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. Mark,

    I believe that God will use this incident to bring healing, reconciliation, and repentance in His church. I got referred to this post just as I was studying for my Modern Church History Final at Fuller. I had just finish reading about Richard Allen, an African American preacher who left St. George’s Church in Philadelphia after an African American man got escorted out of the church for praying in the front of the church after service. Allen helped form the AME church.

    We’re all imperfect and have a long way to go. God is in the process of purifying His Bride and He is not done with us!

    I’m an Asian American youth pastor of a predominantly AA church in the Los Angeles area and I want to thank you for your apology. I receive it as a validation of the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) racism that we Asians still encounter in America. Thank you for being strong enough to point out the wrong and to change it. God bless you.

    YS products have benefited my group in the past (just used the “Spell My Feet” Game this past weekend) and I will continue to use them in the future.

    Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

  2. Wow, as I sat here and read through the apology,my first thought was: Nice job. Then as I read down the comments I saw things that just plain bothered me.
    First, I am a Hispanic guy-24 years old. So yes, I do understand what it’s like to be pulled over (and in one case) pulled out of my car by a police officer because my tail light was out-and other times for no reason. I know what it’s like to be called names that I’m not going to write down. I know what it’s like to be followed around by a security guard in a mall. I also know what its like to walk into a Christian bookstore and watch the YP in front of me (25 year old white guy) get the pastor discount without a problem, but when I tried I had to pull out my church id.
    I watched a movie the other day where it made a joke about Puerto Ricans and Mexicans. I laughed. (Gasp) I am Puerto Rican, yet I laughed… why? because I have come to a place where I understand that some people are jerks, some people are racist against me because of the color of my skin. Some people talk about me because of the God I serve. It’s life. And thank God I have more to look forward to than this world.

    With that said-I agree with rollingdiciple, why is it that any minority group (in this case asian, in other cases african, in other cases hispanic, and so on) seem to look for something to get upset about?
    My best friend is a white police officer in NYC. A few weeks ago while pulling over a car for the tags being expired he was shot at. After a short chase in which other officers were involved in they stopped the car. The man opened his door and began once again to fire at police. They returned fire killing him and firing 20shots to his 7. Now does it really matter what color this mans skin is? No, but of course it was white cops killing a black man for no reason. I really am bothered by things like this because it makes every minority group look bad. You wonder why the majority does not understand why this would be upsetting? Because by our actions we have allowed them to. When everything becomes a race issue, and I am not naive to believe that most things aren’t; we’re causing the problem just as much as anyone else.

    With that being said there is no place for any kind of racism in YS books nor in the church. And for those of us who have been hurt because of a church body based on our color-instead of sulking and feeling sorry for ourselves-maybe we should show the people who just dont understand our culture, how to understand it. Maybe instead of saying “Well I’m going to an Asian, Hispanic, or African American church, we’ll just go to church.
    By saying things like that we are continuing to put walls up between us, which is what the enemy wants us to do. Divide and conquer. Please, some things are worth throwing the race card out for, most are not.

  3. Before this post gets lost in annals of the second page I wanted to post one more thought.

    I’ve visited this post many times to read others thoughts; as well as visit their blogs in regards to this and I’ve noticed many disturbing trends.

    Marko thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability. It is uncommon (even in the church) for such candor and soul searching in regards to such issues. After visiting many sites that were linked through these posts I was disturbed to notice that not many of the posters here acknowledged their need to grow in this matter. Most of them smack of a “Vindication is ours tone” but yet not one of them acknowledges that the American church needs to heal. And that healing will come through understanding on all sides of the equation. Again (see my previous post)

    “So I have one question for everyone…When will we stop holing ourselves up in our sanctimonious, and homocentric steeples and preach about the reconciliation of Christ and ignore the separation of our body?”

    Having grown up in Detroit (Marko you can attest) the city is much divided. Hispanics (Southwest side) Polish and Yugoslavians (Hamtramck) African Americans (Northwest side) Irish (East Detroit) etc… Unfortunately many of our churches are the same way. I attended Temple Baptist essentially in Detroit (Redford). 5000 people and 90% white suburbanites. The church that in that location at the time; Straightgate 5000 people 90% African Americans. ??????. Temple Baptist is now moved to the Suburbs…Straightgate is still in Detroit.
    I don’t know how it is in other cities…But I would love to know if it’s different. I know of one church in Grand Rapids that is truly diverse; but it came at a cost. They were thinking about moving to the suburbs to escape urban blight and their pastor challenged the congregation to re-think and to examine what Christ was calling them too! Most of the previous congregation left and they started over. Today almost 7 years later they are pretty close to 50% white and 50% minority groups. What an amazing testimony to the power of God.

    I ache and weep (not hyperbole) about separation of races in the church. It will only change when everyone decides to step out and recognize their own biases and need to create a “comfort” zone of familiarity.

    Thanks for listening. My prayer is for continued growth and understanding.

    In Him,
    Chris

  4. Hey did you know that the material is still up on the internet, in a google cache? I wonder if they would remove it for you.

  5. It’s kind of ironic that the title of the book is “Skits That Teach.” Looks like someone needs to act out some of the skits to the authors, Eddie James and Tommy Woodard and teach them some lessons about stereotyping and racism.

    Mark your apology was moving and there’s something amazing about God’s grace and how it transforms sinners like us from one glory to another, but I personally won’t be rushing out to pick up the “new” version of the book anytime soon.

    Rosanna
    Korean American Youth Pastor

  6. i’m pleased by what YS have done. but you have done what is right, so i’m not sure you need to be congratulated for that.

    i’m deeply impressed by the courage of those who confronted YS and stood their ground to be heard.

