Archive for the 'race' Category


On Interracial Churches and Rev. Rodney Woo

Rev. Rodney Woo

Rev. Rodney Woo

Interesting CNN cover story yesterday on interracial churches and “Why Many Americans Prefer Their Sundays Segregated.” Good read.

Some great highlights:
What was he was going to do if more of “them” tried to join their church?
The article cites Rev. Rodney Woo, who is partly Chinese, showing a very Third Culture approach on his part. There was fear that more Asians would flood the church because of his last name but according to the article it seems like that’s far from reality. I wonder if there are Asians in his church? My guess is that if they go or don’t go it probably has nothing to do with Woo’s last name. The reverend doesn’t look very Chinese to me. Not a knock on him but just a statement that perhaps the reason why people (Asians) go or don’t go has little to do with his last name but it may be an issue for non-Asians.

The Rev. Rodney Woo, senior pastor of Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, may be such a person. He leads a congregation of blacks, whites and Latinos. Like many leaders of interracial churches, he is driven in part by a personal awakening.

Woo’s mother is white, and his father is part Chinese. He attended an all-black high school growing up in Port Arthur, Texas, where he still remembers what it was like to be a minority.
“Everyone understands the rules, the lingo, the mind-set — except you,” he says. “It was invaluable, but I didn’t know it at the time.”

When he became pastor of Wilcrest in 1992, he was determined to shield his church members from such an experience. But an exodus of whites, commonly referred to as “white flight” was already taking place in the neighborhood and the church.

Membership fell to about 200 people. At least one church member suggested that Woo could change the church’s fortunes by adding a “d” to his last name.

“The fear there was people would think I was Chinese,” he says. “There would be a flood of all these Asians coming in, and what would we do then?”

Woo kept his last name and his vision. He made racial diversity part of the church’s mission statement. He preached it from the pulpit and lived it in his life. He says Wilcrest now has about 500 members, and is evenly divided among white, Latino and black members.

Woo doesn’t say his church has resolved all of its racial tensions. There are spats over music, length of service, even how to address Woo. Blacks prefer to address him more formally, while whites prefer to call him by his first name, (a sign of disrespect in black church culture), Woo says.
Woo tries to defuse the tension by offering something for everyone: gospel and traditional music, an integrated pastoral staff, “down-home” preaching and a more refined sermon at times.

But he knows it’s not enough. And he’s all right with that.

“If there’s not any tension, we probably haven’t done too well,” he says. “If one group feels too comfortable, we’ve probably neglected another group.”


Engage Speaker Series: Living Out the Gospel Across Racial and Socio-Economic Lines

It’s been awhile since I’ve attended an ENGAGE speaker series event in NYC sponsored by PaLM. I’m hoping to go to one again. They’ve done a great job of exposing issues and equipping leaders to engage culture. If you’re in the New York area there’s one tonight featuring Christine Lee of All Angels Church.

“Living Out the Gospel Across Racial and Socio-Economic Lines”
Ephesians 2 says that Christ Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. So then as the familiar saying goes, why does 11 am continue to be “the most segregated hour of the week”? Come hear how one church – of professionals, families, students, artists, homeless men and women – has sought and struggled (and sometimes failed) to live out the reality of the gospel in community and overcome the dividing walls of race and class.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008
7:00pm – 9:00pm
All Angels Church
251 W. 80th Street New York, NY

Christine Lee is the Director of Spiritual Development and Outreach at All Angels’ Church, an evangelical Episcopal Church on the Upper West Side. She attended the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and received her M.Div. and Th.M. at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. After seminary, she spent a year and a half serving as a short-term missionary in Bangkok, Thailand, teaching Thai and tribal students at the Thailand Evangelical Seminary. In 1999, she joined staff with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, first at the University of Chicago and then Columbia University after getting married to Jimmy Lee in 2002. Before coming to All Angels, she worked for Habitat for Humanity – NYC engaging the faith community in volunteerism and advocacy around affordable housing issues.

All Angels’ Church Official Website
All Angels’ Church Mission Statement: To build Christ centered communities of witness and healing, and equip people to be a transforming presence in NYC and beyond.


