Even though it’s already over halfway through the month, I thought I would mention that May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month. Check out Enscriptchun for some great links to various voices in the Asian American blogosphere. I definitely resonate with Enscriptchun’s words about APA Heritage month:
I’m quite aware of the issues surrounding the relegation of the vast sum of Asian Pacific culture and history being reduced to a single month celebration, but it’s nice to have some recognition of contributions of our people, right?
Many of us have endured more outright racism than we’d like to remember. Even innocent sounding questions like, “No, where are you really from?” or well-intentioned (but totally wrong) statements such as, “I don’t even think of you as being Asian” only serve to reinforce the notion that we don’t belong here, that we’re something other than “normal.”
This morning, I heard a piece on NPR by Dmae Roberts called Secret Asian Woman — you can listen to the audio here or watch this video she produced. Although she speaks specifically about her multiracial identity, I found myself relating to much of her story — the struggle, pain and weariness from being Asian in America and learning to forge a new sense of identity in the face of a culture that often belittles, dismisses or ignores us.
It has taken me many years to recognize my God-given identity as an Asian American follower of Christ. For so many years, I lived in the marginality of “neither/nor” — neither fully Asian nor completely American. While this sense of spiritual homelessness has made me cling to my ultimate heavenly citizenship, as I have walked with God over the years my perspective has shifted dramatically. I have begun to see myself as “both/and” — in all of the beauty and mess that being both Asian and American means.
In many ways, being “both/and” people uniquely positions us for missional leadership. Many of us, in order to survive adolescence, had to learn to navigate fluidly between different cultures inside and outside the home. We had to learn to process, filter and recontextualize information and learning to the appropriate cultural setting. As Friend of Missional describes, “A missional church knows that they must be a cross-cultural missionary (contextual) people and adopt a missionary stance in relation to their community.
Third culture is the mindset and will to love, learn, and serve in any culture, even in the midst of pain and discomfort.
Perhaps one of our greatest contributions (in addition to some pretty cool musical endeavors), as “both/and” Asian American followers of Christ, will be to build third culture churches who are actively engaged in the mission of God in the world.