we the people, the Asian Americans
Asian Americans number right around 15 million in the United States right now. And it’s a very diverse bunch, with people from many ethnicities and heritages from many Asian nations. (cf. 2008 Statistical Portrait of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Other Pacific Islanders from UCLA and U.S. Census)
Some things that keep us apart: (extended) family history, focus on differences rather than commonalities, no common national media to connect us. I think advertising don’t work with Asian Americans because of diversity fragmentation, except for those with big budgets to target each and every ethnicity.
2 upcoming events I just found out about, and then a few personal thoughts:
- Korean American Christian Media (KAC Media) bills itself as “the very first multi-media organization that focuses on the needs of the 1.5/2nd generation Korean-American Christians.” This promo video explains what they’re about. I got to meet them at #churchtechcamp, interviewing participants. KAC Media was also featured in the Korean Daily Newspaper (since I don’t read Korean, I looked up Google Translate’s version and some things are lost in translation). KAC Media is holding their 1st fundraising banquet on November 8th, and tickets are tax-deductible AND includes a full Korean Buffet. [cf. slides of KAC Media press kit]
- The Consortium on Asian American Mental Health Training presents a one-day conference on “Spirituality and Mental Health: Compatibility & Conflicts“, Friday, October 17th in Long Beach. CEU credits available. See this PDF for details. // Fascinating topic and very much needed. I’d love to go, but it’s a schedule conflict for me. I wish they’d record the sessions.
Aside: For 10 years or so, I’ve been trying to join in an open conversation– on mailing lists (like CAC), discussion boards, and in the open internet via blogs– about issues related to Asian American Christians. I’m that open source kind of guy, and freely share the wealth of knowledge and information, and much less concerned about copyrights or monetizing. In those years, I’ve found few conversation partners, though I have found a few. The numbers tell us there are many Asian Americans Christians. About 4,500 Korean churches and 1,000 Chinese churches dot the land, even if most of them are intergenerational ethnic Asian churches, at least 100 have English ministries. Plus, there’s bunches of college campus ministries, like InterVarsity, AACF, Epic Movement, and mentions in articles like “Young, Asian American, and Christian” and papers like “Asian Americans for Jesus: Changing the Face of Campus Evangelicalism“.
A huge gap glares between the numbers and the proportionally few voices online. I’d think there would be more talk from Asian Americans about working out the implications of their Christian faith, at the very least their stories of their faith journey and the redeemed saying so. This gap means the online voices are dominated by the shrill and angry, the anti-Christian and anti-faith, alls the while the mainstream media perpetuates antiquated stereotypes.
A few months ago, I talked about this discrepancy with a 2nd gen Asian American English ministry pastor. “What’s up with that?” I asked. He goes on to explain how being a pastor in an Asian context, he has to “save face” and be careful (i.e. filtered) with what he says, to uphold certain expectations (even if ill-conceived). He adds that for Asians to speak up in public (i.e. online) would open themselves to misunderstanding, and how it’s very difficult to speak without knowing who the audience is, and it’s weird to talk to strangers, and how Asians don’t want to speak in any manner that would reflect poorly on their kins, and some other lines of reasoning.
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