Missional Living. Earn 200k. Live on 38k. Part 2

My post about Tom Hsieh has gotten a lot of attention. I’m glad that Danny, the music director at NewPointe Community Church caught wind of my post. His team decided to do something creative with the story. Read the post on his blog.

This Sunday, NewPointe Community Church will be doing a live conference with Tom Hsieh for part of their worship service. Listen live from their website,
It will feature towards the end of the message (around 9:45 or 11:45am).

Missional Living. Earn 200k. Live on 38k.


Missional Living. Earn 200k. Live on 38k.

Tom Hsieh is my hero. Hands down.
As an Asian man. As a father. As an entrepreneur. As a follower of Christ.

I think this was a precious find in People magazine [ Thanks David (Next.Generasian Church) ] last month juxtaposed between pages of celebrities and whatever in the world they are up to. Plus isn’t it great to see yet another interracial couple with a cute baby to spoil on? No. Recent research shows that interracial couples spend more time and money on their kids than parents who are both of the same race. I’ll save that thought for another time. The Hsiehs are an image of a interracial couple that will give their bi-racial child a different story.

But the point I want to make in this post is that from a policy perspective this is how urban renewal is supposed to work but who’s willing? Move into a community with high crime and unemployment? What about safety? What about my family? What about my children’s future? How about, Is this not what those have been called by follow Christ supposed to do?

I’m thrilled that Tom gives to Servant Partners, a ministry that I’m in love with. Their mission is consistent with the life demonstrated through the Hsiehs – living among the poor in community, leading humbly in the spirit of a servant, evangelizing boldly in faith beyond race, beyond class. Sounds like Jesus eh?

Tom Hsieh, People Magazine

Tom Hsieh could be living the American dream. An immigrant from Taiwan, he worked hard in school, got into a good college and today heads an L.A.- based telecommunications consulting firm. His annual pay: $2OO,OOO.
So where’s the big house and fancy car? “We could have that lifestyle,” Hsieh says. “But it’s not real.” What’s real, for Hsieh, is his deep faith and desire to help others. So Hsieh, 36, wife Bree, 31, and 13-month-old daughter Kadence live on a modest $38,000 a year.

The rest of Tom’s income goes to charity, including Servant Partners, a Christian group he and Bree belong to that sends young adults into urban areas to spread Christ’s teachings and practice community activism.

The family lives in a two-bedroom duplex in South Pomona, a community battered by crime and unemployment. There, Hsieh and his wife talk to young people about getting on a better path, and lead efforts to make the streets safer. Santos Ramos, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Pomona, says the Hsiehs have the community respect. “Politicians come and go, but when educated people live next door, there’s hope.”

Still, it’s not exactly an immigrant parent’s dream. Some years ago, Hsieh told his parents, “I’ll always make sure there’s a roof over your head, but I won’t be the successful Chinese son who buys you a BMW.” His daughter won’t need such explanations. “She’s growing up,” he says, “knowing there more to life than possessions.” – People Magazine, Dec 24, 2007

Using my uncanny stalker skills I was able to find Tom Hsieh’s personal profile on . .
Sounds familiar. . . like Mark 10?


Interracial Dating – It’s tough to be Asian

Earlier this month there was a study published written by Columbia Business School professor Ray Fisman on theories of dating or choice-making based on data collected from speed-dating experiments in Chicago. Part of the study looked at interracial dating preferences. As you may know I have a major interest in this area. Looking through some articles and the Fisman study there are upsides and downsides.

I guess the good news for some would be that people generally choose to marry within their own race. It is perceived widely in Asian American culture that Asian women increasingly tend to outmarry. I think this study does offer some practical and logical insight. For starters, the study notes that Asian women exhibit a strong same race preference than their male counterparts. There is no evidence of the stereotype of a White male preference. But throw in that attractiveness factor and Asian men fall last.

“For male partners, our main finding is that Asians generally receive lower ratings than men of other races. In fact, when we run the regressions separately for each race, we find that even Asian women find white, black, and Hispanic men to be more attractive than Asian men. “

Ouch. That hurts a bit.

