I have that song from the musical Avenue Q stuck in my head….”Everyone’s a little bit racist, it’s true. Everyone’s a little bit racist, how about yoooooouuuuu?”
This is a song, that of course is sung by Sesame Street-esque puppets, and makes fun of everyone. It should make everyone cringe. I definitely cringe when I hear the lines sung by the Asian puppet—with the stereotypical music and in the stereotypical accent: “The Jews have all the money, and the whites have all the power. And I’m always in a taxi cab with a guy who no shower.”
This is not to say that stereotypes are wrong. This is not to say that because everyone gets made fun of, we should all just get over it.
But I want to go deeper. I want to understand why these things hurt so much. Hurt and confuse, and well—anger enough individuals, families, and communities that relationships can be very very broken, generations and generations later.
And to do this, I will no doubt need to dive in to the murky and sketchy place of stereotypes, generalizations, speculations.
So I say this now, if I offend you—sorry—please know that these are not necessarily my final thoughts on the subject. This blog is an attempt to work things out, to process—-and let’s face, it these things are hard to talk about to others in person. (It just caused a fight last night with my white spouse.)
That said, I also want to say this: we do not need to be too afraid to go here. We do have a Savior, we do have someone to go to with our brokenness, our hurt.
Knowing our brokenness, naming it—might be the worst thing in certain scenarios. Victoria, in the middling TV series, Revenge, said earlier this season, something to this effect: “in my world, to show your weakness is a vulnerability.” What she meant is that to show her weakness–her admitting the loss of her great, great wealth–is something her vicious circles would most definitely take advantage of, prey upon, look down upon. She says this to someone just entering her circles, coming from less vicious circles. But isn’t this true even in “less vicious” circles, like at church? We are not vulnerable because we don’t always feel safe. We don’t say more or confess how we really feel because we don’t know how others are going to take it. And the reality is—even at places like church, being unfiltered, being too vulnerable can lead to misunderstanding and judgement and worse.
But in Jesus, in Jesus—knowing our brokenness, naming it—-these are good things. We can then give it to him, and he can transform us even more! He can set us free! Romans 8:20-21: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it,in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”
Jesus died so that we can live live to the full. Says he in John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
He wants this full, abundant, rich life for us with him, the Father and the Holy Spirit. The way, is through him, following him through the cross. My cross—well for the purposes of this blog, are all these sketchy cultural, bi-cultural, multi-ethnic whatever things that are in my life.
As Jesus’ cross is not something to be over-sentimentalized and minimized, and though it is a much smaller cross than the Lord’s, neither is mine.