  7. I read the skit and laughed. It was funny. When did we forget to laugh at ourselves. Has anyone ever been to an Asian resteraunt. Many times the person working there has poor english, so what. Should I be offended if someone made fun of my southern accent. Maybe any ethnic show on TV should be taken off the air.
    I know I’m gonna get slammed for saying all this, but I do not want my book replaced and I don’t think this in anyway reflects poorly on the “Skit Guys”.
    “Eddie James and Tommy Woodard and teach them some lessons about stereotyping and racism.”-so what you are saying is that there isn’t a single Chinese delivery guy in the country that talks like the guy in the skit? Most skits are based in reality.
    In no way did I see Asians in a lesser light by what was in the skit. Nor do I think they all talk like the guy in the skit. Just like I don’t think all Asians are good in Math, or all Mexicans are illegal, or etc.
    Someone mentioned earlier about tv and the lack of Asian heroes that weren’t kung fu oriented. Check out the show Heroes. The character Hiro rocks!
    If I wanted to I could draw racial messages in that show: a haitian can “steal your memories”, a woman has a split personality and one of them is evil and violent, isn’t that a dig againt schizophrenic(probrably mispelled) people, these people with these genetic powers were discovered by a professor from India, so are all people from India are highly intelligent and well educated and while that professor was in America guesswhat he did for a living, he was a taxi driver in New York. What about the most evil person on the show, Sylar, he is white, is that a meesage of the evil white guy trying to take the powers of everyone else, which is what Sylar does on the show.
    I am fortunate that in a small rural town in Florida, where I am a Student minister, we have four to five African-Americans, 3 Puerto Ricans, a Phillipino an Asian student in our group. They were brought by white friends. We joke all the time about our races. They make fun of themselves more than anyone. There is a real bond in Christ there and race is not a dividing factor, and I think because we don’t walk around on egg shells worried that we are going to offend each other.
    Now everyone can say how insensitive I am, but I know who I am and who I belong to. I wonder how many people thought I was an uneducated hick when I mentioned my southern accent. From what I read above and the length of the apology I imagine that the Skit Guys will no longer be published by Youth Specialties, and that would be a shame. Accusing them of racism is a knee jerk reaction. I’ll tell you exactly how that skit got through the editorial process, everyone in that room that read the skit thought it was freakin hilarious, and probrably never gave it another thought.
    I have a child with Autism maybe I should get offended everytime I hear the retard when it is used in an inappropriate way, but I don’t take it personally. Know who you are and live your life for Christ.

    Okay everyone’s turn to dump on me.

  8. I guess I struck a nerve, bobby. I wasn’t expecting that from someone who wrote, “There is a real bond in Christ there…because we don’t walk around on egg shells worried that we are going to offend each other.”

    I’d like to pass on some wise words that make everything just peachy:

    “Know who you are and live your life for Christ.”

  9. EmergingTruth…Your blog is so littered with marginalizations and generalizations about other people that I would hardly call you a barometer of tolerance.

    Same with BlakeMa’s site and many of the other sites I visited through this feed.

    But because Asians (some not all) wanted to rally cry against the “skit guys” they speak for all Asians? Give me a break.

    I’ve read this site many, many, many, times and I see alot of hypocrisy. Call to task the “skit guys” because or their skit but make no steps to check yourself or moderate yourselves. And all of you call yourselves servants of Christ…Again Give Me A Break. One guy speaks scripture and he’s lambasted for saying “Turn the other cheek” but if you read the rest of that passage in John were Jesus is telling the disciples how to follow him; you quickly see that Jesus is pointing out that we have recieved just as much grace and tolerance from God because we’re all screw-ups.

    I’ve mentioned on many of the blog sites listed here that I would love to dialogue with any Asian about the this topic of race and seperation but surprisingly none of them have taken me up on my offer. But I guess it’s alright to launch a “Racism grenade” and then run back behind the protective walls of your own communities to hide with people who completely agree with your opinion. In fact several of the people have locked me out of their blog sites. Amazing! I guess it’s because they don’t want dialogue they just want everyone to do what they want.

  10. No emerging you didn’t. I was using sarcasm there. Actually your repsonse to what I said needs more explanation on your part. How, in your opinion am I not fit for Youth ministry? Why do you think you touched a nerve? Why did you trivialize my philosophy of knowing yourself in Christ? Isn’t that a large step in accepting others? People are racist becasue they fear what they don’t understand. I personally enjoy Asian culture, the parts I know of. Do we not like to talk about differences in cultures and race? Are we trying to ignore race or do we focus on it too much? I think the mental disorder of political correctness has infected to many minds?
    And actually it was God who called me into Student Ministry so that’s what he calls me.
    I really expected more “tolerence” for a differing opinion from someone with the word “emerging” in his blog name.
    Look I didn’t say the original blog to insult anyone, but I am happy with the progress I see among our teens at my church. It’s not perfect, never will be, but I see great progress. When people have that growing relationship with Christ their view of others will change. I never looked down on a person because of their skin color, but I didn’t truly love them until I came to Christ at age 18.
    I was raised in a racist home, but I never accepted the view that one race is inferior or superior to another. Try to remember that racism and prejudice are two different things, and we are all prejudice to some degree. Such as traditional churches toward emergent and vice versa.
    Sorry so long. I’m going back to the Ooze page now.
    In His Love,
    Bobby

    P.S. Anyone who blogs about this should at least put their real name at the end of it.

  11. please, i’ve felt the discussion in this comment section has been, primarily, helpful. but in the last day or two, a few people have been stepping over the line. i’ve actually deleted two comments (which probably doubles the amount of comments i’ve deleted in 18 months of blogging), and have considered deleting more. accusations, at this point, are NOT helpful. defensiveness, at this point, is NOT helpful. if you feel the need to make a snotty comment, or to dismiss all people of a particular race with one generalization (asian or caucasian), i humbly request that you do so on your own blog, and not mine.

  12. i’m deleting them, bobby. please, everyone, just take a freakin’ pill and relax. i really don’t want to have to turn off the comments.

  13. I’ve had a chance to read everyone’s apologies and My opinion is they sound like people trying to keep their jobs more than real apologies. I’m not saying you arent really sorry, i believe you are cause ive seen your hearts in action before. but next time, dont mix risk management and damage control with the apology. Just say sorry and move on. Wow. this issue is keeping someon up at night. That just sounds crazy. No one Died. No one Hurt permanently. No Wonder people thing Christians are a little wacky.