If the controlling factor is preference based on attractiveness…then Asian men are the least desirable. If you’re a good looking Asian dude. . . you’re to be envied.

However, the bias runs both ways…
female Asian partners are consistently rated as less attractive, though we also find that black females receive significantly lower ratings relative to whites. As above, we find that when these regressions are run separately for each race, even Asian men find white, black, and Hispanic women to be more attractive than Asian women.

Asians received low marks on attractiveness from all races including Asians themselves.
For a long time many Asian men and bloggers have wondered why it appears that more Asian women out-marry. Is it really true? Does this study prove that there is a preference or none at all?

One conclusion about preference that the study demonstrates is simply this, who you spend the most time with you end up choosing. Our choices are really more rational than anything. Lawyers with lawyers. Doctors with doctors. These are the people you meet on a daily basis and spend the most time around. Perhaps the factors are more geographic/social integration rather than specific racial preferences. What choices do you have? This tendency goes for race and religion as well. The bloggers at Poplicks summarizes these findings well.

The full study can be downloaded here in pdf form.
Other research by OSU’s Zhenchao Qian [pdf download]. Article by Ray Fisman, An Economist Goes to the Bar, and solves the mysteries of dating

This reminds me of a story from pioneering pastor David Gibbons of NewSong who’s a Korean-White mix. He attended Bob Jones University south of the Mason-Dixon line at a time where he was one of a handful of Asian faces. He had to indicate what race he would date and so Dave thought his chances were higher if he would check off White. This was a very practical and logical decision not because he had a preference for White women. BJU didn’t look too favorably upon this but how could Gibbons decide? If you’ve seen David Gibbons in person, he don’t look very mixed at all. He looks very Korean.

Sorry Dave if I butchered your story. I love you man.
The school only lifted its ban on interracial dating in 2000.
So is it tough to be Asian? or not?


33 Million Asians by 2050

The Asian American immigrant population has passed the 10 million mark, making up about a quarter of the 37.5 million immigrants in the United States in 2006, says data released by the U.S. Census Bureau in September.

Nationally, the projected number of U.S. residents of Asian descent, fueled largely by new immigrants, is expected to rise to eight percent or 33 million by 2050. The anticipated growth of 213 percent in the APA population is the fastest of any racial group, compared to a predicted 49 percent increase in the United States’ population as a whole over the same period.

More than 1.2 million new residents settle in the United States each year as a result of both legal and illegal immigration, producing steady population increases in states like California, which has more immigrants than any other state.

Link to AsianWeek article, “Asian American Immigrants Top 10 Million”


Racism on the Decline Evidenced by Rise in Interracial Marriages

Interracial Marriage Interracial Marriage Interracial Marriage

Here’s a tidbit from Paul Krugman, author of the new book, The Conscience of a Liberal, citing that we are becoming less white and less racist evidenced by our rising acceptance of interracial marriages

Beyond the blunt, crude fact that America is getting less white, there’s a more uplifting reason to believe that the political exploitation of race may be losing its force: As a nation we’ve become much less racist. The most dramatic evidence of diminishing racism is the way people respond to questions about a subject that once struck terror into white hearts: miscegenation.

In 1978, as the ascent of movement conservatism to power was just beginning, only 36 percent of Americans polled by Gallup approved of marriages between whites and blacks, while 54 percent disapproved. As late as 1991 only a plurality of 48 percent approved. By 2002, however, 65 percent of Americans approved of interracial marriages; by June 2007, that was up to 77 percent.

Is racism actually declining?
Perhaps a little.
But the system is still broke. Especially when you see life through non-White eyes.

