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.

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”


  2. My 11 year old wrote a post which is listed above.
    Unfortunately, MY comment at the end reads a
    bit unclearly. What I meant to say was that my daughter
    is the one who teared up as I read Marko’s post,
    rolling disciple’s post, AND as she wrote her own.
    She ‘gets’ the issues in ways that have truly opened
    my own eyes.

    Marko, I was deeply touched by your parents responses,
    as well as your understanding of what it would mean to
    be an Asian American kiddo sitting listening to such
    a skit.


  3. My name is Thomas Wong, a Chinese Scottish Canadian and former church goer. I understand that forgiveness is a wonderful thing and that yes, no one should hold hatred in his heart. Having said that, this is ridiculous. Did not intend to be racist? So the horrible accent and the “pu pu” which is not a Chinese dish was meant as…the glorified word of our Lord and Saviour? What on earth other than disdain and mockery towards Asian people was this meant to inspire? The comparison towards African Americans was also fairly insipid – what point does any accent or any racial stereotype get across other than “these people are silly and worthy of our scorn.” I can’t read the segment and not be incensed, angered, and think of the race riots that happened in Vancouver 100 years ago. This is simply the stupidest, most ridiculous thing I have ever seen associated with the Christian Faith, and I include Christian rap. It doesn’t matter if I forgive you – this is a mistake that is unheard of in the secular world. How did followers of Jesus let it slip?

  4. Wow, an actual apology. I am impressed. In a time where most people go with the standard, “We’re sorry you didn’t understand our joke…” you actually said your sorry.

    Thank you.

    God Bless.

  5. The comments from both the sketch artists and their supporters are perfect proof on how feelings about racism are still very much tolerated among Christians.

    I was born into both an Asian American and Christian family. While every one of my family members continues to be a practicing Christian, I’ve left my beliefs behind; particular because of the existence of people like these that preaches both religion and racism simultaneously.

    If every one of us are God’s children and racism is evil, isn’t that a contradiction? It’s funny how people can preach the message of love and hate at the same time.

    As for me, I’m not inclined to believe in your “invisible sky wizard.”

  6. I must add that while I appreciate you talking about this issue and apologizing, rather than burying it; the apology that matters the most should be coming from the sketch racists, I mean, artists.

  7. Marko – Thanks for this public apology (and for your personal e-mail). Since I work in publishing, let me just affirm for everybody reading this just how significant YS/Zondervan’s actions are. Indeed, the easy way out would have been to just replace the offending skit in the next printing without taking action on existing inventory. The fact that they have frozen and destroying current inventory speaks volumes. Public offense requires public apology and action, and what Marko and YS have done is a remarkable model for the church of what reconciliation and justice should look like.

  8. Rolling disciple, yes, Jesus showed us how to love our enemies, and He also showed us how to dig deeper to relate to one another in the small things too, be it feed the hungry, give a drink, hang out with sinners and the marginalized, show compassion, share the concerns of others. Hey, if something is important to you, then when I make it important to me too, it’s a great way to show my love for you.

    As for misunderstood intentions in communicating via blogs, it’s not solely a shortcoming in blogs. I’ve been excruciatingly painfully misunderstood even while communicating face-to-face when I’m vulnerably bearing my heart and soul! This has happened not only in interracial contexts, this has happened to me in my own intergenerational Chinese contexts! Took me years to recover. Don’t blame blogging! :)

    As for speaking up, some people are great at doing that. Others are great at taking action. To change something, it takes both words and action. Rosa Parks didn’t say a word, when she sat down in the forbidden section of the bus. But her actions spoke loudly and triggered a quiet revolution.

    I’m personally touched to hear the handful of Asian American voices chime in here, it’s so hard for me to find Asians who are willing to put their names out in the open and to voice out. It’s so risky, it’s uncomfortable, words can be easily misunderstood, it’s hard to talk to people we don’t know. (This is a small glimpse into the Asian psyche that fits many of us.) A typical Asian communication style is far more nuanced, sophisticated, and often indirect. This affects many of the 2nd and 3rd generations, even those who might only speak English.

    I want to believe that these recent corrective actions, apologies and forgiveness offered, is only the beginning. This is only the first chapter of many chapters yet to be written in a much needed on-going effort of intentional actions, humble words, and deeper relationships to truly manifest the Kingdom of God to redeem the racial history of America.