  14. Oh yeah and by the way. My mom thinks “Freakin” is a euphemism for a bad word. She expects you to destroy all literature, censor all currently published blogs and seek couseling…:)

  15. ALL of this is why Jesus had to die on the cross. Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun, nor will there ever be. We will continue to sin against each other, and continue to need to repent and forgive. Ethnically, I am a mut of many colors (and I am guilty of prejudice), but my blood, like everyone else, runs red. This blog has been a great eye, heart, and mind-opening journey, but prejudice, as important as it is, is not the main thing. JESUS is the main thing. As long as we are on this earth, there will be an infinite number of “causes” for us to focus on, and we need to. But for those of us who are followers of Christ, let us not forget that we are all on the same team. We will never agree fully about everything; we will never fully understand our infinite differences, but we CAN do what Jesus did in the garden. Three times He BEGGED the Father for a different way, and three times He realigned Himself to the Fathers will. That gives me more encouragement than anything else in the Bible. Each one of us will continue to focus on our circumstance, but each of us can choose to look up and realign our view to Gods will in every situation and choose to do whatever it takes to bring Him glory. One last thing…my son is taking Karate; the instructor is a Christian. I questioned the yin and yang symbol (different religion, right?) being used in their logo. Long story short, the image (not the meaning) has become huge for me. I “see” it applying to so many situations lin life. I know it wasnt intended, but Romans 12:21 (I like the “mirror” image of the numbers) says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” If you look at the yin and yang symbol, that verse is so applicable. The black (evil) and white (good) are constantly advancing on the other–never stopping. There is a little of both in each one. One of my new ways of aligning my thinking is to picture myself looking up and seeing Jesus on the cross. When I look side to side and see other people, the “playing field” is level. We ALL are guilty in one way or another. May God bless us all with grace and mercy toward every other person created in His image, and may we USE the resurrection power that is in us as believers to love others with Gods love. (Sorry, my apostrophe would not work!)

  16. After reading through all of this the first thing that comes to my mind is “lighten up.” I’m of asian descent and it would take a lot more than something like this skit to offend me. It just seems to me that too many people are wearing their feelings on their sleeves.

    The Skit Guys make fun of a white girls with their beenie weenie skit, but I don’t see an outcry from the white female community. Are all white girls like that character that Tommy plays in that skit? Of course not, IT IS A JOKE! IT IS JUST A SKIT!!! It is funny! No one assumes all white girls talk like that, no one takes that personally, unless they are ultra sensitive and have some kind of chip on their shoulder just waiting to get knocked off.

    No offense, but I think some of you just take yourselves way too seriously. I suspect that the reason Tommy and Eddie (The Skit Guys) didn’t think of this as being racist when they wrote it is because they don’t take themselves that seriously. They laugh at themselves and they make fun of themselves more than anyone. They probably just assumed that others look at themselves in the same way they look at themselves…as funny people with funny quirks that make others laugh. They weren’t intending to hurt anyone and I can tell they are really sorry for their offense, so LIGHTEN UP!

    Laugh at yourself!!! I still get tickled at my dad when he replaces his L’s with R’s. We laugh about it together because he doesn’t take himself that seriously. Its like when Lucy made fun of Ricky’s way of speaking English…was it because she didn’t love him or because she was a racist? Of course not!!! IT WAS FUNNY! LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE!!!

    Sorry, I just had to get that out.

  17. Lang,

    Since you’re of Asian descent, you should know better. You may be tough-skinned and I admire you for that but helping other races perpetuate racial stereotypes does not help us. The church should not be a place where the propagation of racism or prejudice belongs even if it’s “just a joke.”

    I coach track and field and just the other day a Caucasian male athlete started making fun of Asian culture by expressing his stereotypical views to the rest of the team (he didn’t want an Asian athlete to go near a dog that came onto the track because he’d eat it). I pointed to a black athlete and I asked the Caucasian athlete to make fun of black culture. He didn’t. Then I pointed to a Mexican athlete and asked him to make fun of Mexican culture. He didn’t. When it comes to making fun of Asian culture, people don’t think twice about it. Who’s afraid of being “jumped” by the “model minority?”

    If someone who wasn’t Asian made fun of my dad’s pronunciation, I don’t know about you, but I’d let that person know that I wasn’t “tickled.” There’s a difference between making fun of yourself (or your kind) and making fun of others.

    In the church, if you’re gonna tell a joke, make fun of yourself… if you’re anything like me, you’ll have years of material.

    Thanks again Marko for recognizing the Church’s role to sharpen and not to dull. To lift up and not to tear down. To love and not to hate. To unify and not to divide. Stay up!

  18. Dear Mark,

    I greatly appreciate your efforts and your response to this situation. As someone who used to work in Christian publishing (one of very, very few Asian Americans amongst the editorial staff across 10-12 magazines in the organization both then and since), it was difficult to be the one always trying to point out instances of editorial racial insensitivity. For true change to occur, those who are in positions of leadership must be the ones to take initiative, difficult though it sometimes may be, otherwise stereotypes and cultural ignorance will continue to persist.

    Those of us who have contacts in Christian journalism have actually tried to pitch this story, not for the purpose of vilifying anyone involved, but as a positive example (in contrast to LifeWay’s response to their offensive “Rickshaw Rally” VBS material a couple of years ago) of a Christian organization who recognized its sinful action but did not run away from it or hide it. The educational value alone this can have for other publishers is enormous; alas, to my knowledge no major Christian media outlet has agreed that the news value is there. Which I think is truly a shame. (The LifeWay story did become an article in Christianity Today; I suppose the story of an organization who responded poorly has more “news value.”)

    What I would like to encourage you to do, if you are willing and able, is to find ways to encourage your colleagues in Christian publishing to be aware of the situation that you/YS went through, and to use this incident as a catalyst for further discussion within your industry to reduce the possibility of these sorts of decisions to happen in the future. For example, perhaps you could lead a seminar on this topic at an upcoming ECPA convention, or in whatever similar venue is appropriate for your company–whatever would give other organizations the chance to learn what you have learned. I so appreciate that you have emailed all those youth workers and taken all the steps you have taken thus far. But change happens from the top, and until more leaders of Christian publishing become aware of how easy it is to perpetuate racial stereotypes, it won’t be long before we’ll be discussing and dissecting yet another incident such as this in another Christian book or teaching material.

    I know you seek no credit for your actions in this matter, but in my mind it would be most unfortunately if no other leaders of Christian publishing learned from what you have experienced. Please find a way to transfer the knowledge and the conviction you have gained on to your industry colleagues. The positive impact could be tremendous, and so edifying for the Body as a whole.

