“We are living through a global pandemic and racial unrest. The level of rest we need to give ourselves right now should be high — higher even than before. Listen to your body. Take care of yourself. Because the work ahead is long and we must persevere.”Michelle Reyes, PhD and Vice President of the Asian American Christian Collaborative
“Did you and your husband get married overseas?” or “What kind of Asian are you?”
These, and many other invasive questions, have been lobbed at me like hand grenades in my time as a military spouse.
While these questions are usually asked politely, and typically by a well-meaning person, they always remind me of a fundamental truth. There is something identifiably different about me, something that I can’t take off, hide, or deny: my ethnicity as an Asian American woman.
Sometimes, and more often than I’d like, the things people have said to me over the years have been aggressive or degrading. Comments from my peers have been racially charged and others have thrown unwanted advances my way, citing some odd sexual fascination with Asian women.
I tread in the water by compartmentalizing these experiences. I navigate new social circumstances with care and concern- knowing that there is a distinct possibility that someone will want to discuss my ethnicity before they know my name. It is a brutal reality that I have to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for the carelessness of others in the way communicate with me.
I share all of this to say one thing to my fellow Asian American milspouses. I see you and I want to encourage you.
I have to admit that the effects of last week’s events in Atlanta ripped through me like shrapnel. I was an emotional wreck. Waves of grief and anger took turns crashing over me. Righteous indignation welled up in me and blew with the force of hurricane winds. This week, I find myself in a bit of an emotional hangover and searching for space to grieve.
Somewhere, somehow, a deranged individual began to fetishize Asian women, viewing them merely as sex objects, and then according to his deeply flawed convictions, decided to eliminate them as “temptations.”
As an Asian American Christian, Bible Teacher, and preacher, it is imperative to say that these actions were purely evil, completely indefensible by biblical standards, and should cause us to grieve substantially.
We are made in God’s image. Therefore, we have full dignity. Our bodies, facial features, dark complexion, and other physical features glorify God. These things are not, in fact, invitations for men to view us as objects.
Here are a few things to remember.
It’s okay to not be okay right now. You do not have to put on a good face or push forward without taking some time to reflect on how you feel and what you are experiencing. In addition, you do not have to spend yourself emotionally or labor to explain yourself to people who expect you to enlighten them surrounding the current circumstances. They can be responsible for the gaps in their understanding.
The conversation around advocacy and healing is happening. Here are few people to follow online. Vivian Mabuni hosts the “Someday is Here” group and podcast that elevates the Asian American voice in Christian circles. Raymond Chang and Michelle Reyes have founded the Asian American Christian Collaborative and are leading the way in creating space for Asian Americans to get involved, support one another, and be part of the solution of racial injustice. View the official AACC Statement on the Atlanta Massacre here.
Persevere in faith. My prayer is that you can learn to be redemptively hopeful – assured that the Lord is keenly aware of your suffering and He is with you. Hold in faith that we, as the Church, will stand together against the evil of racism and sexism. We believe in the fullness of God’s grace toward us and our ability to reach others in love.