27 November, 2013

Malcolm X's "House Negro vs Field Negro"

Before beginning reading this entry, it's better to listen to Malcolm X's speech before going any further.  There's no point reading this posting and not knowing what I'm talking about.

So what does this speech have to do with spirituality?  Lots.  This is not a pragmatic compare and contrast between conventional Christian versus Islam ideology in the Black Community.  This speech was made some 50 years ago, and the majority would argue that this speech is irrelevant now that we have a Black President in office.  Not only do I beg to differ, but I want to venture out and say that this isn't only applicable to the African American community, but all ethnic communities of color still being marginalized by White AmeriKKKa.

As a person of Asian descent, I know squarely and clearly that Asians are too divided along the "House" and the "Fields."  It's just that the House Asians, (mostly females) didn't just make it into "Master's House" but also into "Master's Bedroom."  (Both figuratively and literally)

Wait, so what does this have to do with spirituality?

First off, after the incident involving Pastor Rick Warren, there was a constituent of Asian Christians who protested against the coalition of Asian pastors who demanded/requested a formal apology from Warren.  Their response was basically that because Warren has done so much for the Kingdom of God, he has no need to apologize and on top of that, as Christians, the Asian pastors failed in the example by "not forgiving" Warren.


Truth be told, not only do Asian House Negros exist in the Christian Church, the Christian Church basically serves as an incubator for the development of AHN.  Utilizing the urgency to "save souls" of the "heathen Asian culture," the Church has placed themselves into the position of power by placing an entire community based on their ethnicity and culture to "be saved."  Consequently they leave the community of believers with an excessive amount of guilt because of their ethnic and cultural background.

The good news about the Pastor Rick Warren incident is that it sheds light to a problem that no one is willing to talk about.

Actually doesn't have the Cojones to bring up.

One of the strength of Asian ideology (call is Confucianism or Zen, or Tao, whatever) is the fact of the capability to make the best of a situation, flow with it, and be able to adapt with little to no resistance to the situation, regardless of challenges or difficulties that situation presents.

It can be a strength as well as weakness.

Can you see how a community can be exploited with such a mentality?

One of my professors with a Jewish background pointed out to us in class about how language and words can influence a culture.  He cited the Yiddish term, "chutzpah" as an example.  He said without that term, the Jewish community coping mechanism to institutional discrimination would've been compromised.  Conversely he pointed out that especially in the Chinese culture, no such word or term exist in the Chinese language (both Mandarin and Cantonese) and the closest term is presented as a negative trait.

So I'll be the first to admit that my ethnic background lacks "chutzpah."  

So when missionaries or church leaders approach their Asian souls to "save," there's very little resistance or questioning about whether their theology is correct or not.  "Heathen culture?"  Guilty.  "Idolatry?" Guilty.  One former Sunday school teacher told me how he broke ties from his family because they still practiced the gravesite visitation as observed on the Chinese calendar.  Buddhism, folk religion, Shintoism, Taoism, and Confucianism are all considered "satanic."

And the Typical Asian House Negro Christian replies, "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned."

Before I go any further, there needs to be come clarifications:
1) Not all Christians are abusing the Name of God to elevate their social positions.
2) Not all Asian Christians are Asian House Negros.
3) Conversely, not all Asian House Negros are Christians.
4) Lastly, "House Negro(s)" aren't necessarily black.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically in the Oakland/East Bay.  Not only was there a significant Asian population, but there were a lot of different churches serving the Asian communities in various capacity.  What I've witness and experienced this past 20 years in a church setting had factored in my decision to radically change my theological paradigm during the past 3 years.

Some highlights (or low) regarding race-relations within the Church:

While training in the L.A. area during the summer of 1999, I attended a singles event sponsored by a prominent Asian American church in Rosemead.  The keynote speaker was a doctor in psychology whose topic was "Christian Mental Health Professional Take on Inter-Racial Dating and Relationships."  The newlywed PsyD speaker raged on how it was "God's will" and "God's gift" that she married a caucasian and how disastrous the attempted courtship by a person of her shared ethnic background was prior to her marriage.  Upon further discussion in the group, the dialogue evolved into why the majority of the women present were not interested in dating Asian men.

