Eugene Cho

diversity is the new normal


One of my readers sent me this video couple months ago because well, I somehow and mysteriously got on this video.

Truth be told, I’ve always wanted to create a viral video and tried with this one but no luck. But God answered my prayers (sarcasm here) and somehow, Kim Jong-Il (the notorious North Korean dictator) and I star in the same video that has been viewed at least 3 million times (and that’s just on YouTube).

Honestly, I wasn’t quite sure how or what to feel about the video initially because I was shell-shocked. The video was created as a parody to basically make fun of Asian and Korean culture. You can bing the creator of the video, Rucka Rucka Ali, if you want as I’m in no mood to send any traffic to his site. Yes, I admit that I chuckled once but then realized this was basically a video getting people to laugh at your expense. [Anyone remember that scene in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story where BL is on a date watching Breakfast at Tiffanys?]

It’s discouraging and makes me angry.

First of all, how in the world did I get on this video?

It was because of this blog entry, My Slanted Eyes are Beautiful, and yes, I got plenty of angry emails for that post.

But I’m not backing down. They are beautiful.

“But why discouraging and angry?”

Some folks will think this is funny or good comedy and even scarier, some may think this is a quasi-reflection of Asian culture. It feeds the machine of stereotypes, prejudice, racism, and blah blah blah.

Heck, 3 million+ views just on YouTube.

“Grow a backbone and thicker skin.”

Yes, that’s what I heard from several during the Deadly Vipers fiasco. I suppose there’s some legit truth there but when Asians generally feel there’s a limited exposure to Asian culture and expression and it’s hawked in videos like this and other stereotypes, we can’t help but try to defend our culture, expressions and people.

And I would throw this back at others as well: “You get thicker skin.” Don’t be so used to the stereotype of Asians being passive and believing in the model minority myth. We get angry, too – especially at injustice and prejudice.

“But our ultimate identity is in Christ.”

For sure.

But for us to deny the uniqueness of our identities including our ethnicity would be deny the sovereignty of God’s creation. God – with purpose – created me to be Korean with a Korean-American experience. This doesn’t supersede my identity as a child of God – created in His image // lost, wicked, and depraved // but redeemed by the grace and beauty of God. But it is nevertheless, an important part of my identity…

A Changing World

Most folks don’t know or care to learn about the stories of “others.” Don’t worry: I’m guilty of this as well. Just too darn busy or too into myself and my peeps, my tribes, my agenda…

But maybe it’s good and actually necessary for us to take a step into learning the stories of others particularly since our neighborhoods, churches, cities, country, and larger world is becoming so much more connected and diverse.

Here’s a few previous posts that might be worth checking out:

My point is this:

Diversity is the new normal. Don’t just get used to it, embrace it. Learn to thrive in it.

Finally, welcome to the month of June.

Did you know that May was Asian-American Heritage Month? Don’t feel bad…most folks don’t know either (or don’t care) but here’s an opportunity to learn 10 important dates in the narrative of Asian-American history.

Your choice to read it or not.

10 Facts You May Not Know About Asian-American History:

[read full article & list] Most of America isn’t aware that May is Asian-American Heritage Month. It’s a celebration that started in 1978, when Congress urged President Jimmy Carter to declare the week of May 4th “Asian-American Heritage Week.” (That date was chosen to coincide with the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843, and with the completion of the first transcontinental railroad — built largely by Chinese laborers — on May 10, 1869.) More recently in 1990, following another vote by Congress, President George H.W. Bush expanded Asian-American Heritage Week to encompass the entire month of May.

Sadly, Asian-American history and heritage is rarely taught in U.S. public schools. So for those of you who’ve missed such curriculum, here’s a list of 10 factoids you may not have known about the history of Asian-Americans in this country: [read the list]

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13 Responses

  1. jchenwa says:

    Hey P.E., it’s Jim. Long time, how are you and the family? This youtube video shows a lot of creativity and work. Too bad it’s vulgar and offensive to the Koreans and may I say all Asians? Well, I took offense, not too much though. It’s coarse humour at best, and I get it. Ha-ha. For what it’s worth I think Koreans are cool.

  2. thenaborhood says:

    Wow. This is… pretty disgusting I must say. Not surprising, but pretty horrible in general. The author pretty much has recorded almost every Asian stereotype I’ve ever heard to a music track and passed it off as–humor? Really? Sorry your image got snatched for this garbage. Especially considering your original intent for posting the picture.

