Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Red Letter Book Club, featuring Bruce Reyes-Chow’s latest book: But I Don’t See You as Asian: Curating Conversations About Race.
Growing up I can remember the “three things” that you are never supposed to talk about: politics, sex, and religion. Yet, when I think about the current state of American society and culture, I think that it is fair to add, “race” to the list of topics to avoid in general conversation. The immense tension that surrounded the Trayvon Martin case is evidence that America is still hung up on this dividing topic known as “racism.”
Growing up as an Asian American I was blessed to have avoided experiencing any traumatic experience regarding race. Yet, even though I never experienced such hardships, I was still exposed to the common misconceptions that Americans have about Asian Americans. When I went to go on my recent trip to South Korea, I was surprised when some of my friends would ask me, “There are two Koreas?” or “Isn’t that the communist country?” These simple questions were not asked in spite or malice, but asked in simple ignorance. This ignorance is a sign that something needs to be done. This ignorance is a sign that for to long people have been living with the mindset that this is just how the world works.
Yet this isn’t how the world is supposed to be, and the book But I Don’t See You as Asian, written by Bruce Reyes-Chow, aims to transform the way that people in America talk about race and cultural heritage. Instead of pinning the blame on one group of people or trying to create an elaborate theory explaining the origin of racism, Bruce Reyes-Chow gives the simple truth… talking about race is difficult and complex.
But I Don’t See You as Asian is a journey that takes the reader through the Bruce Reyes-Chow’s personal life and the testimonies of other people. Incorporating real life examples and stories about real people, But I Don’t See You as Asian is a book best described as a personal testimony. Race and racism is often a topic that many people try to avoid.
But instead of trying to avoid this hard discussion, Bruce Reyes-Chow tackles the issue from a fair and balanced approach Bruce writes, “I know that White folks do not hold the corner on racism toward African-Americans…” When talking about race and racism I think that this is a point that we often miss. Racism and ignorance about other people cannot be limited to one group of people. Racism is not something only one participates in, but is instead something that we all, regardless of color, can be a part of.
Race and racism is something that will not disappear overnight. However, people can start working towards a better perspective and a better attitude in the here and now by having serious and meaningful conversation about what it means to be White, Black, Asian, Latino, etc.
Bruce Reyes-Chow’s book does not provide a definite answer on how to solve America’s continuing awkwardness in regards to talking about race, but what it does do is provide the necessary tools that are needed to cultivate discussion and how we as people of all backgrounds can foster and grow a loving community.
Casey Carbone is a Korean-American, a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., and someone who has passion for sharing the Gospel story. He is a senior at Calvin College and is studying Youth Ministry and Theology. After graduation he hopes to pursue a seminary degree and become an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA. Casey blogs at Radical Undeserved Love.
In 2012, my father passed away after a fight with a very rare and aggressive sarcoma cancer that was not affected by traditional treatment. Since my fathers passing, I have struggled with the question of suffering and trying to provide a better Christian alternative in an era where suffering is a common occurrence.
I truly believe that “love wins, ” in the sense that love and hope can help us overcome all of the trials that we face in life. I won’t tell you that, “God has a reason for it, ” or “just have faith, ” because in our weakest moments those answers don’t cut it.