A public apology to our Asian American brothers and sisters
Friday March 02nd 2007, 8:18 pm
Filed under: church, youth specialties, books

we at youth specialties really screwed up. big time. i’m ashamed and embarrassed and horrified (and fairly angry, also), and i personally beg the forgiveness of our asian american christian brothers and sisters. i write as an individual christ-follower with responsibility for the systems in our organization which allowed for this offense; and i write as a spokesperson for youth specialties, apologizing on behalf of the whole organization.

in the fall of 2006, we published a book called “skits that teach.” the book contained a skit with a “chinese delivery man” character whose characterization – and, particularly, whose phonetically-spelled accent – was horribly, inexcusably, and unquestionably racist. that this content would appear in a youth specialties book has kept myself and others at ys sleepless this week – not only in our efforts to correct the problem, but in our sorrow over our addition to the prejudice perpetrated against asian americans. if there is ANY place we should expect an exception to the cultural norms on this kind of prejudice, it should be in the church. this kind of racism (intentional or not – that is not at issue here) goes against everything we believe here at ys.

while there was no intention of racism on our part, i do believe this blunder has exposed some systematic issues we must face. what I mean is this: if the character in the skit had been an african american, with similar racial characterization and phonetically-spelled accent, it would not – i believe – have slipped through the administrative cracks in our development process. but, somehow, the characterization that did get printed didn’t register high-enough on the radars of the people who saw it. this, while we might not want to admit it, reveals a systematic racism. and it’s one that I am committed to addressing, in myself (first), and in our organization.

here are the steps we have taken, and will be taking, as it pertains to the “skits that teach” book.

actions already taken:

- the day this issue was brought to the attention of jay howver (our publisher, who was also not aware of the content until that moment), we froze the remaining stock of 1700 copies in the warehouse of zondervan.

- within a day or two, a new version of the pages containing that skit had been edited and designed, and a new edition of the book is already at the printer. the new version should be in stock by mid-march.

- i entered into dialogue with dr. soong-chan rah, a pastor, professor at north park college, and the person who brought this issue to my attention (at about the same time as i was learning about it from within our organization). after several emails, dr. rah and i schedule a phone call for this morning (friday). i wanted to wait to chat with dr. rah before posting this apology, as i wanted to make sure i wasn’t assuming what all the issues were. i wanted to learn more about the background (various christian publishing and ministry issues that have occurred in the last few years). this, to say the least, has been a very educational week for me!

action to be taken in the next week:

- we will link to this public apology in our weekly email next wednesday (which is distributed to approximately 30,000 youth workers).

- we will link to this apology from the front page of our website for a period of time.

- i will personally receive any phone call from an asian american ministry leader who would like to talk, yell, complain, or ask questions. my number at ys is: (619) 440-2333. my email is: (that goes directly to me, not to someone who screens my emails – you will receive a response directly from me).

- we will destroy the 1700 copies of the book currently “frozen” in the zondervan warehouse. normally, the stock of a discontinued or out-of-print book is sold off as “remainders” at a highly discounted price, to book liquidators. we want to be sure that not one more copy of the original version of this book sees the light of day.

- we will gladly offer a free copy of the new version of the book to anyone who has the original version. if you have the original version, simply tear out that skit (pages 13 – 16), and send it to youth specialties (300 s. pierce st., el cajon, ca 92020, ATTN: mindi godfrey). be sure to include your shipping address. we’ll send an entire replacement book at no charge to you.

- while there is no way for us to do an actual “recall” of the products that are already in christian bookstores, zondervan will certainly accept returns of that book (as they would of any book).

- our CORE manager (the CORE is our one day training seminar, which takes place in 100 cities over the next few months) just told me she’ll contact all the hosts for this weekend (about 8 or 10) and have them pull all the copies of this book from the sales tables.

i would also like to be clear that zondervan, our parent company, had nothing to do with this mess. they are not involved in our editorial process in a way that anyone at zondervan would have had an opportunity to raise a flag on this.

personally, i look forward to a few things:

- i look forward to the good i believe god can bring from this. i don’t pretend to know what that will look like; but my faith is built on a hope that god loves turning our sin and mess into beauty and restoration.