    Blessings,
    Helen Lee
    Co-editor, Growing Healthy Asian American Churches (IVP)
    Former asst. editor, Christianity Today

  19. As a fellow Caucasian Jesus-follower who wants to continue to grow in this area, I want to suggest another book: “Being White: Finding our Place in a Multi-ethnic World” by Paul Harris and Doug Schaupp. This was a big “A-ha!” book for me, after having read “Divided by Faith” and most of the sequel, “United by Faith.” Thanks for your humility and integrity in making this right for yourself and your company.

  20. I don’t have the book – never read the skit – just came across this in the YSUpdate. But I have been blessed by reading your apology and many of the comments posted, for they all are leading me to a deeper examination of my own values and sensitivity to racism. Your actions – both personal and company-wide – speak loudly to me of your integrity as a person, a minister, and a corporate leader. I commend you and YS for your atonement for it has served as an example to all of us in ministry and to the corporate world of how to deal with mistakes regardless of the motivation behind those mistakes. I pray and trust that God will bring about a great “good” out of this bad situation.

    May the blessings of our great God of Forgiveness and Healing be with you!
    Don Boucher,
    Director of Youth Ministry
    Diocese of Springfield, MA

  21. Mean racist remarks are only said by mean racists. Don’t apologize if it was meant to be a funny skit. If it was intended to be hurtful, then apologize. If Shakespeare were alive today and worried about all the people he might offend simply by his character descriptions, think of all the great literature we would be missing. Lighten up. For that matter, would there be sermons on the “Good man”,”Good Woman”, “Good Samaritan”? Would the character have been funnier if it was a delivery girl? Were men offended that it was a guy and not a girl? Skits should no longer say male or female just “person”.
    As writers for YS you could be offended that readers thought you would purposely write something racially motivated. Lighten up people.
    Christ left heaven’s joys to give us joy. Laugh – at yourself and each other. We Christian people do hysterical things. The other day I was punching in my debit card’s numbers on a computer and had to stop cause I didn’t know the next number. 552? Why? I had the card upside down. Laugh! LOL!! (and yes, I don’t remember the rule for commas and quotes):)

  22. Laurie, Wow your statement is very based in individual experience, there is a broader society we have to be conscious of. Im sorry but making statements like, “Mean racist remarks are only said by mean racists. Don’t apologize if it was meant to be a funny skit. If it was intended to be hurtful, then apologize” are exactly what perpetuate stereotypes and institutional racism (racism acted out through law). Certain people have privilege in our society and part of that privilege is never having to admit to holding racist ideologies. Today we live in a society that loves to talk about equality, but rarely is this view held. It isnt held because people think certain things are ok (such as racist jokes). They are racist jokes plain and simple and I am greatful that YS has apologized for there actions. No I dont think the intent was to be overtly racist but again having privilege means being able to explain things away because you can (you have the “right” to), by not apologizing you are infact contributing to racist ideals. As Christians we need to stand up for the oppressed (women, minorities, disabled, young people, elderly) rather than contribute to their oppression. If Christians would do this Oh what a world this would be!!!! Jesus talks a whole lot more about helping the opreessed and loving others than anything and I think we as the church have lost that. Its not about how sensitive people are or arent its about whats right and whats wrong and what we as the church want to show people, you choose. Racist Jokes that are funny or equal treatment because Jesus has called us to reflect that in our lives? Love ya guys
    DTL…DYING TO LIVE Jr. High Ministries

  23. When will white people understand that stereotypes at the expense of the majority do not equal the stereotypes of the minority; especially since the latter have a history of being abused both physically and mentally? Minorities have a history of being marginalized, dehumanized, degraded, and minstrel-ized. If we proposed the opposite, we would have been lynched.

    I’m sorry to be the one to burst your harmonious “colorblind” view of society where equality is paramount but while being colorblind sounds like a good idea on paper, it’s not. We’re not equal. While all human beings are equal, our racial leverage is not. Whites are in positions of power and influence in every aspect of political, economic, and social life in this country. The word “colorblind” contains a very important word and the word is “blind.” It means you can’t see. I’d rather see everything and make a conclusion based on what I can see. The perfect solution is for everyone to see race but treat everyone equally. If you can’t see race, you can’t understand what’s offensive to any particular group.
    Different races in this country are not equal and their ability to project racism and stereotypes, while equal in derogatory intent, are not equal in how they transpire in American society. Therefore, one cannot simply compare the extremely ignorant example of white stereotypes compared to minority stereotypes. The theory on how the world should be colorblind is extremely dangerous because it ignores explicit details on how racism affects others in this country.

    On top of that, whites need to stop telling other minorities what they should and shouldn’t find offensive. I don’t chide the local Christian woman in my office when she takes offense to a joke one of my employees made about “a woman didn’t want to get an abortion. No problem. Just kick her in the stomach and make her leak it out.” She raised her displeasure over and the joke and I disciplined the offender at hand. Did I tell her to get a sense of humor? Absolutely not. Who am I to push my opinions onto her and have her abide by my standards? What gives me the right?

    That’s right. No one. Therefore, extend the courtesy and don’t do it to others. If they find it offensive, try and be a little respectful and extend the same courtesy that you wish to receive.

    The whole idea of whites using the defensive response of “stop being so PC,” “lighten up,” or “don’t take it so seriously” is a perfect example of how whites attempt to shut down discussions of racism (of which they’re usually the aggressor) in this country in an attempt to blame the victim or portray them as social prudes. Has anyone given any thought that while everyone can and should laugh at themselves; the reason why Asian Americans are so sensitive about it is because maybe Asians are constantly portrayed as caricatures in mainstream media rather than human beings? Could it be that maybe Asian Americans will eventually be able to laugh at situations like this if they had more positive media exposure in America?

    No? Why not? Try not to make assumptions, with such religious fervor, without knowing all the details.

    Lastly, the so-called Asians and Asian Americans that commented on this topic about how other Asians should “lighten up” are nothing but “scabs.” For those not aware of workers’ unions, scabs were know as people who crossed the picket line and thus, undermining a workers’ strike. These Asians are no different because they help perpetuate racism in this country by making it harder to point out the dangers of racism. They trivialize it and fail to realize that racial stereotypes can barrel into something bigger such as racial harassment and discrimination. Grow up and try to look beyond the current situation at hand.

