0207 - What About The Other “Other”? More Than A Black/White Conversation (w/ Duke Kwon)

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Hosts: Isaac Adams & Trillia Newbell

Guest: Duke Kwon

Overview: “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” (Luke 18:11)

Should our conversations about race and the church only be black and white? What is lost if we don’t have a wider conversation, and what is gained from having a broader conversation that includes those of other ethnicities? 

Korean-American pastor Duke Kwon joins Trillia Newbell and Isaac Adams to discuss his experience as the other “other.” What is it like to be considered different than the norm? How has the model minority myth factored into the race conversation even in the church—and what is that myth? 

Kwon explains how different experiences can be even within certain cultures. Cambodians experience life differently than Vietnamese, and these experiences can be very different than that of Koreans. And yet, in Christ, we are one — how can we live out that unity? Kwon explains what pushes back against that unity and why many Asian-Americans will take about being perpetually foreign. 

“No matter how long you’ve been here,” Kwon said,  “You’re always seen as different and foreign. People are always asking you where you’re from, and it leads to an ongoing sense of marginalization. It’s a subtle thing, but very impactful: When you get asked ‘Where are you from?’ your entire life, again and again, you start to internalize this message: I must not belong. I must not be from here. I must not be seen as a true neighbor.” 

Join Isaac, Trillia, and Duke as they discuss how Asian-Americans have been used as a foil for black people and how understanding what it means to be black and white in this country informs what it means to be Asian in this country. 

“If we’re going to unravel this crazy, broken, sometimes sinful knot that is what it means to be a racial person in this country, we need to get to the heart of the black/white struggle,” Kwon said. He continued to discuss why it is that people draw from other resources besides Scripture in this conversation, and why that leads to defensiveness. Yet it also presents an opportunity to the American church to mix up their conversation and biblically inform it so that conversations about race are a part of faithful, biblical discipleship. 

Links & Show Notes:

1. Article: “Why Asian Americans Struggle to Feel at Home in White-Majority Churches” by Steve Chang

2. Article: “Being Asian American in a White Church” by Tim Chiang

3. Academic Article: “The History of the Idea of Race…and Why It Matters” by Audrey Smedley

4. Book: “White Awake: An Honest Look at What it Means to Be White” by Daniel Hill

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Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by Rob Alvey