, if you are a youth worker who has purchased this book from us, please do not use that skit whether you have asian american kids in your group or not. please send it back or tear it out. argh. i know “that kid” isn’t just a metaphor, or a symbol. that kid is a real kid who will be dying inside, and, likely, seeing laughing faces looking to him (or her) for justification that “this is ok, right?”

— a word about the editor and the authors. several have asked me, in the comments below and in private emails, to address them. these requests have come with a variety of tone — from those who seem ready to lynch the editor and authors, to those who are just curious. first, let me say this: i have intentionally NOT been naming them for a couple reasons:
first, i know these three guys (the one editor and two authors). and i know their hearts. i know they are good and godly guys who had no evil intent. i know they are sickened (really, physically) by the pain they have caused.
second, and more important to me, is that i believe (and felt conviction from god this week) that naming them is passing the buck. in other words, i felt that naming them in any context was setting them up as scapegoats, and positioning ys as “not completely responsible.” and i don’t believe that to be true. whatever person or persons were involved in this, we (ys, the organization) have to take full responsibility for it. it would be a coward’s move to do otherwise, and would — i believe — draw attention away from the real issue, the ignorance we (caucasians) all have when it comes to asian americans.

— that said, i do want to specifically mention the skit guys, now, at their request. they have posted an apology on their site: please read it here. i realize that many will think their apology is too late. i would humbly and gently push back on that, for a few reasons:
first, i know the journey these guys went on in the past couple weeks. my journey, from horror laden with defensiveness, to a simple and pure desire for forgiveness and growth, could only have been greater for them. and, as i said above, i know these guys and i know their hearts. yes, what they wrote was stupid and clearly showed the ignorance that i, myself (and, as i’m coming to see, most caucasian americans) share, when it comes to asian americans.
second, they needed to process their understanding. people were frustrated with me, also, that i didn’t respond publically more quickly. but i was convinced that i needed to spend some time on the phone with dr. rah first, so that my response was truly from a place of understanding, not just more uninformed presumption. i think the same has been true for tommy and eddie.
third, i would ask that you make the choice to trust the honesty and sincerity of their apology. you may be tempted to discredit their apology for one reason or another. i’m telling you it’s sincere.

— one final thing for now: a few have asked me to share what books dr. rah recommended. you bet! i asked him for one that would help me understand these issues in a broader cultural context, and one that would help me understand them better in a ministry context. for the former, he recommended Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, by Frank Wu; and for the latter, he recommended Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, by emerson and smith (this latter book isn’t specific to asian american issues, but pertains to race and the american church).

165 thoughts on “A public apology to our Asian American brothers and sisters”

  1. Thank you Mark for your actions on this matter. It reflects a tremendous humility to take correction and to act accordingly. The publication of this book was a significant sin committed in the public arena, but YS’ actions are a significant and important act of public confession and repentance. Thanks for your personal concern and effort.

    Soong-Chan Rah
    Milton B. Engebretson Assistant Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism
    North Park Theolgoical Seminary
    Chicago, IL

  2. Marko
    My respect for you has enlarged even more with your apology. I am not Asian, but I am Jewish and a follower of Jesus, and I have felt, seen and heard anti-semitic comments in the church since I came to Christ as a late teen. It hurts, as I am sur it hurt some Asian Americans. I am proud of you for catching this and speaking to it and apologizing. You are very teachable and I appreciate you for being honest and humble.

    Blessings

    David Olshine
    Director of Youth Ministries
    Columbia Inter. University

  3. i can only speak for myself, but i am glad to read your post today. i was shocked, angry, hurt and disappointed when i read the offensive skit in that book. it was hard for me to believe that youth specialties could have released something like this. as a youth pastor for the past ten years, i have come to know (and trust) the integrity and usefulness of ys releases.

    more than just your apology (for which i am also thankful), i am encouraged to hear about your recognition of some of the larger, systemic issues going on here.

    as God’s people, we are all responsible for working toward justice and reconciliation. i commend you for taking personal responsibility and working towards a broader reconciliation. as a member of the asian-american christian community i want not only to point out the wrong that has occurred, but to work together toward understanding.

    in the end, i believe these are issues that affect all of us as followers of Jesus — asian-american or otherwise. hopefully, we can continue to move forward. though the path is difficult, and fraught with the dangers of miscommunication & misunderstanding, it is worth it to build up God’s kingdom in all of its beautiful diversity.