    And to “Anonymous,” I’ll be glad to open up dialog with you regarding racial relations, specifically Asian American issues, if you so choose. Just pick the date and time.

  24. We must be able to laugh at each other and ourselves. If we continue to become so politically correct us Christians WILL NOT be able to preach. Preaching will become intolerant because it calls black, black and wrong choices sin. Let us not become so limited in our depth that we can’t see beyond humor, life, experience, and change. Black is black, whits is white, etc. Let’s live and let live. What is said in love then let it love. What is said in hate, then let’s address it. The purpose of this skit was obvious. Not to be negative to a particular group, its bigger meaning was truth. All truth comes from God. Let us not forget that God created us the way we are. Let’s love and not let ignorance seperate that love. We ABSOLUTELY need to get over the mistakes of our forefathers. I do not approve of their choices nor can I change them. THEREFORE I will not take credit for their actions, I as a Caucasian have no indifference to anyone regardless of their color, size, sex, or anyhting. That should work both ways.

  25. Rob, if I read between the lines, you just said, “Put up your dukes!”

    Brothers and sisters! This is getting out of control. Look what is happening while we offend, even unintentionally through a “harmless” skit–or take offense to a “malicious” skit, whether intended or not…including those who only got offended because someone else got offended…(my head is spinning)…

    I looked up “offense” in the dictionary; that led to “stumbling block”…which I believe we’re told not to be…

    stumbling block
    1 : an obstacle to progress
    2 : an impediment to belief or understanding

    Christians…will our words keep others from progressing to belief?

    This little acrostic might seem silly, but it helps me remember the Biblical principles in Scripture (you remember…that stuff that is “all” inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…)

    T…Is it True?
    H…Is it Helpful?
    I…Does it Inspire?
    N…Is it Necessary?
    K…Is it Kind?

    Ps 141:3 3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.

    Eph 4:29-32 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

    1 Peter 2:23-24 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

    James 1:10-20 This you know, my beloved brethren, but everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

    1 Cor:5-7 (Love) does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    Speaking of LOVE…while we siblings scrap among ourselves, the world is watching…and unbelievers rightfully call us hypocrites. Are we not called to the ministry of reconciliation?

    2 Cor 5:18-19 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers”…If we offend people (by their definition, not ours), do we ever have the right to demand that they just “get over it?” Remember…”By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

    And to this, I have yet to find an exception clause.

    Accept that it’s a fact of life that stereotyping is going to continue as long as mortals inhabit the earth–because we are sinful and because stereotypical behavior DOES exist. We need to “get over it” AND “get over it” when others don’t “get over it.” Brothers and sisters! We are squabbling over man-made identities! We only have one identity that really matters—BEING a child of God…a Christ-follower.

    Ps 139:23-24
    Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
    And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
    And lead me in the everlasting way.

  26. To the skit writers (and the “Just-Get-Over-Its”)

    I looked up “ethnic stereotypes” and took Google’s first link, the Wikipedia (not necessarily Christian) definition. This shows us that the use of stereotypes may not be the most effective–and may be a counterproductive–method of teaching (since “teaching” was the purpose of the skit in the first place.)

    “An ethnic stereotype is a generalized representation of an ethnic group, composed of what are thought to be typical characteristics of members of the group. The use of ethnic stereotypes is usually demeaning even when the characteristics might be considered positive because it tends to discount the importance and uniqueness of the individual.

    False ethnic stereotypes can gain acceptance as fact through frequent repetition. The use of stereotypes often leads to misunderstanding and hurt feelings, because they may be either untrue generalizations, truthful but unflattering generalizations, or truthful generalizations about a group which are untrue of any given member of a group. Many modern ethnic stereotypes can be described as accurate representations of social norms within a given ethnicity and may reflect what a large portion of the living population is, in fact, doing. Within each ethnicity there is always a minority, or even a majority, that chooses not to reflect the stereotype. But even individuals who do reflect the stereotype may find it negative and offensive.”

  27. Sorry, curiousity got the best of me…had to see the skit for myself…found it in an Amazon review…

    It’s very offensive. That overrides funny. I would have been distracted from the point of the lesson.

  28. This is Eddie, one of the skit writers/skitguys…I just want to say thanks for all the discussion on this. We’ve learned alot. I’m willing to talk to anyone that wants to discuss these matters further- we both are.

    To Shiela- thanks for your blog above but please be careful…we understand these definitions more than ever and we haven’t told anyone to get over it.

    I would also like to say thanks to the people that have emailed us directly at skitguys.com and told us their hurts, the pain, the frustration and even the grace and forgiveness.

    So many perceptions – trying to save our jobs, skit racists, immature, kids who have been given the keys to the car, etc.
    It’s tough reading these perceptions and judgements about how people view me. I understand- a perception can be reality.

    I am truly sorry for the pain we have caused. For anyone that reads this blog and you want to know more about our hearts as men and who we are- we are open to do just that..today, tomorrow a year from now…we are here.

    We as well are learning from many of our new mentors in the Asian community and i’m grateful for their kindness in taking us in. Thank you, thank you, thank you for not only telling us your hurt but replying to our emails and helping us figure out the next steps toward healing.

    In all honesty, this is my first blog since all of this started on Feb. 19th. I’ve kept my mouth shut and just tried to learn from what people are emailing, to hear from my Creator and to read from you as well.

    I hope no one has to go through what we have been through, maybe we can all learn from this and have our eyes opened a little more as we continue to strive to be the Body of Christ.

