Loving the Chinese (and other Internationals) Among Us
Guest Authored by a family who lived in China
President Franklin D. Roosevelt is famous for saying, in his 1933 inaugural address, “let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Those words ring true today, for many of us, as we watch the slowly approaching tsunami of the corona virus pandemic. But for some people among us, including some in our own church family, the words ring hollow. There is more to fear than fear itself. Fear can bring out the best in us; it is an opportunity for heroes to be revealed. It can also bring out the worst.
The United States is no stranger to racial prejudice, and the grim “history” of racism towards Asian Americans is nothing new. I put “history” in quotes to counter the sense that “history” is something that happened in the past. There is both hard and soft evidence to point to the fact that, with the outbreak of the corona virus, an increase in animosity towards people who are “Asian” in appearance has increased significantly. Here are just two examples:
“A guy came behind me, called out “hey” as I turned around, he started spraying me with Lysol and calling me all sorts of names.”
“Overheard in public restroom ‘Thank God no Chinese children were at soccer practice to infect others.’”
How can we love and support our Chinese brothers and sisters, other Asians, and internationals more generally, especially in this fearful time? Here are 5 simple steps to loving our Chinese and international neighbors.
1. Check our own prejudices
The first thing we should do is check for our own prejudices. They are there, if you just take the time and effort to examine yourself. We may not be the guy assaulting someone with Lysol, but we are much more likely to be the person in the public restroom. Even if we keep our thoughts to ourselves, they come out in subtle ways without our voices. You don’t even have to be White to have prejudices. And it doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived overseas and think you’re all “broad-minded,” those prejudices come roaring back as soon as they find a reason to.
2. Treat everyone well
Consciously treat everyone well. Note, I did not say, treat everyone the same. God call us to something higher than “equality;” he calls us to love. This is demanding, and is nothing short of sacrificial (see Philippians 2 and Romans 5:8).
3. Don’t get wrapped up in politics and media
Don’t let political winds and media trends guide your thinking and perceptions. When political leaders persist in using terms like, “Chinese virus” instead of corona virus, don’t justify it or excuse it. And certainly don’t imitate it. (see #1)
4. Reach out
It wouldn’t hurt for you to reach out to any Chinese or other international you know to affirm your love and solidarity with them. If you have their phone number, Wechat, WhatsApp, or (gasp) postal address, just drop them a little note to let them know you love and support them. Call and genuinely ask how they are doing? Acknowledge that people can be nasty, and ask them if they’ve faced any situations like the two mentioned above. If they say yes, apologize on behalf of all Americans. Tell them you’re sorry they were treated that way, and that it was wrong.
5. Make them feel at home
Lastly, my chosen title is suggestive. Obviously, in a sense, Chinese and other internationals are not “us”. They carry a different passport, so they are not American. That much is true. But they are also one of us, in a broad sense as humans created in God’s image, and in a more narrow sense for some of them, washed in the precious blood of the Lamb, adopted as a Child of our Heavenly Father. They undoubtedly already feel their “outsiderness,” and it rests completely on our shoulders to make them feel at home (see #2).
In conclusion, we can reach every neighbor and every nation right here in our own community. God has uniquely brought the world to us. Let’s find unique and creative ways to love internationals in our community.