  4. Marko- If only more churches and organizations were willing to step up and admit when they screwed up. You and Youth Specialties screwed up. Way to fix it in a way that shows integrity, humility, honesty and guts. I’m praying that this goes a long ways to grow everyone.

    Some of my best parent meetings ever were ones in which we were discussing things which had gone wrong. It is usually during the broken times that we are able to go deeper to the root causes.

    -Rood

  5. Marko –

    As I sat in my office today refreshing your page every hour or so, I recall my sense of entitlement coming to the fore wanting another gem of your wisdom or sense of humor. Perhaps for a short instant, I thought maybe you had taken Friday off and said a quick word of praise for your fortunes, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    I am so sorry that this happened to YS. I am so sorry, because I would have missed the exact same thing. I am so sorry for my selfishness, that while you were enduring this day, I was taking it easy wondering where my “marko” dose was.

    But I praise God (and you in appropriate proportions) for the awareness and healing that will come from this mistake and your subsequent apology and actions. Thank you for being a great example for us to follow, both in success and in failure. I hope those of us who look up to you are wise enough to pay attention and learn from this.

  6. Mark,
    thanks for the post and your sincere apologies. like others before me and after me, i believe that your posture will go a long way towards a journey we all need to face – both our systemic and personal prejudices.

    there are couple additonal things i’d like to suggest (at least for thought):

    1. an encouragement to the authors of ‘skits that teach’ for a pubic apology as well.
    2. an opportunity for asian-american participants at the next national YS pastors’ convention to meet with some of the YS leaders/board to be able to discuss, chat, and pray. i think your particpation would be critical in that meeting. in addition, i’d love for the authors of skis that teach to be there – not to elevate tension but to live out and demonstrate the process of learning and reconciliation.

    we met a while ago and i’m sure you don’t remember; i barely remember as well but look forward to the crossing paths again.

    peace to you.

    eugene cho | http://eugenecho.wordpress.com

  7. It gives me hope, that you and YS have the integrity to issue this apology and to take action in the ways you have and will…

    Peace to you.

  8. wow! thanks for integrity in a situation that most of us would just hope would go away on it’s own.

    it’s so easy to accept or overlook these “harmless little” prejudices in our lives when in fact they are just one more way we fool ourselves and harm and separate us from other Christians of all races and cultures.

    thanks for sharing your apology with all of us and showing us another way to liveCHRIST!

  9. ps. maybe you should frame the pages in the ys offices as a reminder for all of how sin so easily entraps us and creeps in and how we can become blind to it if we are not always on our guard together.

  10. Mark,

    It was a pleasure speaking to you on the phone yesterday. Thank you so much for rectifying this matter publicly. Thank you for validating our feelings and seeking to understand our wounds. I appreciate our conversation and wish the best for YS as we co-labor to see God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. I pray that we might break those systems that you mention where racism exists at every level and in every arena of society.
    Blessings,
    David

  11. Mark, Thank you for your apology personally and on behalf of your organization. Your corrective actions are commendable, and I personally think your consideration of systemic issues demonstrates sincerity and due diligence, taking that extra step to remove underlying blind spots.

    DJ Chuang
    Executive Director
    L2 Foundation http://www.L2Foundation.org
    developing leadership and legacy for Asian Americans

  12. Marko
    Can I ask what action, if any, has been taken with the people who wrote and submitted the offensive material, and also, if any action has been taken with the person(s) responsible for editing the book?