  3. This sucks. I commented on Youtube, gave it a “thumbs down” and reported it as inappropriate. We’ll see if any of that helps.😦

  4. pauline says:

    i’m still in shock of the offensiveness of this video…

    and i guess we need people and money in order to help people become aware that May is Asian American month…

    thanks for sharing so hopefully there will be meaningful conversations and actions for the days to come… and for the future generations

  5. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Eugene Cho, Eugene Cho, dtrigueros, Joe Torrence, Joshua Trujillo and others. Joshua Trujillo said: RT @EugeneCho: Diversity is the new normal. Don't just get used to it, embrace it. Learn to thrive in it. – […]

  6. Dave Ingland says:

    It still kills me when I hear people making jokes in public forums (social media) such as twitter, youtube, facebook, etc. regarding Asians. Usually it will be something ridiculous like someone wanting to poke fun at Chinese people by making jokes about karate or sushi or Hyundais or something totally irrelevant. However, since Asians are all the same anyways, you make fun of one you make fun of them all. The biggest part of the whole issue for me is that people can do this towards Asians and not get any backlash. Not only is it safe to mock Asians, it’s rewarded with laughter and often-times Asians will be amongst those giving credibility to the mockery by laughing or jumping in with additional jabs. However, these same people wouldn’t dare go into some inner-city McDonald’s and do the same thing towards African-Americans.

    Sadder yet is that we as Asians somehow are being forced to accept some blame because we are the silent minority. We must shed our Asian culture of not stopping to the level of idiots in order to be recognized.

    Thanks for speaking up about the idiocy of stereotyping and foolish mocking of Asians since it isn’t funny and has no place in society. Yes, this applies to some Asians that think demeaning themselves–which actually demeans your mother, your sister, your wife & your children–is funny. It’s not, and you offend me more than someone who doesn’t know any better!

  7. your friend says:

    how can we think pure HATRED is funny?

  8. Steven Kim says:

    I’m not so much as offended as I feel dumbed down while watching a very childish and ignorant work. The stereotypes are all over the place and not all pointed at Koreans.

    Personally, I don’t get offended easily as I have developed a “thick skin” while living in the States for over 35 years. I’ve seen and experienced practically all forms of overt and not so overt racism. I try to laugh at myself and laugh with others, while extending grace to those that DO offend me by pointing out their ignorance and/or racism.

  9. Why do the lyrics say “I’m a korean”? Hitler was born in Austria, do we blame the Austrian people for what he did? The video almost makes Kim Jong Il a representative of the suggestion that Asia is filled with eccentric crazies. The entire video is offensive, belittling, with typical, lazy insults. I’m surprised people still find that kind of stuff funny. Asia is filled with dry cleaners, har har.

    I’m glad that you continue to speak to this message Eugene. I know you get a lot of crap for it, but it’s made me (and I’d guess many others) far more understanding. White america needs to be re-trained to see people as people and not as caricatures and stereotypes, and that’s only going to happen if you and others point this stuff out every time it happens. People will get mad at you, but the cool thing is you’ve still got their attention.

    keep going.

  10. Larry says:

    I agree with you Eugene that this video is offensive, and wasn’t going to post anything, but then I began to think about how the images were being used and that Kim Jong Il seems to be the target here or at least is the main figure in the video. This lead me to think if this piece is actual satire, which is fairly rare these days. Thinking of Jonathan Swift and his A Modest Proposal, where he suggested that poor Irish solve the problems of population and hunger by selling their babies for food to the rich. disgusting and repulsive and offensive to all.

    Swift was addressing the dehumanizing of the Irish by the British among other things. And if I am remembering the history around the publishing of this piece people thought this was a real proposal someone was putting forth

    Is stereotyping and prejudice being satirized. In that case the use of your image and that of the Dali Lama I think begins to make sense. Kim Jong Il is a dictator and has an oppresive regime. He is also Korean. Psychologicaly it is often argued that prejudice is based in the human ability and need to generalize from singular events and experiences. In foraging as hunter gatherers etc. there was the need to recognize beneficial and harmful food situation etc. Also, to process information around us there is the need to be able to see say an oak leaf once and then recognize anther oak leaf which is different but similar to the first instance. We do this with people groups and it then goes from stereotyping to prejudice, when I assume that all people with certain traits from certain countries and certain cultures are all like this one negative experience I had, or this one particular experience.

    This video seems to satirize prejuidice by making Kim Jong Il the Representative of everything Korean and even possibly Asian. Putting the Dali Lama’s face in there as just like Kim Jong Il, is patently absurd. You Eugen used the image of you used in the video to fight prejudice and stereotyping of Asians and degradation of certain features.

    All this doesn’t mean one shouldn’t be offended, it is offensive but I wonder if it is offensive precisely because it shows how prejudice works and that some people will think ya that’s right, and they have been caught in the satirists trap.

  11. Larry says:

    Oh and also the reference to Homer Simpson and yellow skin, is possibly another clue that this is satire.

  12. Irene says:

    Ugh, I just had to edumacate a friend about how ridiculously offensive the new Karate Kid movie is. I don’t understand how everyone still thinks it’s okay to continue living in ignorance.

  13. […] and that includes the country that I call home – the United States. And in a society where Diversity is the New Normal and an increase in tension with Immigration and Xenophobia issues, it’s that much more […]

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One Day’s Wages

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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