- i look forward to further interactions with asian american church leaders I have met through this painful process. i welcome your further input. all of us at ys welcome your input.

- i look forward to continuing my learning about the unique prejudices tolerated in our culture against asian americans. i asked dr. rah for a couple book suggestions that would further my understanding, and have already ordered the two he suggested.

a handful of comments and updates:

– first, i want to express my deep gratitude for the wonderful expressions of forgiveness in the comments below, as well as the emails i’ve received. it’s been meaningful in a way that goes beyond my ability to formulate it into words.

– i continue to be blown away and saddened by my ignorance, and our collective cultural ignorance, about prejudice toward asian americans. while i instantly saw the character in the skit as something i was embarassed by, and didn’t want in a ys product, i have still had my eyes seriously opened this week as i’ve read blog after blog and comment upon comment expressing the hurts and prejudices perpetrated against asian americans. my parents — two of the most godly people i know — and i were email-chatting about this in the last couple days. they have spent their lives in missions, particularly to and with asian cultures. we grew up with asians and asian americans in our home constantly, with asian pieces of art on the walls, with a dad who few to asian countries long before people traveled by air as they do these days. in other words, i would like to think me and my parents had a heightened awareness of asian american issues, and a deeper experience base of real and valued relationships with asian americans. but my parents expressed that they sobbed when they read this public apology; and one of the reasons was because their eyes were being opened to the depth of the pain and hurt we all have caused (and how unaware we have been). i am “soaking in this” now, trying to listen to god as to what he would have me do.

– i had a twinge of “OH NO!” today, in response to a gracious email from an asian american pastor’s wife, who mentioned something about the non-church leaders who are impacted by prejudice and caricature (most of my thinking has been of church leaders, since that’s who we deal with predominantly, here at youth specialties). what hit me was a vision of an asian american kid sitting in a youth group somewhere, in a mostly white church, where this skit was being performed. i know i can’t feel the depth of what that would be like: but i think, in that moment, god gave me an emotional-taste of that sense. i began weeping instantly. in that light: please, if you are a youth worker who has purchased this book from us, please do not use that skit whether you have asian american kids in your group or not. please send it back or tear it out. argh. i know “that kid” isn’t just a metaphor, or a symbol. that kid is a real kid who will be dying inside, and, likely, seeing laughing faces looking to him (or her) for justification that “this is ok, right?”

– a word about the editor and the authors. several have asked me, in the comments below and in private emails, to address them. these requests have come with a variety of tone — from those who seem ready to lynch the editor and authors, to those who are just curious. first, let me say this: i have intentionally NOT been naming them for a couple reasons:
first, i know these three guys (the one editor and two authors). and i know their hearts. i know they are good and godly guys who had no evil intent. i know they are sickened (really, physically) by the pain they have caused.
second, and more important to me, is that i believe (and felt conviction from god this week) that naming them is passing the buck. in other words, i felt that naming them in any context was setting them up as scapegoats, and positioning ys as “not completely responsible.” and i don’t believe that to be true. whatever person or persons were involved in this, we (ys, the organization) have to take full responsibility for it. it would be a coward’s move to do otherwise, and would — i believe — draw attention away from the real issue, the ignorance we (caucasians) all have when it comes to asian americans.

– that said, i do want to specifically mention the skit guys, now, at their request. they have posted an apology on their site: please read it here. i realize that many will think their apology is too late. i would humbly and gently push back on that, for a few reasons:
first, i know the journey these guys went on in the past couple weeks. my journey, from horror laden with defensiveness, to a simple and pure desire for forgiveness and growth, could only have been greater for them. and, as i said above, i know these guys and i know their hearts. yes, what they wrote was stupid and clearly showed the ignorance that i, myself (and, as i’m coming to see, most caucasian americans) share, when it comes to asian americans.
second, they needed to process their understanding. people were frustrated with me, also, that i didn’t respond publically more quickly. but i was convinced that i needed to spend some time on the phone with dr. rah first, so that my response was truly from a place of understanding, not just more uninformed presumption. i think the same has been true for tommy and eddie.
third, i would ask that you make the choice to trust the honesty and sincerity of their apology. you may be tempted to discredit their apology for one reason or another. i’m telling you it’s sincere.