  13. I have to say I am blown away by the response … most would leave it at an apology; to destroy thousands of copies, do a new printing, and offer free replacement copies speaks volumes of your desire to go above and beyond to pursue healing. Most companies wouldn’t voluntarily go so far – I think that speaks volumes of YS’ heart for ministry and youth workers.

  14. Thank you for setting an example of strong leadership – leading with love for your neighbor, a contrite and integrous heart, and humility.

    “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

  15. Hi Mark,

    I only got to your site through a friend’s site. I’m glad you made these changes.

    I am an Asian-American that grew up in B’ham, AL. For the longest time, one of my white female friends told me how great and awesome her church was – the people in her church. Growing up with blatant racism everywhere I turned, not being able to even walk down the hallways of my school without hearing the word chink, after years, I finally gathered enough courage to go with her. There was no blatant racism there, only silence. I was ignored as if I was a fly on the wall as if I was not good enough to fit into their body, their church, their “way of life”. Afterwards, my friend apologized profusely to me, because she saw a side of “her people” that she had never seen, because she had always been “one of them”. She scolded her peers many times, for she knew that would be the last time I would ever step foot into an all white church. Asian-American churches exist for a reason. Without them, those like me would be utterly lost and have no where to turn. The systematic racism against Asian-Americans comes all too naturally in our society. You have no idea what it is like. Even though I”m in Chicago, it’s still around us, but unless you are in our shoes, how can you experience it. When Pearl Harbor the movie came out, my brother went to school in Schaumburg, and there were students that muttered under their breath, “I hate those damn Japs that bombed Pearl Harbor”. It didn’t matter what ethnicity my brother was. When I went to AL to visit, I go to a pizza parlor, and I order a pizza, and I give my first name, and the lady asked me for my last, and before I can say anything, she says, “Is it . Lee”. I feel anger, I feel sad, because the only Asian person this person has any idea of is Bruce Lee and automatically that’s what she thinks my last name must be. I got to Woodfield Mall with my wife, and there are a group of highschool kids who shout out “Ching, chong, chung, chong”. Where did those highschool kids learn this from? Here in our “diverse” city we call Chicago, we think we have escaped from one hell to a better place, only to discover that this hurt and pain is everywhere. You have no idea what it is like not to be white, to live in our shoes, to be only half accepted in a country that values only 1 color.

    Again, I want to stress, I applaud you for the steps you’ve taken. It’s more than what most people would have done. Perhaps there will come a time when all of God’s children can worship together.

    Blake Ma

  16. I also feel it’s important to not only acknowledge the very couragous action by Youth Specialties to make a public apology, but to extend public forgiveness as well. I don’t speak on behalf of anyone else, but as someone who was personally deeply wounded by this material — I extend forgiveness to Youth Specialties.

    Soong-Chan

  17. Mr. Oestreicher,
    Thank you for the apology.
    I can’t remember the last time a Christian public figure owned up to something with so much honesty and integrity. Your actions and words have more than just patched things up….I sense God’s kingdom is advancing through this, and you and Dr. Rah are going to lead the way. Exactly where this takes us, I don’t know, but I can’t think of two better men to champion the cause. This thing could have got downright ugly, but in the end cooler heads prevailed.

    You have modeled integrity, humility, courage, and leadership. Many are now saying that because of your proven character through this trial, doors will open,and your sphere of influence will grow, Prayer of Jabez style. I, for one, certainly hope so.

    I posted this comment on my blog to serve as a book-end to what is now thankfully a mere bump in the road along the way.
    Thank you Marko, for showing us how “to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

    emergingtruth

  18. Mark,
    Hey Bro, first i want to say that i have mad love and respect for you. I didn’t know of this until recently. I am deeply sorry for all that YOU had to endure and to state the obvious “GOD is going to bless you for this.” Unfortunately we face that all around us, you,me and every other human being dead or alive. I’m sorry that my Asian american brothers and sisters were the example of this but the lesson learned is not just for you, it’s for all of us asian americans included. I believe that this was an avenue that GOD used to wake up the many of us who struggle with racism. Everyone does and no one is exempt from it. GOD used you my friend to shed a little light to all of us and to this dark secret that we hold in our hearts of hate. LOVE conquers all. Thanks for being the messenger!