Also See:
• How a New Generation Navigates Through Interracial Marriage from New American Media
Cornell Research Examines Interracial Marriage amongst Blacks
Recent Gallup Poll

Interracial Relationships: UK “Asians” More Likely Intolerant and Racist


Wanted: Chinese Creatives

Phillip LimPeter Somanna sui
Photos of fashion designers Phillip Lim, Peter Som, Anna Sui from Patrick McMullan from

By and large Chinese ministries, organizations and culture rarely recognize the role that creatives or creative professionals have in shaping the world around us even when the Asian design aesthetic has been so influential in recent years. Creatives are professionals/workers in art, design, advertising, marketing, and communications. They are the designers, writers, directors, architects, fashion designers and more. They are thoughtful and sensitive to how people think and live. They’re great strategic thinkers. They walk to the sound of a different drum. They design and communicate. What they do serves people.

Great design always connects with people. Designers inspire, provoke, validate, entertain and provide utility for people. To truly connect, designers need to have compassion and empathy for their audiences. Designers need to understand the relationship between what they produce and the meaning their product has for others. And they need to observe the people they are designing for in their own environments. – AIGA

Attach the word “design” or “award winning design” to a product and it instantly becomes a coveted object of desire. Target has really capitalized on this ethos with their mantra, “design for all”. We now believe that we can achieve better living through design.

US companies are quickly realizing that they must adapt cross-cultural strategies with creatives being key to reach key markets in China.

“Being a graphic designer in a global economy requires you to think about cultures and communication in a whole new way. Designers are now required to not only be thoughtful, but also sensitive and strategic in their thinking around cross-cultural design. As China opens up, and the economy there expands, we expect to see more work like this. In other words, we are keeping the Chinese type on our computers.” – Design Student

RED Network is an Asian design collective of creatives with bilingual and bi-cultural backgrounds focused on developing culturally appropriate products and business strategies. The network consists of Kaizor Innovation in HK, Y Studios, and culturalANTENNA in North America. Companies like these are quickly becoming hot resources for Western companies to reach Asian markets both in the hotbed of China and stateside. I’m sure we’ll see many more.

I wish we’d see these type of partnerships and innovative strategic thinking in the Asian Church. I wish more that Chinese churches would embrace and value creatives. In most Chinese families the creative professions or arts are not encouraged as a career choice for their idols, I meant to say children. Typically, it becomes a choice through years of outright or suppressed rebellion, when they’ve had it with their major or day job or when they’ve finally made enough money.

Creatives don’t quite fit in with your traditional immigrant church set up. It’s too stuffy. Second generation creatives most likely leave the immigrant church because they’ve may have been chastised for their non-traditional thinking or worse for their choice of clothing and hair color. Their career choice appear to have little value for the world. Parents offer critical or strange glances in passing. They’re “creative” and traditional church leadership doesn’t know how to work with that. Creatives, your artists, are generally not folks who like to conform but they have very keen insight into life. We need creatives in the church.

What if Chinese churches partnered with the creatives in their congregations? What if they partnered together to reach and shape the culture around them? What if second generation creatives helped immigrant churches with their websites?

What if. Just what if.


The Multiracial Divide Without Easy Answers: Dorothy Counts

The sounds of chatter and roaring bus engines once more fill my street.
School has officially started.
Most kids have been dreading this moment for weeks. Many parents are ecstatic and feel that it couldn’t come any sooner.
but Life goes on.
The first day of school. Remember what that was like?
Making new friends. Getting to see old ones. Observing the changes. Feeling a little bit older or not. The jitters.
I can’t imagine how Dorothy Counts must have felt. It’s been 50 years since the integration of 4 black students into the city schools of Charlotte. Three made it to school and back rather peacefully. The fourth one really made news. The story of Dorothy Counts and the pictures of her experience that day reveal so much about ourselves and the complexities of a diverse United States. After enduring 3 days of being taunted, spat upon, and harassed by fellow white classmates her father thought it would be best for her to withdraw from school. He issued a striking statement.

“It is with compassion for our native land and love for our daughter Dorothy that we withdraw her as a student at Harding High School. As long as we felt she could be protected from bodily injury and insults within the school’s walls and upon the school premises, we were willing to grant her desire to study at Harding.

“Contrary to this optimistic view, her experiences at school on Wednesday disillusioned our faith and left us no alternative.