    Sincerely,
    Eddie James

  29. Dear skit guys,
    For the record, all racism is wrong. All racists, of every race should be institutionalized together. Course, we know what they will call it, but that’s ok if they end up there, they are racists.
    If you had used a different race or culture in the skit, let’s say old black women, would anyone have spoken up about racism? Many would have.
    Perhaps, in the future all characters are not to be described at all, but rather given simple number designations, such as the first prson,or to be sexist, the first lady, the fourth man and the fifth child? Or is this number racism? Maybe the second person wants to be first and takes offense at the ordinal labeling. We should as a society get rid of all adjectives that describe people in stereotypical ways or are overtly or subtly racist.
    Would the message of the Bible change if it did not have any race and ethnic words? God is not racist, He condems sinners regardless of their race. Would there be a choosen people? Does that mean God is racist because He does have a choosen people. Again, the good person who stopped to help the wounded guy by the side of the road, or, the good Samaritan, though not all Samaritans are good. Is this reverse racism? What about the story of the bad Samaritan, which led to the parable of the good Samaritan? Samaritan was used because most people didn’t think of them as good persons, a definite racist thought on their behalf. But I digress.
    I will tell you, your skits will still be funny though they will be longer due to the new character descriptions. Which will mean, more paper used to print them, and therefor costing more. This is discrimination against monetarily challenged people regardless of their race or ethnic background.(Isn’t monetarily challenged a nicer word than poor. I think I just made up a new term. No more welfare office,it’s the new monetarily challenged office of assistance.)(And yes, I have taken public assistance and not just to change the stereotypes of those who do accept it)
    Anyway, guys, no more race or ethnic slurs. No more adjectives…does that mean we just did in the seven dwarfs? Cause I know Snow White would be sad. Oh no!! Snow White can’t be Snow White! You writers have alot of work to do! Rename Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. Please. I seriously do not want anyone thinking I’m intentionally or unintentionally, institutionally or freely a racist. I have enough work with the other labels I have to live with.
    By they way, what is my race or ethnic background?
    Good-bye!

  30. To Eddie,

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. I did not include you as one of the “get-over-its.” That was only intended for the bloggers who said that.

    Thank God (literally) that “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Let those of us without sin be the first to cast our stone–otherwise, put it down and walk away.

    You have confessed. You have asked forgiveness. Restitution has been offered and is being made. You are learning (just like I am) to look at people and the world around us more carefully. I pray the flogging will end soon.

    God bless you!

    PS To those who doubt the sincerity of the confessions, the requests for forgiveness, and the offers of restitution, how dare you determine to know the hearts of these people? Who made you judge?

  31. i have not read the skit. i am wondering if everyone is being a little to pc. let’s celebrate our differences- becuse we are different. if people want to have a laugh at how my race does things- go to it, i’ll laugh also. let’s not abuse people but just becuse people are different doesn’t mean we can’t have fun making fun of each other. tim

  32. I came to Christ 17 years ago. My track coach was (and is) the greatest man I know, and a devout Christian. He invited me to his church, but really it was his life, his example that brought me to Christ.

    His wife, his kids were all strong believers. During the olympic games held at atlanta, I was in his home watching the opening ceremonies with his family. The ceremony was impressive, and I asked my coach’s wife what she thought about it. She nonchalantly said, “Well, it was nice, but there were too many black people in it.”

    Fast forward a few years, and I am sitting in a service at my home church in Missouri. During an announcement for a new outreach to international students, a non-Asian woman dressed in a kimono (traditional Japanese dress)stepped up to the mike. She was an elder’s wife. She feigned an accent, in which she spoke in halting English. The congregation roared with laughter. There were two Asians in church that day. One was me. The other was my unchurched friend. He turned to me and said, “this is bullsh__.” He got up, turned around (we were sitting in the front row) and walked past the crowd of 800 laughing and guffawing faces. To my knowledge, he has never stepped into a church again.

    When he (and I)walked out, it stirred a controversy. Some were concerned that the way we walked out was too militant and not a new testament model of reconciliation. Some were concerned that we were hurt, and needed inner healing. Some were concerned that we didn’t get the joke, and did not understand that no harm was intended. Not once was the elder’s wife held accountable. The problem, it seemed, was us. Thicker skin, an improved sense of humor, inner healing, less outrage, and a less serious disposition seemed to be the order of the day.

    My coach’s wife, the elder’s wife, and my church family are good, godly people. I mention these incidents to point to the hidden-ness of racism. If it were blatantly ugly and obvious, the aforementioned people would be quick to repent of it. I know that as a fact. If racism only reared its head by malice aforethought, godly people everywhere would have no part of it. It is it’s latentness that endows it with the ability to propogate and avoid detection.

    Marko, I am thankful for your willingness to take that hard, honest look. I wish that skit was never published. I wish my friend did not have to go through that experience. But you have given me hope that a greater good can emerge from this. Maybe it made all of us, regardless of race, take that hard, honest look inwards.

    austin chee

  33. I just found out about this through reconciliation blog today, and I just got to read the apology tonight. I’m SO thankful to our LORD for the grace that has been lavished upon you and all those at YS! You are an incredible testimony of humility!!! It’s a JOY to hear that $ doesn’t seem to be an issue when it comes to destroying all the books and putting out new ones and replacing old ones with new ones!!! Praise the LORD!!!! It’s absolutely worshipful to read through this apology because it’s the grace of our Lord at work – powerful and beautiful! THANK YOU for being an example to the church in racial harmony and humility!!!! And I’m with you – I’m excited to see how the Lord uses this for His glory and purposes!!!

  34. If you interpreted my words as “fighting words,” I’m glad you did. They were intended to be. The sheer idiocy of how individuals can defend this type of blatant racial caricaturization is absurd. However, it helps explain all the racial ignorance that propagates mainstream media these days.

    I am extremely frustrated with the white population of this country and their insatiable appetite on dictating how minorities should react to racism and racist acts. Why don’t you tell us where to live, what to eat, where to work, or where to sit? Why not? It follows the same concept of attempting to hold power over someone by telling them what to do.

    Too many of the apologists in these comments have constantly harped on the basis of intention. Let me be the first to state that intention is irrelevant because intention is impossible to prove. If the two skit creators cracked a joke mocking an Asian accent; what separates them from the KKK or World Church of the Creator member that cracks the same type of jokes? You tell us. I give you permission. What can we, as minorities, use to gauge which one is racist? Is there a certain racism Geiger counter that we can purchase somewhere that allows us to detect “intention?”

