Friday, March 24, 2017

Being an Asian Adoptee in the White Church [in the Era of Trump]




I recently posted the following to my personal FB page, and I ended up getting more feedback on it than I expected:


In the era of Trump, one in which White Evangelicals are playing a crucial role in propelling forward a White Nationalist [Supremacist] agenda, I am realizing that as not only an Asian woman but as a transracially, transnationally adopted Asian woman, the White Church in which I was raised and groomed to uphold Whiteness has become a decreasingly safe place for me (and for my kids). If this statement alarms you, it should alarm you. But perhaps not for the reasons you think.
White Church has increasingly become a source of burden and dread, because it is a place where the experiences and perspectives that define who I am as a person of color and as a transracial, transnational adoptee are fundamentally neglected, dismissed, and rejected. Therefore, I have increasingly come to realize that there is no place for me within the White Church, because the White Church can neither acknowledge nor meet the needs of my personal, familial, and social reality.
I have learned over time that Whiteness, and in particular “good Christian” Whiteness can rarely handle being challenged or made uncomfortable--and ultimately it is incredibly resistant to change.
It will perfunctorily smile and open its arms to you, but it will not try to understand you or enter your world. And if you dare to challenge it or make it uncomfortable then the deflective tool and manipulation of false victimhood will manifest in the form of the ever-flowing, eternal fount of White tears to shut you down and accuse you of perpetrating some terribly hateful act upon their Whiteness--simply by doing nothing more than expressing your reality as a person of color.
White Church, I don’t despise you. It’s just time for me to stop trying to fit into your tiny White box. There’s a whole wide world out there full of beautiful, diverse people. Who love and want to be loved.
I hope you find your way out of your dark slumber.
Until, then, farewell...not forever, but for now.

* * *


I had several people private message me who wanted clarification or further explanation.


I don’t in any way feel obligated to explain myself. But I do hope that by providing further clarification, those who expressed they can relate will feel further understood and that those who expressed concern will further understand.


First of all, being aware of my personal context as an Asian person who was adopted into Whiteness is crucial. I grew up in the unique position of being raised in a White family within the White Church within the White community as though I was a White girl, despite the fact that I am obviously Asian.




In short, I was an outsider given an inside look into Whiteness due to assumed assimilation conferred [forced] upon me by adoption.


That inside look was not flattering to Whiteness.


Being an undercover Asian showed me that Whiteness ultimately wants to subjugate people like me to it to ensure the perpetuation of a system that favors and upholds Whiteness, especially if it can do so under the guise of goodness and godliness. (I’m not saying that my personal experience can be generalized to everyone, but after spending more than four decades living as an undercover Asian in a White World, my experiences and perspectives are certainly more than negligible and no less than valid.)


I was raised going to White Church surrounded [indoctrinated] by White experience and culture. As long as I assimilated and internalized the perspectives and views of Whiteness, then ultimately my Asianness could be used for the purpose of supporting and upholding Whiteness.


My token presence within the White Church was not only tolerated but seen as a way to serve the appearance of “diversity,” so that the White Church could applaud itself and provide “proof” that it is indeed inclusive. (See, look, we have an Asian person here!) My Asian presence in the White Church allowed for White culture and perspectives (i.e., white superiority) to be perpetuated as the ideal, as the pinnacle of Christianity.


In other words, my presence in the White Church was acceptable, even desirable as it was an opportunity to convert me to Whiteness (under the guise of godliness), as long as I complied. My Asianness was negligible, maybe even entertaining at times, only as long as it posed no threat and caused no discomfort to the Whiteness that came to me for affirmation and confirmation.


However, the less “compliant” and “assimilated” that I have become as I have allowed my identity to become more reflective of all of who I am, the less acceptance and tolerance I have found. The more secure and the more outward in my identity as an Asian woman and as an unapologetic adoptee, the less secure my place has become within Churchianity, and specifically within White Churchianity.


In short, unapologetic Asian adoptee = very uncomfortable White Church.


In other words, they liked me so much better when I was the noble savage, when I was the quiet Asian girl who sat quietly and compliantly, supporting and upholding their Whiteness. The minute I began to challenge the status quo by voicing an alternative narrative, i.e., challenge their White Savior Complex built upon a belief in White superiority was when I no longer served their purposes and hence, was no longer eligible to be tolerated. They could no longer identify me as an accomplice to Whiteness, but rather I became a traitor. And hence, I became a threat.

* * *


I have come to conclude all of this based not on a sudden whim or convenient caprice, but based on personal, tangible experiences over the years. Rather than any single event, it is a lifetime, a collective culture of both passive and active repression, invalidation, negligence, condescension, dismissal, and the like by the White Church, whether by leadership or members, of the reality of my daily life as an adopted person of color that has led me to this place. Furthermore, I have also witnessed both overt and covert racialist practices within White Church openly and unapologetically perpetrated by White leadership and carried out by White members.
While these practices and behaviors can take on many forms or manifestations, ultimately, in my relationships within the White Church, I have experienced the culmination of the fragility of Whiteness. In particular, it has increasingly reached a tipping point as Trump has risen to power.


Despite sincere efforts to salvage and preserve my connection to the White Church, the era of Trump has forced me to come to terms with the reality that White Church is no longer a safe or healthy place for me to be. I have witnessed and experienced just how unsustainable my presence is within a Church that is blind to the reality of People of Color. There are churches that I once attended at which friends of mine are still a part, and I cringe when I hear about the way the perspectives and concerns of people of color are being dismissed, silenced, ignored, and forced to submit to the fragility of Whiteness.


