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Why I Wrote Invisible
Since the publication of my book Invisible, I have been invited to speak on it in numerous universities, seminaries, churches, communities, and podcasts all over North America. I feel so honored to share my book as it was always my hope that Invisible will become a lens for other marginalized and oppressed people and communities to see themselves and make sense of the world.
May is AAPI Heritage Month and it is important to recognize AAPI contributions to American society, culture, sports, science and even theology. There are many Asian American theologians who are struggling to understand their context and try to overcome racism, xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization. For many of us, it is a daily struggle.
We fight racism in our communities, neighborhoods and churches. It oftentimes overwhelms us and causes enormous pain and agony. For Koreans, we call this unjust suffering “han”. Han is an experience of the piercing of the heart and can damage us physically, mentally and spiritually. Therefore, it is important to work towards eliminating han so we can live flourishing and liberating lives.
Below is an excerpt from my post for the Baptist News Global, “Why I wrote a book about Asian Americans being invisible.”
Asian Americans have been labeled as “perpetual foreigners.” It doesn’t matter if our great grandparents were born in America, our features are still Asian, and we look different from the dominant white society, and therefore we are categorized as foreigners. A white European could have immigrated last month, but they are welcomed as an American while Asian Americans are not accepted as Americans.
We are often asked, “Where are you from?” which implies that we are “not from here” and therefore cannot be American. This leads to continuous marginalization and oppression, which results in racialized comments like, “Go back home!” and in hate crimes against Asian Americans who are considered “the other.”
Asian Americans were first labeled as the “model minority” by white sociologist William Peterson in his Jan. 9, 1966, New York Times Magazine article about the success of Japanese Americans in comparison to other minority groups. This model minority myth has had devastating effect on communities of color. Asian Americans are viewed as model minorities against other people of color, which ends up building tension among people of color and pits Asian Americans against other people of color.
Furthermore, this term minimizes and trivializes our ongoing experiences of racism. White society continues to tell us our experiences of racism is not racism as we are “model minority” or “honorific whites.” These two terms have been used by white society to perpetuate racism and discrimination against Asian Americans without taking responsibility or personal burden to eradicate systemic racism in the dominant white society. Our experiences of racism are diminished or made invisible.
During this AAPI Heritage Month, read more books by AAPI authors (such as Anti-Asian Racism) and celebrate the many contributions that we have been making in society, community and the church. Fortress Press is offering 30%* off select titles, including Invisible, with code AAHM23 now through May 31.
2.Please order Robert Ellsberg's 3 books, A Living Gospel, On Pilgrimage: Sixties and On Pilgrimage: Seventies with discount code "MAD" to get 30% off. Please watch his wonderful Madang Podcast interview here.