    I also wanted to add that the whole defense of hiding behind the idea of “not being PC” has been warped from a legitament term into a shield has been used to deflect any type of criticism when racist acts are commited.

    http://www.kaichang.net/2006/11/the_sloppy_prop.html

    The blogosphere has its own style of cyber-fad clichés, slightly more high-handed than the stentorian pap of talking-head TV, and occasionally more illuminating. Two examples that leap to my mind are the inescapable utterances of “schadenfreude” and “kabuki”, expressions whose exoticism appears to elevate their usage to haute-cliché à la William Safire. No matter what political controversy is being discussed these days, you’re likely to run across bloggers busting out these 3-syllable badges of faux-erudition with about as much linguistic adroitness as tap-dancers on stilts.

    However, there’s one political cliché so popular, so omnipresent, so densely far-reaching, that it is without doubt the greatest cliché of our time. It is the One Cliché to rule them all: “political correctness” and its variants. What’s striking about the repetitive droning complaints about “PC” (from both conservatives and liberals) is that the expression itself — not to mention the concept it invokes — is as sloppily unexamined as it is pedestrian.

    The phrase “politically correct” can be used in two distinct ways: either with its original literal meaning, or with the mocking sarcasm that’s common these days. I’ll get to the former in a moment, but I’ll begin with the latter. As it’s commonly used, “PC” is a deliberately imprecise expression (just try finding or writing a terse, precise definition) because its objective isn’t to communicate a substantive idea, but simply to sneer and snivel about the linguistic and cultural burdens of treating all people with the respect and sensitivity with which they wish to be treated. Thus, the Herculean effort required to call me “Asian American” rather than “chink” is seen as a concession to “the PC police”, an unsettling infringement on the free-wheeling conversation of, I suppose, “non-chinks”. Having to refer to black folks as “African Americans” rather than various historically-prevalent epithets surely strikes some red-blooded blue-balled white-men as a form of cultural oppression. Having to refer to “women” rather than “bitches” lays a violent buzzkill on the bar-room banter of men preoccupied with beating on their chests and off other body parts.

    Obviously these examples fall on the simplistic side of things, but I think they illustrate the shaky philosophical foundation of today’s usage. Underlying every complaint of “PC” is the absurd notion that members of dominant mainstream society have been victimized by an arbitrarily hypersensitive prohibition against linguistic and cultural constructions that are considered historical manifestations of bigotry. It’s no coincidence that “PC”-snivelers are for the most part white men who are essentially saying, “Who the hell do these marginalized groups think they are to tell me how I should or shouldn’t portray them? I’m not going to say ‘mentally challenged’ when it’s my right to say ‘retard’, goshdarnit there’s only so much abuse I’ll take!”

    In this context, the conceit that “political correctness” constitutes a violation of free speech is particularly zany; as though society’s marginalized groups wield oppressive power over the dominant mainstream. Actually, as far as I’m concerned you’re free to call me “chink” and I’m free to call you “moronic racist loser” (and more if necessary, but I’ll leave that aside for now in the interest of false civility). Free speech is the straw man of choice for intellectual bums of all stripes too fragile and vacuous for critical engagement. Calling someone who says or does bigoted things “a bigot” isn’t censorious, it’s descriptively accurate, like calling a bad movie “a bad movie”, even if the bigot didn’t intend to come off as bigoted and the movie didn’t intend to come off as bad.

    As for the original literal meaning of “PC”, the phrase is believed to have emerged from China (seriously, I’m not making this up) during the reign of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist thought. Revolutionary leaders unironically applauded words and actions as “politically correct” when these were seen to advance the revolutionary cause (ya think something was lost in translation?). Personally, I suspect that the Chinese phrase predates Maoism and hearkens back to imperial China when complying with the demands of the throne and advancing the interests of the empire, at any level of society, would be “politically correct”; as opposed to, say, writing dissident literature, which would be “politically incorrect” to the point of getting you exiled or executed. In both the Maoist and imperial contexts, the key point to observe is that “PC” denotes alignment with state power. On a semantic and philosophical level, this makes a good deal more sense than the vague pejorative sarcasm of today’s “PC”-snivelers.

    Interestingly enough, according to this non-sarcastic, relatively unconsidered, more meaningfully precise definition of the term, the USA is a politically correct nation indeed; but not in the way that most Americans are led to believe. Some examples: Magnetic yellow ribbons are PC. Denouncing Islamism in the name of 9/11 is PC. Reciting the pledge of allegiance is PC. Not talking about radical politics at work or in polite company is PC. Gay-bashing is PC. Standing and placing your hand on your heart during the national anthem is PC. Smiling and applauding when the president enters the room is PC. On the other side of the equation: Marching for civil rights is not PC. Protesting a US war is not PC. Questioning US-Israeli neo-colonial policy in the Middle East is not PC. Calling the US government a white male supremacist corporatist kleptocracy is not PC. Agitating for structural change in our society’s distribution of wealth and power is not PC. Refusing to shake a corrupt president’s hand is not PC.

    Frankly, I can think of far more extreme examples of politically incorrect acts and statements, but it’s a testament to the real coercive power of the police state — not some imaginary “PC police” — that I hesitate to publish these thoughts even hypothetically, even with ample theoretical padding. Given this reality, perhaps we might reconsider exactly whose free speech is being violated by whom. As far as I know, “the PC police” haven’t thrown any insensitive white men into Gitmo or launched CointelPro operations against white bloggers who publish blackface. For some reason, people of color who oppose US imperialism haven’t had that same good fortune.

    Simply put, the great “PC” cliché, as commonly deployed in mainstream discourse, is cultural propaganda designed to befuddle and misdirect while defending the current power structure. All politics deal with power relations, and in the debate over America’s alleged climate of “political correctness”, there’s a stark asymmetry of power between the defiant megaphone-wielders who complain of being constrained by humorless hypersensitivity from below, and the under-represented people of color, women, LGBT, handicapped, poor, and otherwise marginalized or dispossessed people who have no choice but to absorb the linguistic, cultural, and physical barbs of the ruling class. The former feel psycho-emotionally oppressed by their inability to crack puerile ethnic jokes without criticism; the latter simply are oppressed.

  35. i appreciate the apology…but, we have a long way to go, though, huh?…

    in faith, mihee

    ps. a few other great books: asian american dreams by helen zia…race matters by cornel west…

  36. Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. In this case, the owner of this blog goes above and beyond when it comes to an apology. If every single person that angered someone else with their careless and racist comments; this country wouldn’t be embroiled in such a race row.