  19. as someone on the outside looking in i say ‘thank you’. your example (again) here marko is one that i pray finds it’s way into churches and boards across the kingdom.

    i believe that conflict is the bridge to community. if we run from it or shirk our responsibilities in the middle of it we can never find the health and healing we all long for.

    you apology stands as a beacon on ‘how to’ and i am so moved to see the integrity and depth of soul you, and ys have brought to this interaction. yac is bustin’ his buttons right now!

  20. Mark,
    As someone who was also deeply wounded by your material, I appreciate your apology and I do extend forgiveness as well. I’m encouraged that you are willing to be vulnerable and admit wrongdoing, offering your sincere regrets. This has been a learning experience for me as well. My heart echoed with the cries of Blake Ma above and I am thankful that you are taking very positive steps to make things right. Thank you for me how to handle conflict graciously and admit shortcomings humbly.

  21. I am in awe of your personal integrity and the organizational integrity of Y.S. It is inspiring and convicting to witness a true and honest moment from a fellow follower of Christ.

  22. Hello Mark,
    Thanks for your sincere apology.
    I am an Asian-American pastor. I was disgusted with the skit, but not so much for the stereo-typing of Asian Americans. I was disgusted more for the images, repeated, of “eat poo, while its still warm.” These type of images have no place in a church youth skit.
    I, personally, think that some stereo-typing can be funny, and if the shoe fits, it fits (funny pronunciation, etc. I make fun of my own father and mother for their accents.).
    However, what I hope YS will pay attention to is to have a balance of what is real, and what is edifying. Crass images of eating feces is neither, no matter the race behind the stereotype.

  23. Dear Mark, it is with heavy heart that we sometimes have to work out these issues. It is part of the process of engaging and sometimes there are collisions. I think that as a broader and more long-term and directed issue is for us to come to terms with the prevailing environment of exclusion and omission of Asian Americans in the broader context that I hope you consider being a voice to some of these issues and how this has changed your perspective in publishing, ministry and kingdom vision. I appreciate your gesture and don’t want it to end with this episode but rather I invite you to be part of what has happened in the Asian American Christian community…I hope we can talk and learn more from this together…and collide well… and reconcile well…we need each other…more than we think.

  24. Mark,

    I enjoyed YS stuff as a youth pastor and I don’t feel that YS meant any harm by this situation.

    It is not in anyone’s best interest to be racist or be deliberately hateful towards any person, nor is it Christ-like. I am sad that so many people felt offended but I wonder if we in America are starting to get too sensitive about every little comment (or picture)when it comes to race, age, body type, economic background, religion, etc. Personally I think some people need to get some thick skin.

    I know personally what it’s like in many ways to be teased, made fun of, or stereo-typed so I can feel at liberty to say such a thing. I had more Asian and black friends than white and while there were times that they endured hardships, they never whined about their mistreatment. And they never called themselves African-American, Mexican-American, or Asian American…we were just plain Americans.

    What frustrates me is that we have more Christians get upset and voice their concern over a “cultural or racial mistake” than who will stand up for our Lord and Savior when His name is blasphemed or made to look like an idiot on shows such as South Park.

    I regret that our brothers and sisters were offended and I hope not to sound callous or harsh…I just wish that we could turn our cheek sometimes and be unified as AMERICAN CHRISTIANS instead.

  25. Mark,

    Thank you for surprising this cynic. Your acknowledgment of your sins and blindspots has caused me to evaluate mine as well. Thank you for your humility to take correction and to listen to our concerns

    In response to “rolling disciple”, your comments only reinforce the glaring systemic racism that exists in the church today. This is not an issue of political correctness. This is an issue of treating your brothers and sisters in Christ with dignity and respect. I simply do not understand how we can possibly be “unified American Christians” as you put it when you keep slapping me the cheek and expect me to take it. Your logic makes no sense. Period.