  9. 1. Thank you to Marko and the rest of the YS crew for modeling repentance.

    2. Thank you to so many in the Asian American community who are modeling forgiveness and grace.

    3. Thank you to Christ who allows all of us to call each other brothers and sisters even when we hurt each other in the name of Christ. I see no other community that allows accountability, forgiveness and healing to happen in such a powerful way (warts, hiccups and all).

    My hope is that the spirit of the Skit Guys, Marko and YS is in no way paralyzed by this… sometimes when we have to face our own sin we can become completely disheartened. I hope that grace abounds for all and demonstrates the amazing redemption that Christ offers in exchange for our messes.

    Thank you for living your lives so publicly.

    Grace be to God.

  10. My heart goes out to the 11 year old girl. Your words were more powerful than anything I could have expressed. You brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing.

    I wrote about anti-miscegenation laws. In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Loving v. Virginia that “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. ”

    At the time 16 states still had laws prohibiting interethnic marriage. It was not until the very last state, none other than Alabama, in the year 2000, were all the anti-miscegenation laws repealed. This was 33 years after the Supreme Court made their ruling.

    That was 5 years after I graduated from highschool, less than 7 years ago. I know this topic isn’t about discussing interracial marriages, but it’s to bring to light that racism is still happening and abundant in our country. For those of you who need it more real than this, it was a special statewide election and 40% of Alabamians voted to keep the ban on interracial marriage. How many of those 40% of voters were Christians straight from the heart of the Bible Belt? That means 40% of the people who went to vote said No to black and white marriages and to asian and white marriages. That gives you an idea of how real racism is and how it still exists blatantly as well as systematically in our society and has been passed on from generation to generation. What I’m saying is, there are those people who think of racism as something in the past because they are privileged, but in reality, 1967 was not a long time ago, neither was the year 2000. Just because you do not have to see it, does not mean it’s less real for those of us who do.

    Blake Ma

  11. Hi Marko,
    On behalf of Filipino-Asian American, I extend forgiveness and receive your apology. Even though it was a Chinese characterization, Asians from our nations can and will symphatize with the stereotypes.
    This move of a broken heart would bring healing to America’s festering wounds.
    Your humility is worth imitating.
    Archie Honrado

  12. To the 11 year old girl: Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing your heart. Your words and strength brought tears to my eyes.

    Rolling Disciple, thank you for your reply and trying to clarify but you are still not getting it. I will try to make this short and simple: We’ve ALL gone through hardships, some more than others. I’ve been raped and molested and, yes, I’ve forgiven my perpetrators and have chosen to move on as best I can, HOWEVER, I would NEVER suggest to other victims that they should just ‘get over it’ or turn the other cheek. Everyone goes through different pain and we all heal differently. Telling people to just turn the other cheek to the pain they’re experiencing just shows insensitivity on your part.

  13. thanks marko and ys for your humility. you could have circled your wagons and got defensive (which is a natural reaction), but instead you showed courage and repentance. while i am not from the asian community, i still appreciate your heart and willingness to step up when mistakes happen.

  14. I think those who wrote the sketch as well as those who were charged with editing the content in that book need to be held accountable. I understand falling on your sword as the leader, but if you weren’t personally responsible for the material then why were there no action steps including those involved? You don’t owe us an exhaustive treatment of your internal policies of employees, but some acknowledgement of this being part of the process would be a sign that you all are handling this appropriately.

    To be frank, it is both racism and the self congratulatory immaturity and emotional arrested development of the few that continue to affect peoples perception of what it is we do as youth workers.

  15. I am glad you have taken responsibility for this. I dont know how many times I hava heard and seen things the church says that are blatantly racist and the people/church saying these things dont even think twice, I am glad to hear you thought twice! Also I am glad you made the statement that…”while there was no intention of racism on our part, i do believe this blunder has exposed some systematic issues we must face”. This points out the deep intrisic nature of racism that must be examined (along with classism, sexism, etc.). Im glad that you have taken these steps to ensure that nothing like this happens again. I love what you guys do and if you ever need anything I am here.
    In Love,
    Andre Favila
    DYING TO LIVE Jr. High Ministries
    Citrus Heights, Ca. Friends Church…HOLLLA!

