[EDIT: NTSB has fired the intern who confirmed the fake names to KTVU.]

Much of the Asian American community was outraged by the fake Asiana pilot names that somehow made it to a local news broadcast in the Bay Area. They were made up to (1) make light of a tragic situation and (2) poke fun at Asian names.

I felt saddened, but oddly calm in the midst of this. Perhaps I’ve seen it too much and it doesn’t bother me as much anymore.

Here are 3 thoughts in connection with this fiasco:

  1. Forgiveness.
    There needs to be forgiveness from the part of the Asian American community for the hurt and outrage. Yes, there definitely needs to be education for the ignorant. But I hardly think we can chalk this one up to ignorance. Whoever thought up these names thought they were funny, and I’d be shocked if he/she didn’t realize they’d be offensive to Asians. Remember, there really is no excusing this act. But forgiveness would build bridges and continue open dialog rather than cause more division.
    Perhaps the Asian American churchgoers need to lead the way in this. Will we express compassion and turn the other cheek?
  2. Patience.
    There’s a lot of this out there.  This one happened to make the news. From early childhood we Asian Americans have heard the “ching chong” and “flied lice” jokes. Some of us respond in anger, some with sadness and withdrawal.  We need patience. The culture is not going to change overnight. I talk to older Asian Americans and they tell me the kind of institutional racism they had to face: from Exclusion Act to internment camps. It took centuries for the African American community to help us see that the “N” word is a slur. We need patience.
  3. Changing people’s hearts.
    We need to deal with what’s inside people’s hearts rather than the words that come out of their mouths. Behavior adjustment really won’t bring lasting change. We need to patiently explain why “Sum Ting Wong” is offensive to us. If we do, perhaps we win someone over instead of being labeled as too sensitive or too angry.
    Jesus was never in the business of changing behavior, but he changes people’s hearts. Let’s take a lesson from him.

I’m still glad to be an American.

What kind of taunts or pokes at your race have you experienced? How did you respond?