    Unlike most racism perpetrators who insult the victims, Mark Oestreicher decided to care about the sensibilities of others rather than forcing them to change for him. He’s truly a unique individual and I mean that in the most positive way possible.

    However, judging from many of these comments, this country’s tolerance of racial relations is very thin because it actually takes work to fix.

    I’ve abandoned my Christian background a long time ago specifically because much of the racism I’ve seen has come from “loving” and “tolerant” Christians and the hypocrisy sickens me. I find too many followers of every religion to be just as intolerant as the person next to them.

    At least Islam doesn’t try to hide or disguise it’s intolerance towards others. I respect honesty.

  37. I really commend you for how you’ve responded to this, with both humility and action.

    This issue is especially important to me, since my debut novel will be the first Asian American Christian novel in the CBA, and it’s put out by Zondervan.

    As an Asian American, I have a rather different take on the controversy from other Asian Americans who have responded. I just blogged about it today, especially as it relates to my own concerns about how my own book will be received when it comes out.

    Until this controversy, it never even occurred to me that anyone would be offended by the things I make fun of in my book. Now, at least, I’m prepared for what people might say, rather than being surprised by it.

    Thanks again for responding as you did.
    Camy

  38. Lots of interesting thoughts, comments, questions, and ideas.

    My hope is that each person would take some to consider their personal investment in the Kingdom WORLDVIEW that we are all ONE in Christ Jesus. It’ll be of great interest to see how the organization of YS/Zondervan can contribute to the deconstruction of systemic injustices (economics, race, gender, etc) when it’s so easy for the bottom dollar to generally rule how we go about our decisions.

    mark: thanks again for being one of many to be a catalyst to the conversation and the work that needs to take place.

    eugene cho

  39. Rob,

    You wrote, “I am extremely frustrated with the white population of this country and their insatiable appetite on dictating how minorities should react to racism…” and you have the nerve to say they are doing the stereotyping?

    I think this shows the root of the problem…many of you stereotype whites by assuming they have racially demeaning motives and so you read in into everything they do. That is why I wrote earlier about lightening up.

    I have many white friends and one thing I really love about them is that they don’t take the funny things about their race so seriously. There are movies with titles like, “White men can’t jump” and you see racial jokes about how white people can’t dance or don’t have rhythm all the time, but I’ve never once seen one of my white friends get all offended…even thought one of them is a drummer and the other is only 5’11 and can dunk easily. They think it is funny! They don’t take everything personally.

    I think we can learn a lot from our white brother and sisters in this regard. I here other minorities go on and on about how “our people” have been repressed and all that and it makes me sick. Okay, maybe your grandmother was repressed, and maybe a few jerks have looked down on you because of your skin color, but GET OVER IT! Stop living in the past and blaming everything on “the white man.”

    Most of them aren’t even thinking negatively about those of other races…especially asians! In my experience white people think we are smarter and they think blacks are better athletics and funnier…if any thing they seem to admire other races.

    Stop stereotyping them as being racists and maybe you will lose the chip off your shoulder.

  40. lets see, you cant make fun of the chinese, japanese, black, latino, jew, but the white man is always fair game, right? you make a mountian out of a mole hill. comedy is only funny when there is an element of truth involved and the skit was just that, funny. If you are not willing to accept that basic truth about comedy then i have the answer to this problem, do not do comedy. This way you guys can go through life not having to worry about offending anybody and lets face it Christian comedy has and never will be funny.

  41. Man Rob your ‘PC’ post is freakin brilliant. I agree, “Lighten up” or “Stop being so PC” is basically, “Let me demean you as I see fit, dangit, and why don’t you just take it!”

    Ok, cuz all the white peeps don’t seem to get it (by the way, I am a college-educated GASP! black dude):

    A white man generally doesn’t get offended by stereotypes or insults against him because he holds ALL the power. The “H” word (for whites) holds no history of oppressive power like the “N” word (for blacks) or the “C” or “G” word (for Asians).

    Plus, for every negative/funny/geeky portrayal of a white man there are 3 Tom Cruises, 5 Brad Pitts, and 4 Mel Gibsons saving the world and proving how superior white men are.

    From what I seen, for every buck-toothed foreign-accented portrayal of an Asian man there are… 5 non-english speaking kung fu masters, 6 geeky Asian nerd or devious villians, 8 asexualized Asians who never kiss the girls, 1 William Hung, and 7 more non-English speaking non-assimiliated foreigners.

    I even found out that Asian guy on “Heroes” and the Asian guy on “Lost” are perfect English-speaking Asian-Americans… thats wack… why not give them non-accented English speaking roles? seriously, why not??

    That’s why white boys don’t mind being made fun of… they know it’s not true of all whites, and basically everyone knows it’s not true of all whites. So they can easily “lighten up” and laugh at it.

    But right now, there’s no positive images of Asians in this country that show they are not all heavily accented foreigners who are not “really Americans.” So when the Asian jokes comes, the Asian dude is like “oh no, not again…” It’s totally different from the white dude case, cuz in this case many people don’t realize it’s not true.

    Honestly, I don’t think Asians would mind being made fun of, yes, even from white boys, if there was some reasonable counterbalance, positve images, etc., so everyone knows it’s a joke and not REAL. You’d be surprised what white people in this country belive about blacks and Asians.

    Basically my white brothers, stop telling people to “lighten up ” until there is some balance in the way Asians are seen in this country.

    It’s like you hold all the cards but tell everyone else to stop whining. Let me take all your cards then and then let’s see, how much you start crying, white boys!

    Get it now? Peace.

    P.S. sorry to my Asian brothers if I said something you don’t quite agree with, but I’m trying to debate on your behalf to make it more understood, from a black man’s perspective, if that makes sense.

  42. It cases like this, it’s not easy being Asian, and neither is it easy being white. Both sides suffer from embarrassment and shame. In hearing the cries from both sides, I feel the yearning for mutual understanding. Forgiveness and reconciliation is attainable. I know that Asians want at least acknowledgment of what we feel has hurt us. I also feel that what white people want is a recognition of their apology. The key is sincerity and a willingness to forgive, on both sides. I just blogged on this and it was very difficult to write about it but I know that we can all live in harmony and unity.

    Wordalone.blogspot.com

    Kevin

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