Eugene Cho

deconstructing race

As some of you know, our church is hosting our annual ‘faith and race’ depth class right now.  Jason R. recently came on board as a ministry intern and is working with all things depth classes, conferences, etc.  Jason’s also a gifted web developer but eager to put his seminary degree from Fuller Semimary to good usage at our church community.  He and his wife, Nancy [a professional calligrapher] have been at Quest for about 1.5 years.  He and several other presenters have been teaching on various subjects, leading group exercises and discussions. 

Racism is a complicated matter. Last night, he sought to help the group ‘deconstruct race’

Recently a couple of articles, one about DNA pioneer Dr. Watson getting suspended for tying race and intelligence together and another about renewed opposition to school integration, are evidence that “race” as a valid concept is alive and well. So, it seems worth saying what’s been said may times before: race is a myth, an illusion, a social construct with no basis in genetics or biology. That’s not to say that the illusion of race doesn’t still have tremendous power. It does. Humans are still classified as Brown or Black or White or some other “race” and values attached to that designation. Part of the reason racism is alive and well is because the idea that race has a biological basis which affects things like intelligence or athletic ability is still widely prevalent.

Race didn’t arise as a concept until the 18th century when scientists and anthropologists started trying to classify the “varieties of the human race” based on physical attributes. The word “race,” in fact, derives from the Latin “ratio” which was used to designate species. A race was characterized by a common gene pool which was arbitrarily defined by some physical marker such as color of skin or shape of head.  [read the full presentation here]

Visit his blog and read the full presentation.  You can also read his presentation from the first week entitled, Stories of Ethnicity in Scriptures.

DeAnza, one of our pastors who’s also half Filipino, also taught last night about stereotypes.  We resurrected one of our favorite videos that was produced by one of the groups from last years’ Faith/Race classes. 

Previous Relevants Posts:

  • rosie o’donell – ching chong expert
  • i don’t dislike white people
  • race, racism, and racialization
  • racism sucks
  • silent racism – there’s hope
  • Filed under: asian-american, religion

    4 Responses

    1. James says:

      Loved the video!

    2. billwp says:

      I think that a careful examination of the 10th chapter of Acts, most especially with meditation on the 34th & 35th verses, should convince Christians that even if the science DID argue for a separation of ‘the races’ (it does not), the scriptures argue against it.

      Only 8 people survived the flood; a married couple, their sons and their daughters in law. How many ‘races’ do you count? I count only one … the ‘human race’.

      But let’s let our imaginations run wild for a moment … suppose that there were actually 5 distinct races of mankind. Let’s see … we got the brown ones, the yellow ones, the red ones, the black ones and the white ones.

      Now let’s take a look at Matthew 22:35-40. What does that tell you about Jesus’ approach to the issue of race? I’m not going to give a pre-chewed answer and ask you to swallow it … chew it up for yourself. Jesus addressed the ‘race issue’ head-on here. If you have, as he might say, “eyes to see”, now would be a good time to use them, eh?

      One more group of verses to seal the point: 1 John 2:9-11; 3:15; 4:20. God has spoken. Whoever speaks against this speaks against God and condemns himself.

    3. billwp says:

      Thought I’d post a footnote to my earlier comment.

      I am the only Caucasian in an otherwise all-Black congregation. Even my wife is Black. Although I have been assigned responsibilities (as is the custom in my religion), it is clear that I will never be given an appointment beyond my current status.

      I think this is because, for all ‘races’, it is easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk. All of us can preach acceptance. Most of us can cite chapter & verse and add meaning on the topic for an hour or more before we even stop to take a breath. But few can read hearts. This is not simply because we are neither God nor Jesus, but mostly because few even try. It is ALWAYS easier to assign a set of characteristics based on the color of the skin, the slant of the eyes, the accent of the tongue than it is to get to know someone ‘mano a mano’. This is a very busy life we lead … we barely have time to form relationships within our own homes. And to learn what life is like … to come to know the heart … of someone ‘different’ is just too much to ask.

      I am surrounded by Black men and women … many of them accomplished beyond their outward appearances. I can read them reasonably well. But I still glance at an Asian and think “(s)he’s probably smart in the sciences and bi-lingual”. What else have I to go on? If Asians want to break that stereotype down (which, by the way, is actually socially useful), they’ve got to mingle more. They’ve got to intermarry freely. They’ve got to work the dirty jobs alongside the Mexicans, Blacks and Whites. They can’t hide in “Chinatown, USA” and expect us to see them as individuals when we only ever see them as groups.

      I once had a Chinese brother in law. Nicest guy you could ever want to meet … much nicer than my sister was. But, in my whole life he is the only Chinese man I have ever known the full name of. His family didn’t want to meet us. I had a half-Chinese / half-German girlfriend for a while … but only on the internet. We never met until after I had been married to another woman for a couple years.

      All of which is to say that non-acceptance of Asian people is not fully the responsibility of “those others”. I know another Asian … but he’s not worth much, although his parents are very fine people. Until I changed congregations, his Mom was starting to teach me to speak Mandarin.

      When I asked for a review of things to work on in respect to that hoped-for appointment I was told that I am not humble and reasonable enough … without even a single example of where I had shown a noticeable / objectionable lack of humility or where I had been unreasonable toward even one other human being.

      It saddens me.

      I know that there is more I could do for this congregation if more responsibility were given me. But to give me even a single added responsibility would all but require that I also be given an appointment (I am already filling two roles that are normally reserved for appointed men). And I really want to help Gods people in whatever ways I can.

      But, you know what … EVERY SINGLE ONE of the kids in the congregation comes to me for a hug during the course of a month … every single one! Most of the kids will line up at every meeting. Sometimes I even get the odd peck on the cheek. The kids are learning something that it may be too late to teach the adults. They are learning that skin TRULY does-not-matter.

      In fact, I think I like this footnote so well that I am going to post it to my own blog. 😉

    4. […] subject (minus the provocative title!), recently made an appearance on another blog that I happened upon recently. Its author and I are clearly of differing schools of belief, but I found his choice of […]

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