– one final thing for now: a few have asked me to share what books dr. rah recommended. you bet! i asked him for one that would help me understand these issues in a broader cultural context, and one that would help me understand them better in a ministry context. for the former, he recommended , by Frank Wu; and for the latter, he recommended , by emerson and smith (this latter book isn’t specific to asian american issues, but pertains to race and the american church).

154 Comments so far
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Thank you Mark for your actions on this matter. It reflects a tremendous humility to take correction and to act accordingly. The publication of this book was a significant sin committed in the public arena, but YS’ actions are a significant and important act of public confession and repentance. Thanks for your personal concern and effort.

Soong-Chan Rah
Milton B. Engebretson Assistant Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism
North Park Theolgoical Seminary
Chicago, IL

Comment by Soong-Chan Rah 03.02.07 @ 9:17 pm

My respect for you has enlarged even more with your apology. I am not Asian, but I am Jewish and a follower of Jesus, and I have felt, seen and heard anti-semitic comments in the church since I came to Christ as a late teen. It hurts, as I am sur it hurt some Asian Americans. I am proud of you for catching this and speaking to it and apologizing. You are very teachable and I appreciate you for being honest and humble.


David Olshine
Director of Youth Ministries
Columbia Inter. University

Comment by David Olshine 03.02.07 @ 9:22 pm

i can only speak for myself, but i am glad to read your post today. i was shocked, angry, hurt and disappointed when i read the offensive skit in that book. it was hard for me to believe that youth specialties could have released something like this. as a youth pastor for the past ten years, i have come to know (and trust) the integrity and usefulness of ys releases.

more than just your apology (for which i am also thankful), i am encouraged to hear about your recognition of some of the larger, systemic issues going on here.

as God’s people, we are all responsible for working toward justice and reconciliation. i commend you for taking personal responsibility and working towards a broader reconciliation. as a member of the asian-american christian community i want not only to point out the wrong that has occurred, but to work together toward understanding.

in the end, i believe these are issues that affect all of us as followers of Jesus — asian-american or otherwise. hopefully, we can continue to move forward. though the path is difficult, and fraught with the dangers of miscommunication & misunderstanding, it is worth it to build up God’s kingdom in all of its beautiful diversity.

Comment by daniel so 03.02.07 @ 9:29 pm

Marko- If only more churches and organizations were willing to step up and admit when they screwed up. You and Youth Specialties screwed up. Way to fix it in a way that shows integrity, humility, honesty and guts. I’m praying that this goes a long ways to grow everyone.

Some of my best parent meetings ever were ones in which we were discussing things which had gone wrong. It is usually during the broken times that we are able to go deeper to the root causes.


Comment by Lars Rood 03.02.07 @ 9:33 pm

Marko -

As I sat in my office today refreshing your page every hour or so, I recall my sense of entitlement coming to the fore wanting another gem of your wisdom or sense of humor. Perhaps for a short instant, I thought maybe you had taken Friday off and said a quick word of praise for your fortunes, but I wouldn’t count on it.

I am so sorry that this happened to YS. I am so sorry, because I would have missed the exact same thing. I am so sorry for my selfishness, that while you were enduring this day, I was taking it easy wondering where my “marko” dose was.

But I praise God (and you in appropriate proportions) for the awareness and healing that will come from this mistake and your subsequent apology and actions. Thank you for being a great example for us to follow, both in success and in failure. I hope those of us who look up to you are wise enough to pay attention and learn from this.