I chimed in.  (whoops)

I shared with the group my dismay that the discussion is about inter-racial dating, yet only two specific ethnic groups were singled out in the discussion.  When asked (prodded actually) if I had dated other races, I replied "yes."  When prodded even further of whether or not "the other races" weren't caucasian, I again answered, "yes."  Finally, one of the women asked me, "don't tell me you actually went out with someone black???"  Again, I answered "yes."  The three women who were sharing the same table as me moved to different tables.  As they moved, overheard was "wow, THAT desperate."

Mind you, this was a church sponsored event.

In 2001, I attended a mixer for "Christian artists."  The host was a member of one of the largest churches in San Francisco.  In fact, any young adult who attended church in San Francisco would've at some point attended this popular church in The Mission.  As we were getting acquainted, we learned that we knew a mutual person and confirmed his whereabouts.  "Yeah, he went to Vietnam," he told me.  "Oh, for some reason, my other friend said he was traveling to the Philippines," I replied.  "Ahh, Vietnam, Philippines, all those people are the same," he snapped.  I told him that comment was offensive and demanded an apology.  He pointed out to me that he was the host and I was at his house.  Later on, the young lady he was apparently dating whom he met at his church asked me to leave.  Yep, she was Asian.

Needless to say, I wasn't part of that art group.

One of the first churches I attended was in Oakland prior to their move to San Leandro.  I was in the 3rd and 4th grade while attending there.  (Late 1970s) Eventually, they felt that the children needed a better education so they started their own church-sponsored private school.

It was during one of their event that I "accepted Christ," so it was expected that I would be a prime candidate to be one of their first batch of students.  My mother was adamant that I continue to attend my regular school and not theirs.  It would be years later before I learned of the reason why.  Actually I would learn of her distaste for that specific church after her death in 2005. (more later)

What made this church stand out amongst all the churches serving the Chinese community was the fact that 1) they ran their own private school, 2) their pastor was NOT Chinese, and 3) their size and the fact they were not located in the immediate Oakland Chinatown area.  Once they grew out of their Oakland location, they expanded at their new location.

In the mid-1990s it came to light that the pastor of the church profiled specific female students at their private school and arranged for "special pastoral counseling" with them.  He made sure that the students' parents' first language wasn't English.  He made sure there was turmoil in the home.  He targeted female students with "disciplinary issues" at the school.

In spite of the fact that some of the students came forward, no a single peep from the press and/or local media, and worse, no charges were filed against the pastor.

Remember what I said about culture of adapting to challenging situation without resistance?  That's basically what happened.  The church was too big and too central to the community, so things were kept hushed hush.

As bad as it was, the aftermath was just as bad.

The replacement pastor was Chinese.  A group who felt that they would be "better shepherded" by someone "more Godly," (ie, caucasian) eventually split from the church to form their own church, and found their "more appropriate pastor."

You think this was some sort of a church soap opera.  But it's apparently just a typical day in da 510.

Oh so let's go back to "Mom..."

After my mother passed away in the Summer of 2005, my sister and I cleared out her personal belongings.  She kept intricate records of every family activities.  My sister was part of a drum corps in Oakland while I was growing up, and my mother was one of the parent directors of the group.  Part of her responsibilities was to contact all community groups in the immediate Oakland area.  That included the aforementioned church.  For some reason, she kept a reply from THAT PASTOR addressed to her.  In it, he scolded my mother for "being inconsiderate" to invite them to an event held on Sunday, and he "respectfully requested," that my mother should "cease leading his followers astray," and finally to "show more respect to God and Sundays."

So Pastor, I formally apologize that my mother's action of inviting your members to a drum corps sponsored event held on a Sunday had led you astray to the point that you lost self control and took advantage of several underage female students who were placed under your watch.  Be thankful that you created enough Asian House Negros to cover for your transgressions, and especially that committed group of AHN who was dedicated to continue the insanity by splitting from your so-called legacy.  I know you've transitioned and be thankful that I'm currently slowly but surely unlearning the concepts of Hell and Damnation because if there was anyone I felt should go there, it'd be you.

Along with the House Negroes of the World who sold the souls of their respected communities out.