  16. I am grateful for the forgiveness on both sides of this difficult issue. After re-reading the skit, I think I understand the intent of the Skit Guys in the sense that they were going for humor to lighten up a very serious and sobering skit. A skit that I hope has just been re-edited and not removed completely. At the same time, I was kind of surprised at the stereotype portrayed in the skit and although I intended to one day use the skit, I planned on editing out the delivery man. As a Caucasian man, I cannot comprehend what our Asian brothers and sisters have gone through and I never will, but this incident does bring the issue to light and has sparked a very encouraging dialogue so that we can deal with the racist stereotypes we encounter every day. Thank you Marko, YS and the Skit Guys for being so transparent and so apologetic and thank you to our Asian brothers and sisters for bringing this issue to light.

  17. An Asian-American friend of mine recently recommended this book to me so that I can have a better understanding of her and other Asian-American women. I pass it on to Marko’s blog readers…

    More Than Serving Tea
    Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith
    Edited by Nikki A. Toyama
    and Tracey Gee Consulting Editor Jeanette Yep By Kathy Khang,
    Christie Heller de Leon
    and Asifa Dean


  18. Marko,
    It is good to know that I am not the only one to step in the poop and I appreciate that you care deeply about helping kids not assume negative stereotypes. (A nice leather whip is in the mail in case you have need of deeper self-flagellation)
    Here in Hawaii there are a ton of races all mixed together and as I think you know, I am married to an Asian gal and have what is called “hapa”kids.
    The great irony here is that the most popular humor is racial humor. Portuguese jokes, chinese jokes, haole (white guy) jokes, Japanese jokes, etc. I have heard Pastors of HUGE churches bust up the house using racial tinged jokes and comments that would get you slammed anywhere else.
    But…the one constant is that nobody who is Caucasian can make racial jokes or even repeat the racially tinged joke that an asian buddy just passed on.
    Even after 20 years on the island I tread across this ice of irony with care. Local (non-white) people have a pass and consider these stereotypes harmless. In fact, they would probably jump at the chance to do the skit. The rest of us keep our mouths shut and stay away from racial stuff altogether.

  19. I appreciate the action you are taking on this matter. It says a lot about your character and the character of your company.

  20. I am glad that people are willing to accept responsibilities for their actions. Too many times we would rather point the finger at someone else and I think it shows a lot of courage and humility to admit a problem.

    I do not believe any harm was meant, but I do see why some would be offended. I cannot help, however, but ask myself the question, if it were a white person being made fun of (i.e. a backwoods person or someone like that) that this issue would not have been raised.
    I am in no way condoning these actions, but agree with rolling disciple in that we need to be unified as Christians and in this country Christian Americans. Personally, I have many friends of other races but I do not view them as that. I view them as human beings, as friends.

  21. Wow!

    This shows the power of Christ to touch our hearts and make changes.

    It makes me think of the number of people each of us have hurt unintentially through the years. This may be a good time for each of us to review our lives and make some calls or send some cards to “burn the books” in our past.


  22. Marko – your apology reached all the way here to Sydney, Australia and I don’t want to repeat everyone’s comment with which I agree wholeheartedly. You are one true and faithful Christian who is a role model to follow. We all need to rise up to that. God Bless.

  23. Reading your apology and the comments is so refreshing, since I’ve battled feeling like an outsider/stranger in the American church since I became a follower of Jesus two decades ago. Thank you for facing the pain with me.

  24. Mark,
    I have been an asian (all my life:-), american for 32 years and employed at an american church for 13 years. Your words not only reflect your great nature and character but opens the eyes of us all. I have seen too often, good natured Christians lack sensitivity to all of God’s chirldren. I am #1 on the list of the guilty. Thank you for your heart. Your apology has brought many of us to our knees.

  25. Marko,
    Once again I am awed with the honesty and humility in which you and YS display. It is refreshing to come alongside fellow Jesus followers who are willing to be real and raw. I pray that you will receive forgiveness from us (youthworkers)in the same manner. It is not excusable but it is forgivable.

    I have taken the pages out of my copy of the book and shredded them. I don’t need a new book, but I appreciate the offer and the commitment from YS to make it right.