But ultimately, I realize that White Church has not changed in the era of Trump, but rather I have changed. I know now, as I emerge from my stupor, that White Church has always been this way, and it only becomes increasingly so under the current regime. In the era of Trump, the White Church falls deeper into a coma of Whiteness, while I continue to awaken and shed the Whiteness that was thrust upon me.


As I continue to awaken, and as I stated above, the White Church has increasingly become a source of burden and dread, because it is a place where the experiences and perspectives that define who I am as a person of color and as a transracial adoptee are fundamentally neglected, dismissed, and rejected. But again, it has always been this way. There has never been a place for me within the White Church, beyond being subjugated to uphold Whiteness.


As I expressed above, I have learned over time that Whiteness, and in particular “good, Christian” Whiteness cannot handle being challenged or made uncomfortable. If you dare to challenge it or make it uncomfortable then the deflective tool and manipulation of false victimhood will manifest in the form of the ever-flowing, eternal fount of White tears to shut you down and accuse you of perpetrating some terribly hateful act upon their Whiteness--simply by doing nothing more than expressing your reality as a person of color.


And it is that very fact that sums up why I cannot actively choose to remain within the White Church--by doing nothing more than simply expressing my reality as a person of color (and as an adopted person of color), I am perceived as a threat to the White Church. It is a place where I am not permitted to express my reality as an adopted person of color without experiencing backlash.


Hence, now that I am an adult with a choice, I choose to no longer subject myself to being marginalized by a church that is supposed to be the paragon of love simply for sharing the experiences that make me who I am.


* * *


While my friends who are not Christians are vexed by why I would continue to associate with people within the Church, my friends who are (White) Christians border on viewing me as somewhere along a spectrum between ingratitude and secularism to heresy and lunacy. Both sides view me as in need of rehabilitation.


While I don’t necessarily want to be in the place that I am, I do not see myself as in need of rehabilitation. (If anything, the Church is need of rehabilitation.) But I do see myself as in need of grace, patience, and compassion, not because I’ve gone all apostate, but because I need time to work through real, valid experiences that have essentially taught me that who I am is not valued within the White Church.


Ultimately, the era of Trump has finally forced me to be honest with myself. To ask myself, why am I still here? Why do I continue to try to make a place for myself in a Church that obviously values its Whiteness over almost everything else, including the Jesus they claim to follow?


When I asked myself this recently, I realized that I am not still here, or rather, there. And that I have not been for quite some time.


Some would accuse me of giving up. Rather, I see that I am choosing to move on. To what exactly? To be honest, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m done trying to make a space for myself in a Church that has never valued me beyond its own agenda and need for affirmation.


Some would view me as one who has become “radicalized” or “apostate” in my thinking. But again, that interpretation of my perspective is through the lens of Whiteness.


Why is it so radical that, I, a person who was born Korean, would return to and begin to cultivate my origins as an adult? Why is it so radical that I would grow up to question the White American version of Churchianity after experiencing consistent repression, marginalization, racism, and rejection at the whims of White Christians? Why am I apostate for allowing myself to be Asian?


It’s only apostate to those who subscribe to the ethnocentric doctrine of American Whiteness.


Rather, you should be asking yourself, why is Whiteness the standard by which all others and all things are measured? You should be asking yourself, why do White Americans think they have a monopoly on understanding Christianity? You should be asking why am I expected to wholly forsake my Asian origins in favor of Whiteness?


But understand this--while I increasingly disavow the label of Christian, and in particular the White Church, I am not disavowing Jesus. Rather I am disavowing the Whiteness that was forced upon me before I was old enough to know I had a choice. It is not that I am wholly rejecting that part of me which is White American, but rather I am rejecting that part of Whiteness that would have me forsake my Korean origins. I am rejecting that part of Whiteness which cannot conceive or understand, therefore cannot accept the whole of who I am.


And I am moving on from the White Church, because I cannot thrive as an authentic human being surrounded by such stifling expectations of blind compliance and submission to Whiteness. I am moving on because as an adopted person of color, my story and experience have been treated as valuable only when its has served to affirm the superiority and sacrifice of White Saviorism.


It is no longer the Whiteness of the White Church that I need or want or seek. Rather I want and seek Jesus and his people--they are my safe place. Because ultimately, Jesus’s Church is not a place. Rather his Church is his people. And his people are those who love as he loves.


So, of course, I am still going to love those within the White church, even the ones who reject my Asianness and my unapologetic adopteeness. And I am committed to loving even those who would treat me as though they are my enemies. But loving doesn’t always mean I have to surround myself in a room filled with people who fundamentally have no desire to connect, engage, or understand. There comes a time when you just gotta shake the dust off your shoes and move on.


Sometimes, loving means continuing to speak the truth, even when nobody likes it. Sometimes, loving means being unapologetically authentic, because loving your neighbor as yourself starts with knowing and being true to yourself.


I don’t know where I am going from here. I don’t know that I will ever find for what I am searching. But I do know that it’s not here. And it’s not there.


I do believe that it is somewhere beyond. Beyond what I can see, and perhaps beyond what I can reach in this lifetime.


All I can do at this point is be true. Be true in the love that I know and continue to seek.


I said it above, and I will say it again…


White Church, I don’t despise you. It’s just time to stop trying to fit into your tiny White box. There’s a whole wide world out there full of beautiful, diverse people. Who love and want to be loved.


I hope you find your way out of your dark slumber.

Until, then, farewell...not forever, but for now.




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