“In enrolling Dorothy in Harding High School, we sought for her the highest in educational experience that this tax supported school had to offer a young American. Yet, when a continuous stream of abuses undermines this objective our purposes are nullified and the effects are damaging to ethical and religious training.

“Needless to say that we regret the necessity which makes the withdrawal expedient. This step, taken for security and happiness, records in our history a page which no true American can read with pride.

“Dorothy has received communications from hundreds of Americans and from at least a dozen foreign countries since her first day at Harding High School. This indicates that this historic event will be read simultaneously in England, Holland, Korea and Charlotte — reflecting credit or discredit to the individual’s understanding of and attitude toward American democracy.

“In view of this fact, we wish to express our most sincere gratitude to the many friends of democracy and Christianity in America and abroad, for their understanding and appreciation for our daughter’s modest efforts to enjoy full citizenship in the country which we all love.

“The true heart of America and the faith in human rights expressed by telegrams, telephone calls, local police power, and letters from friends in America and in foreign countries comfort us and strengthen our belief that our cause is just and ultimately must win.”

– The Counts Family

These pictures say so much. Somehow it still all looks so familiar.
Dorothy Counts

Dorothy Counts

It’s only been 50 years and under the same breath, it’s been 50 years.

The Charlotte Observer: A Dorothy Counts Story.
50 Years Later, A Portrait of Pride and Prejudice


Chinese Entrepreneurs Choosing Africa

Chinese Entrepreneurs Choosing Africa
Photo: Benedicte Kurzen for The New York Times

It’s a fact that there’s Chinese people like…everywhere.

The New York Times highlights a wave of Chinese entrepreneurs choosing places like Africa for living and doing business rather than the traditional US and Europe spots like many from the Fujian province.

The article highlights Yang Jie who started an ice cream company in South Africa and now it’s the country’s biggest. He figured in a subtropic climate ice cream would be in high demand. smart guy!
now there’s many stories like that streaming from young guys like Yang.

“Before I left China,” said Mr. Yang, now 25, “I thought Africa was all one big desert.” So he figured that ice cream would be in high demand, and with money pooled from relatives and friends, he created his own factory at the edge of Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital. The climate is in fact subtropical, but that has not stopped his ice cream company from becoming the country’s biggest.

Chinese Entrepreneurs Choosing Africa

This is not without its downside. Africans may lose out. There may be some tensions and growing anti-Chinese sentiment.

“We expect a large influx of at least 40,000 Chinese in the coming years,” said Renaud Dinguemnaial, director of Chad’s Chamber of Commerce. “This massive arrival could be a plus for the economy, but we are also worried. When they arrive, will they bring their own workers, stay in their own houses, send all their money home?”In Zambia, where anti-Chinese sentiment has been building for several years, merchants at the central market in Lusaka, the capital, said that if Chinese people wanted to come to Africa, they should come as investors, building factories, not as petty traders who compete for already scarce customers for bottom-dollar items like flip-flops and T-shirts.

“The Chinese claim to come here as investors, but they are trading just like us,” said Dorothy Mainga, who sells knockoff Puma sneakers and Harley Davidson T-shirts in the Kamwala Market in Lusaka. “They are selling the same things we are selling at cheap prices. We pay duty and tax, but they use their connections to avoid paying tax.”

That just sounds so very Chinese. Can it change?

NYTimes: Entrepreneurs From China Flourish in Africa

On another note…

Angelica and LT

I love my girl Angelica. That’s me and her at her farewell party.
She’s headed out to Senegal with the peace corps in just a matter of days.
She’s Chinese and she loves Africa. I love that.
Read her blog!

[american born chinese pastor]
seeks to be that third place for those who are american born chinese [abc] in ministry.
here we may explore issues unique to the chinese church and doing ministry in that context
expand the intersection of asian american culture and christian faith
or simply expose what goes on in the mind of this abcpastor

this may be a bit ambitious or even naiive but i do hope that through the posts we can bring together different faith communities, passions for the advancement of the Gospel and the equipping of the body of Christ.

if you are an abc pastor or have any suggestions or would like to contribute to make this space evolve, just comment.

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