Redeeming Race

June 11th, 2008

Last fall I met Mariko in a church membership class. She took a genuine interest in getting to know me, and pretty soon we were talking about my ethnic background, which is a topic that white people that I meet or work with (or even those who are already my friends) don’t usually bring up with me. She then invited me to a “focus group” to discuss racial issues in the church. It had never occurred to me that racial issues are related to my spiritual life, but when Mariko and her husband Paul showed a keen interest in my race-related journey/story, I felt that this was very important and that God had something to do with it.

When I was asked the question, “On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the greatest, to what degree does race affect your daily life?” Honestly, I really didn’t know how to answer that question. But it sure made me think a lot. True, when I look at myself in the bathroom mirror every morning, I see a female with black hair and brown skin, but I don’t regard myself as any different from my friends or co-workers who have lighter or even darker colored hair or skin. But there have been times in my life when I seriously wished I were white, had blond hair and blue eyes, or that I didn’t have this ethnic “baggage” to carry.

I am quite fortunate to not have had blatant experiences of racism. Maybe it was due to the fact that I lived for a while in very diverse California. But there have been plenty of times where I felt like an outsider, like I didn’t belong. I couldn’t really determine whether it was because I looked different or because of my personality, but the way people treated me made me feel that there was something Read the rest of this entry »