  26. MarkO:
    Good,honest,gusty move. I appreciate your heartfelt apology and your sincer, straightforward approach to it all.
    As the adoptive father of an Asian American, I have had many conversations with my daughter about this issue through her eyes. There is much learning to be done–and your honest admission of that is refreshing.
    May you be encouraged as you learn and grow. Thanks for modeling honest confession.
    In Christ,

  27. in almost 14 years of youth ministry, I have heard the laments of people claiming immaturity from youth leaders, and their lack of ability in conflict resoulution. Marko, I’ve never met you, or anyone at YS for that matter, but you made a big statement in the way you have handled this situation. Your reaction reflects not only you and your ministry, but helps as an example to those of us who believe in you as a leader and distance mentor. Thanks for raising the bar. The action you have taken reflects positivly on youth ministry in general. Let’s face it, we all mess up. It is how we handle it that makes the difference.

  28. So I have one question for everyone…When will we stop holing ourselves up in our sactimonious, and homocentric steeples and preach about the reconcillation of Christ and ignore the seperation of our body?

  29. As an Asian-american (my mother is Japanese), I was disappointed when I purchased that book for my youth and it was the first skit I read. We never used it. I’m not one to complain- my grandmother silently endured some very harsh racism after moving to America with my mother who was still a child in 1950, so I am not one to complain because this ignorance-based mistake is nowhere near as offensive as the Japanese concentration camps of the ’40s or the racism of that generation.

  30. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” Romans 3:23-34

    “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

    Praise be to our God for sending his Son to die in our place and to forgive our sins! Thank you for reminding me of my need for the gospel of grace every single day! May we never lose sight of our redemption and redemption’s cost!

  31. Well, sorry, you just “screwed up” again. The mistake was not just again “asian americans” as you put it, but against all asians, and more broadly, all humanity. But, let’s face it, if we were perfect, Jesus would not have been crucified. Thank God for grace.Sincerely, David Nash

  32. In an age of blaming everyone else, thank you for your forthrightness and speed dealing with a tough issue.
    To God be the glory! Great things He continues to do!

  33. Mark O,

    Thank you. You’ve taught us all a lesson here. Your humility, gracious response, and sincere desire to make things right has challenged me. It’s been sad to read the pain that my Asian brothers and sisters in Christ go through on a regular basis. I find myself asking what I can do to help bring healing, and am stricken to the core at how oblivious I was to the pain that is out there. Thanks for doing the right thing.

    In Him,

    Brian Schulenburg

  34. Dear Marko,
    We all make mistakes, but how we handle the mistakes when they are presented to us will determine our character and the integrity of the organization we represent. What one does see as prejudice is not prejudicial to others at least in the beginning. But how we handle our errors of prejudice helps determine our depth in understanding the mission for which the Christ called us. We all fall short of the glory of GOD, but what we do after our fall is brought before our eyes shows our true mettle.
    May all who were offended be as forthcoming with their apologies as you and Youth Specialties have in yours when they have demonstrated their own brand of prejudice. I believe that YS seeks to be a class act for the cause of Christ each and every day. Please continue to explore the directions of presenting Christ without sacrificing the integrity of salvation through Jesus Christ.
    Your brother in Christ, Gary Tubb

  35. Hi,

    Christians everywhere “should” come together and be unified. That skit divided us by race, made Asian-Americans feel inferior to our white counterparts as many of us have been made to feel at some point or another or most of our lives. Mark’s apology took a step towards unifying all Christians. Thank You.

    You’re right, if it had been a skit about a backwards white person, you probably wouldn’t have complained. That’s the privilege of living in the majority. You don’t need to, because you’ve lost nothing. It’s like when my white coworkers ask me, “Why do African-Americans need their own heritage week or even an Asian-American awareness week, and why is there no Caucasian-American week?” Because every week is Caucasian week. Every day is Caucasian-American day. You don’t need a special week to show movies of white people like black and asian people do. You just go to the theatre. By default in our society, what white people do are considered the norm. Your experiences are considered the norm, the status quo, not mine, and you are validated with it throughout society. You turn on the tv anytime of the day, and you can find beautiful, strong white people of all types to validate who you are as a human being and as an American. It’s not something you even need to think about. And so what if there are white people playing roles as crooks or as child molestors. It doesn’t matter, because you have so many positive, cultural validations, you don’t even need to think twice about it. How do you think African-Americans would feel if all people saw on television were African-Americans as thieves and crooks? (That was not that long ago and still not uncommon for tv). What type of perception does that give to all people? Something like approximately less than 5% of network tv roles are given to minorities and that’s after years and years of work and lobbying. How many Asian-American men without accents were there on tv when I was growing up? Forget about the accents, how many Asian-American men were there at all? How many are there now? I “think” I might be able to count them on 1 hand. How many Asian-American singers are there in the US? Again 1 hand. My coworkers will ask me, why do Black people need BET. They don’t understand because most of tv is white people. If I want to see an Asian-American(someone that represents me as a human being) on tv, I have to schedule it in advance or buy a dvd, and I already have all of them. I can’t just turn on the tv. African-Americans pushed and pushed to get even the roles that they are in now on tv, especially the positive ones. We have such a long way to go. And what about the Asian-Americans? Will we always be depicted as buck-toothed, nerdy laundry cleaners with foreign accents? Is that me I see on tv? No. Either that or always in kung-fu roles. You don’t know how many times growing up people came up to me and said, “HI-Ya”, hundreds and hundreds. And how many times did they push me to see if I could do kung-fu on them. I’m tired.