    Mark, if these are the typical youth pastors of America, God help us all.

  26. Ben Lin … the skit wasn’t making reference to eating feces, it was referring to the pu pu platter. As a reader who has the book, it never occured to me that anyone could take it any other way … I was always under the impression that that is one of the most popular dishes. You changed the spelling in your quote from “pu” to “poo” which would completely change the meaning. Let’s not try to find even more things wrong or villify the writers/YS for made up accusations – if you’re going to quote something, please make sure you quote the spelling correctly, not change it to suit your accusation.

  27. Hi Mark – because I know the goodness of your being, I can only imagine the pain you are in. I am thinking of you, but also of those that have been offended. So, you are taking actions for your company, but what do the rest of us do? Maybe a good time to think, what do I do or say that adds to racism? – what WILL I do or say that adds to racial harmony – what responsibility will I take? Love you Mark

  28. Thank you to each of my Asian American brothers who have poignantly expressed some of what you face on an all too regular basis. Thank you, Eugene, for your suggestion that conversation continue at the next YS pastors’ convention ’cause this isn’t ended and rooted out simply by a public apology and reissung of books. It IS systemic, and I’m glad that Marko so clearly called it that.

    Marko, I truly am mystified that such an offensive skit could’ve made it past all your folks in publishing without it even raising a flag that maybe it’s offensive?? I do hope that your staff will engage in a series of conversations with people of color to become further aware of systemic racism and of white privilege.
    I totally concur with you that had such a skit been directed at African Americans, it would never have seen the blot of publishers’ ink.

    Several months ago you posted something about a “Chinese fire drill” and you wondered where the origin of the term came. Some of us answered. And nope, ‘rolling disciple,’ it’s not about developing a thicker skin. We root out injustice to one another, beginning with looking at ourselves and our institutions.

    Marko, would you mind sharing the names of the books that Dr. Rah recommended?

    Thank you for your heartfelt, beautifully communicated words of apology, Marko.

  29. Rolling Disciple,

    That’s great you and all of your friends grew up as Americans. Unfortunately, where I grew up I was Chinese and only ever that. It didn’t matter how well I spoke English, or that I was born in the US. I go home to AL and everywhere I go people ask me where I’m from as if waiting to hear some exotic location in “The Orient”. It’s my home, yet the people there do no think it is. It wasn’t until college that my identity became that of an Asian-American. I will never be just American. When your’re told from the day your born that you’re not only different but disgusting and should go back to China where they eat dogs, what do you expect?
    If African-Americans had not “whined”, Asian-Americans would still be sitting in the back of the bus, we would be barred from universities all around the country, we would not be able to marry across race. Did you know their were still anti-miscegenation laws in the 60’s against white and chinese marriages?

    When I was in the 6th grade, there was 1 black student in the grade, and he was called the “N” word. I thought all hell had broke lose. Teachers called parent conferences, they brought counselors in to talk to the kids, and it never happened again. Nobody cared what I was called or how I was treated. Why? Asian-Americans have not been vocal enough like the African-Americans. We’re told to be passive and just be the good “model minority”, and we’re told by people like you not to whine, because it will all go away. You need to open up your eyes, because things have not changed. Just 5 years ago, I pulled my brother out of the 10th grade in AL, because he got so much abuse, so much hate, he became so quiet, so reserved, afraid. It’s not a way to live, its not a way a human being should be treated. No human being. Yes, I am angry, but I have a right to be. No voice will silence mine.

    When you are not the one being mistreated and abused, it’s easy to ignore. Have some compassion. All I hope is that one day my kids will be able to grow up in an environment where they can be happy and accepted for who they are as people.

    Blake Ma

  30. I mean no disrespect to anyone and that was not my intention.

    Kenneth Liu..I never said that we should not treat anyone with disrespect or do I condone racism. To imply that I am racist you cannot judge without knowing my heart.

