i have been trying to process the events surrounding youth specialties/zondervan and asian american ministry leaders like soong-chan rah. if you’re in the dark, there was a fairly offensive skit published in a popular youth ministry resource called skits that teach by eddie james and tommy woodard published by zondervan. furthermore, there’s an accompanying mp3 with answering machine voices that can be downloaded.
here’s an excerpt:
“Herro, Dis is Wok’s Up Restaurant calling to confirm your order. . . . I think that, yes, you total is 14 dollar 95 cent.”
“Herro? This is Wok’s Up Restaurant again. We have drive and drive, and we can’t find you house. We don’t find you house soon, you pu pu get cold. Pu pu good when it hot.”
(Hostile) “Okay, we drive for long time looking for you house. I tell you, you go outside and I look for you. I am driving a red Rincon (Lincoln) Continental. You pu pu still getting cold. Bye!
“Okay, I drive for long time and I stil not find you house. So I am eating you pu pu! Ruckiry it still warm. I was hungry, so I eat it. Mmmmm . . . this pu pu is good. (Smacks lips a few times) You on my bad rist. You don’t call us anymore. Bye!
zondervan/ys has shown some corrective responses, including a public apology from mark oestreicher that i believe was incredibly contrite and continues to outline further steps taken to make right what he can. i very much appreciate his response and the efforts taken.
i’ve tended to stray away from using many youth specialties materials of if possible as a youth minister because i found that it didn’t always connect with my students or myself. when i first started in ministry i used many of the materials but gradually i found that they for lack of better words were very “white.” i’m not saying that they’re bad materials at all. i think youth specialties does great things for youth ministry at large, particularly for more “american” youth. to be grossly general, asian american kids deal with different things. the needs are simply different especially when they find themselves more stuck between two cultures or more.
positively thinking, i think this will help zondervan move in a new direction to cater to or at the very least be more sensitive to an increasingly diverse audience. but this blindspot needed be brought to their attention. i do believe that this plays a role in God’s redemptive plan. i think that the process of this reconciliation between ys/zondervan and the aa community though painful has gone better than anticipated.
as for those of us who are asian american, i think if over the years prior to this incident if the lack of connection in mainstream youth resources hasn’t made us more creative to develop our own materials that it ought to encourage us to produce our own. now if this skit was produced by one of our own and it was clearly ours for our community…would it have been ok? perhaps.