    When you demean a person(whether on purpose or not), make them inferior, make them less than a full human being, then overtime it becomes easier to justify to yourself the commiting of hurtful acts and even atrocities. The white/black history of the US has shown us this, my life has shown me this. And maybe the person that commits those acts won’t be you, but I guarantee you it will be someone, because just as you as a white person are validated positively in so many ways everyday, so happens the validation of negative stereotypes of minorities. And just as you don’t need to think about your positive validations, you don’t need to consider the negative validations either against people that might look like me.

    This was so hard and difficult for me to explain, and I know I didn’t go a good job.

    Thanks for listening,

    Blake Ma

  36. Marko,

    Bravo. The way this is being handled should be commended. Good will come out of this… I am excited to see such transparency and you are correct, it must start in the church. We are behind you!

    Terrace Crawford
    Minister of Students
    Norfolk | VA

  37. i am a youth worship leader in south africa. My country,as most would know, has been through a long era of racial discrimination. We are so blessed now that Apartheid is behind us, however, we as the church are far from making progress in this area. i would like to thank my brother Marko and the youth sepcialities guys for you bravery. That’s what it means to be HEROS. Keep the passion hot for Jesus.


  38. Dear Mark,
    Like many who have already spoken, I thank you. I deeply appreciate your heartfelt contrition, your agonizing over the issue and prompt action. It helps more than many realize. I do believe that you understand some of the struggles of the plight of many silent voices and troubled hearts including my own. Those who know you and have spoken about your character in these comments only accentuates your integrity here.

    We do need each other. Should we not be open to correction? Should we not make right what is wrong? Are we not to drop everything even the act of worship to make right was a brother may have against you whether they deserve it or not? As painful as this has been I believe this was a step for all of us towards becoming a more redemptive community.
    your brother,

    Laurence Tom

  39. Marko, This is were I am intercessing from. Just reading these E-mails have really encouraged me to see the body of christ draw to their knees over the love they have for one another.This is on the front burner of the holy spirits fire.We are not a race we are the body of Chrst, we are One, We are citizens of heaven. When someone in the body gets hurt it effects us all.I cryed through these E-mails Because it hurts me Too. But it hurts me because i love these people and i know how much Jesus loves us all and this is sad but beatuiful to read but just like when Jesus died on the cross, it was sad but beautiful that he loved us all this much!!!! God bless you all for having an humbling integerity of leadership. This is my biggest prayer on the earth right now!You have encouraged my prayer closet through this public apology!!!!!!!!!! And given deeper conviction for the deep wounds we all cause by ignorance. I truely pray all accept the apology ..
    to the praise of the glory of his grace,wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.. ephesians1:6

  40. I think we see here in the apology and the posts the loving grace of God that should define us a believers in the one and only God. Marko and YS, my respect is off the scale. No finger pointing the buck stopped with you, and you stood up and made it right. Thanks to all for demonstrating real love for each other! Blessings to all my brothers and sisters.

  41. Marko- I think you should make those guys who edited it go out and sell girls scout cookies.

  42. Marko…God’s grace and mercy are sufficient and available to all. I thank you for your honesty and apology and I pray that you and The Skit Guys will continue to lean on that grace and mercy and that others in the Christian community will continue to show it to you.

  43. Marko,

    Thanks for being a leader…Thanks for doing the right thing…Thanks for your heartfelt repentance…Thanks for the guts and humility to apologize as a leader for YS…Thanks for mobilizing the body of Christ to love one another…May the Lord give you favor for being obedient…Receive the grace and reconciliation of Jesus…Be encouraged, Keep leading with plenty of prayer…David Burke

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