    In junior high and high school I got in many debates and some fights defending the rights of my Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, African, and even homosexual friends. I alienated myself from “white” friends that I knew since kindergarten because I value the lives of EVERYONE then and now! But the shoe can also fit the other foot.

    I have American friends who have been in China and Korea and suffered the same mis-treatment that Chinese and Korean people face here. I think that is an eye-opening experience that everyone should see but it is no different here than from other countries or cultures. Plus, do I dare say that if we are to be TRULY honest, we all have some type of racial attitudes towards others or stereotypes we have laughed at or implied?

    I regret that many people have to deal with the unfortunate circumstances like Blake Ma wrote about and it really does make me sad. I have been mistreated and abused and I have every right to be angry (and believe me I used to be) but I prayed to forgive my enemies and oppressors, and try to love them all that more (which at times I fail miserably). What I am saying is that sometimes we have to rise above the circumstances and remember that God is in control. We can talk about unity and a world of no racism but this side of heaven, because of our sin, that will never happen.

    I suppose my main point was if Jesus could take the beatings, the hatred, the abuse, and the ridicule that He did for us and still forgive us – and if He is our model of the Christian faith – should we not try and do the same?

    I have the right to call myself a Dutch-American and educate people that not all people from the Netherlands stick their fingers in dikes, speak funny, and wear wooden shoes but to me that is a waste of time and energy. Let people think what they will. My goal is to preach Christ crucified.

    Please know my brothers and sisters that my goal was not to say brush racism, stereotypes, and culture bashing under a rug and just forget about it. I do think that there are some bigger battles we need to face that will deal with eternity than just dealing with the fleshly abuse we take here, right now.

    I love you all and apologize if my comments seem wrongly said but they are meant with the right heart.

  31. I’m writing to stand up against what “rolling disciple” shared. This is directed toward him:

    I am a white girl but grew up in an area where my race was the minority. For the first 16 years of my life I was made fun of and even beat up because I was white. I dreamed many, many times to be black, asian or hispanic, just to be something else where I didn’t have blonde hair and blue eyes.

    Rolling disciple, I am not surprised at all that your friends never “whined” about their mistreatment to you because you wouldn’t have understood. When you don’t share in the pain, it’s hard for you to relate.

    Thank God that people like Rosa Parks and MLK Jr. and so many others chose to “whine” about their misfortunes because segregation is not tolerated anymore. Thank God that people like the suffragettes rose up to let their “little” misfortunes be heard because now women can vote and we’ve even got a women running for President now.

    Change does NOT come from staying silent and “turning the other cheek”. There is a time and place to do that but when racism and stereotyping is occuring, it doesn’t matter how many cheeks are turned, it will only get worse.

    Remember about a “little” guy named Hitler? Think of how many cheeks were turned to his chaotic reign and how many suffered because of it. Even today, the holocaust is disputed because people like to turn their cheeks and brush problems under the rug.

    You know how so much violence and sex and language made it onto primetime television? From people like you, turning the other cheek, just hoping it would all go away.

    On your blog, you mentioned that you would never run to any [group] to have them protect you from people condemning Christianity. Let me tell you why you wouldn’t; because the “leader” is God. He protects His own group and His own people. We, as Christians, don’t need to have an agency with a human leader to protect us, the Creator of the universe can handle His own.

    Oh and, “props” to you for having such thick skin. However, when cops start consistently pulling you over, you are followed around a store to make sure you don’t steal anything, people continually shut you out of friendships and conversations, your children are getting beat up and you are looked down on and talked/whispered about all because of your RACE, then let us know how “thick” your skin still is.

  32. I am sorry to hear about the material in the book. I don’t have the book and have actually never read through it. I am glad to hear the response you and the rest of the YS staff are taking (have taken) to stop this from being a further problem.

    As has already been said, it is a big step not to just apologize, but to take the prints out of circulation and allow people to receive a new copy. Not to mention the open lines of communication you are wanting to have with anyone who wants to talk. Thanks for the integrity and humility to take these steps. You and the staff at YS are def. more concerned with people than money.

  33. Thanks for taking quick action on this: first as a Christian, in allowing God to soften your heart. Second as a publisher, in taking decisive measures to control the distribution of the skit.

  34. Marko…

    Thank you so much! If only others had done something like this with some unfortunate VBS material several years ago!

    As someone who was teased because of my last name and my heritage…I am honestly not sure if I would have been surprised to see that skit in the book and if I did what would have registered in my mind.

  35. My name is Ben Pun, I’m a youth director at a Chinese church and am myself Chinese-American. I’m very discouraged by comments like Danny’s :”it’s a freakin sketch!” I hope that we can learn to try to things in other people’s perspective. As a Caucasian, you probably might think that, but as an Asian-American, I’m offended. But I have to turn the microscope back to me and say am I okay with making jokes about rednecks? I wonder, is it EVER okay to make jokes using racial stereostypes? I think the hard answer to that question is no.

  36. Marko-

    You are all class! Thank you forgoing all out to fix the problem….

    I used your Dares from Jesus curriculum on a retreat this weekend and this morning we used the lesson on Love and your paraphrased version of the love chapter….

    Your actions (on behalf of YS) truly brought that to life!

  37. Mark –

    Thanks for being a model of what it means to be a Christian.

    Everyone who commented offering forgiveness –

    Thanks for modeling what it means to “be Christ” to one another.

  38. Marko,

    One more thot about what IS tolerated against Asian Americans, but not African Americans. Do you think it would be ‘okay’ if we called them “African American Fire Drills” or “African American Auctions?” Nope, so it also shouldn’t be okay to call them “Chinese Fire Drills” or “Chinese Auctions” as these terms are
    not meant to portray Chinese in a good light.

    Hope you’ll post the books that Dr. Rah suggested when you have time.

    Best,

  39. I hate blogs in some ways that you can’t always communicate your thoughts in the way it is intended to be. This will be the last I post on this issue.

    Dear “Asian-Americans” and others, I understand the sensitivity of this issue and I do not mean that we should ignore the fact that you feel offended. I am sorry that you have had to experience hardships in different ways. There are many hurtful things that happen to us – because our ethnicity, economic background, or even looks. It is not right and it is a shame. However, life is not a fair deal and there are many groups who have been dealt a hard blow such as the Jewish people in the Holocaust; African people with slavery in America; the Native Americans for having their land stolen; the Chinese with forced labor in building railroads; we could go on and on. ALL of these instances were cruel, unjust, and plain heart-breaking!!!

    No, we are not to just always sit back and take a blow. Thank God for Gandhi, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr. There are many people who have stood up for their rights and what they believe in and I agree we need to do that. But there are many great people who have endured more hardship than we could ever imagine who have forgiven their aggressors, who have chosen to rise above the injustice, and found bigger battles to enter than over a word or a picture.

    Jen, how do you know what I have been through and experienced in my life? Do you know the abuse and insensitive comments that I received as a child and teenager? Did you experience the same harsh treatment I did because I stood up for every kid I could that was picked on because they were not white Caucasian? I was called a white gook, American VC, a traitor, an “N” lover, and many other things because I would not stand for this type of behavior going on. Believe me; I know what it’s like and you should not be quick to judge.

    Do I know of a “little guy” named Hitler? As a matter of fact I do, in a very personal way. My mother and her family received the full effect of Hitler and the SS in occupied Holland during WW2. I can tell you the stories of how they watched their friends being skinned alive and hung from telephone polls for refusing to join the German Army, the Gestapo busting into their factory and shooting people for no reason, and how my grandfather risked his life for saving and evacuating Jews, American Paratroopers, and Queen Wilhelmina from Hitler’s henchmen. After the war they immigrated to America where foreigners weren’t treated fairly (like today) but they refused to let that affect their lives by learning English, working hard, and starting a successful business. If anyone had racism and circumstances to be bitter about it was them, but they forgave others and were thankful for being alive as well as their freedom in the United States.

    As for truly knowing what it’s like to be a minority, I can only guess, but at times the typical white guy in America is treated like one. It’s almost non-existent for us to get grants, financial assistance, jobs we’re qualified for, health insurance for low cost or free, or many of the other benefits that others enjoy in this country (even those that come here illegally) – even though I served my country for the freedom you have to blog your thoughts. We all suffer in some ways but we can choose to let those situations control us or we can move above and beyond them. Some things are worth refusing to leave the bus for and others aren’t.

    Great job YS on doing the right thing!

  40. Thank you Marko for posting this!

    I don’t feel the need to re-iterate everything that others have said, but speaking for myself, I believe that this apology is a fantastic step, and I believe, it is VERY meaningful to Christians of Asian American heritage who often feel marginalized in this country simply because of their race (yes, even in the Church).

    May God bless you and YS for your willingness to do what is right and to mend the wounds that had been caused. I hope this is the beginning of a larger dialogue!

  41. Rolling Disciple,

    Those in the majority in this country, i.e., Caucasians, should not be the ones to dictate to people of color that they, in essence, should ‘get over it’ (not your words, but kinda how your words sound) and ‘rise above’ the injustices committed. It sounds a bit like, “C’mon pull yourselves up by your bootstraps.”

    I think those of us who are white, outta shut up and LISTEN to the stories that our brothers and sisters tell who are living it, day by day. And when we’re tempted to spew, “Ah, c’mon, lots of people have it rough – get over it,” we outta shut up some more and listen again. and again. and again. If we do so, what we hear might actually penetrate into our hearts and cause us to work for change.

    As far as being a trampled upon white male, I don’t buy it. You and I, by virture of being Caucasian in this society, benefit DAILY from an implied and oh-so-evident white privilege. We’re not whispered about when we enter a store and followed by salespeople ’cause we just might steal something. We’re not stopped by police just ’cause we’re driving a nice car and how on earth could a person pf color legitimately own one? Must be stolen. We didn’t have to wait until 1964 for Civil Rights legislation. We weren’t interred during WWII in THIS country AS citizens just ’cause of being Japanese. We haven’t had our eyes pulled down in a derogatory way. We’ve benefited for YEARS for an implied and existent preference to whites. So nope, my heart doesn’t bleed when white folks in this country say that THEY are the ones being treated like minorities.

    Again, to Eugene and Blake and Peter and Kenneth and Ben and Daniel and David, thank you. I’m the mother of an Asian American child and I see the impact of racism upon her strong, tender heart. Things ain’t gonna change in this country for Asian Americans until WE in the church admit there is a problem, admit the systemic racism that exists and work together to root it out. In that vein, I’ve gotta thank you, Marko, for your actions.

  42. Marko,

    As an 11 year old girl, people tend to think that we don’t understand. But when my mom read your apology, I actually understood more than most people think, and what I understood hurt me and hurt me deeply.

    And though you may apologize, the hurt stays, and whoever has read what that book wrote about Asians, it will stay with them, and while it stays with them, it prints an image of us. And the more they think of it, the worse they think of us, and the higher they think of themselves.

    And even as we fight for ourselves, we are looked down upon, and we have to look up, and while we’re at the bottom of the tunnel and white people are on top, while we fight, we know that we won’t get to the top without your help.

    And that’s why we would like people to reallly think of what they’re writing or what they’re doing, and to question if they’re hurting someone, whether intentional or not. We would like you to think of your brothers and sisters out there being treated so unfairly and looked down upon and almost brushed away like a piece of dust.

    And when you wrote your apology, it helped us gain the hearts of people out there, and I, as an Asian am happy that someone decided to stick up for us.

    “Oregonian’s” 11 year old Asian-American daughter who hopes that one day we’ll ALL be called Americans

    (Her proud mom wanted you to know that she teared up quite a bit as she read Marko’s apology, rolling disciple’s words, and as she wrote her own)

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