Comment by Jeff Moulton 03.02.07 @ 10:09 pm

thanks for the post and your sincere apologies. like others before me and after me, i believe that your posture will go a long way towards a journey we all need to face - both our systemic and personal prejudices.

there are couple additonal things i’d like to suggest (at least for thought):

1. an encouragement to the authors of ’skits that teach’ for a pubic apology as well.
2. an opportunity for asian-american participants at the next national YS pastors’ convention to meet with some of the YS leaders/board to be able to discuss, chat, and pray. i think your particpation would be critical in that meeting. in addition, i’d love for the authors of skis that teach to be there - not to elevate tension but to live out and demonstrate the process of learning and reconciliation.

we met a while ago and i’m sure you don’t remember; i barely remember as well but look forward to the crossing paths again.

peace to you.

eugene cho | http://eugenecho.wordpress.com

Comment by Eugene 03.02.07 @ 11:03 pm

It gives me hope, that you and YS have the integrity to issue this apology and to take action in the ways you have and will…

Peace to you.

Comment by natalie 03.02.07 @ 11:18 pm

[…] in the fall of 2006, we published a book called “skits that teach.” the book contained a skit with a “chinese delivery man” character whose characterization – and, particularly, whose phonetically-spelled accent – was horribly, inexcusably, and unquestionably racist. that this content would appear in a youth specialties book has kept myself and others at ys sleepless this week – not only in our efforts to correct the problem, but in our sorrow over our addition to the prejudice perpetrated against asian americans. if there is ANY place we should expect an exception to the cultural norms on this kind of prejudice, it should be in the church. this kind of racism (intentional or not – that is not at issue here) goes against everything we believe here at ys.  [click here to read the full apology] […]

Pingback by hope in learning and reconciliation « Beauty and Depravity | Eugene Cho’s Blog 03.02.07 @ 11:25 pm

wow! thanks for integrity in a situation that most of us would just hope would go away on it’s own.

it’s so easy to accept or overlook these “harmless little” prejudices in our lives when in fact they are just one more way we fool ourselves and harm and separate us from other Christians of all races and cultures.

thanks for sharing your apology with all of us and showing us another way to liveCHRIST!

Comment by tyhogue 03.03.07 @ 12:54 am

ps. maybe you should frame the pages in the ys offices as a reminder for all of how sin so easily entraps us and creeps in and how we can become blind to it if we are not always on our guard together.

Comment by tyhogue 03.03.07 @ 12:57 am

very cool. :D

Comment by Josh 03.03.07 @ 12:59 am


It was a pleasure speaking to you on the phone yesterday. Thank you so much for rectifying this matter publicly. Thank you for validating our feelings and seeking to understand our wounds. I appreciate our conversation and wish the best for YS as we co-labor to see God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. I pray that we might break those systems that you mention where racism exists at every level and in every arena of society.

Comment by David Park 03.03.07 @ 1:05 am

Mark, Thank you for your apology personally and on behalf of your organization. Your corrective actions are commendable, and I personally think your consideration of systemic issues demonstrates sincerity and due diligence, taking that extra step to remove underlying blind spots.

DJ Chuang
Executive Director
L2 Foundation www.L2Foundation.org
developing leadership and legacy for Asian Americans

Comment by djchuang 03.03.07 @ 1:07 am

[…] **EDIT** Mark Oestreicher of Youth Specialties has posted a public apology on his blog. You can read it here: https://ysmarko.com/?p=1379   […]

Pingback by Update « Step By Step: Daniel K. Eng 03.03.07 @ 1:30 am

Can I ask what action, if any, has been taken with the people who wrote and submitted the offensive material, and also, if any action has been taken with the person(s) responsible for editing the book?

Comment by Gordon 03.03.07 @ 5:10 am

[…] Public apology from Youth Specialties 3 03 2007 Mark Oestreicher, the president of Youth Specialties who published “Skits that Teach”, has issued a public apology on his blog which is linked to the main Youth Specialties website. […]

Pingback by Public apology from Youth Specialties « pointing people to Jesus 03.03.07 @ 9:47 am

I have to say I am blown away by the response … most would leave it at an apology; to destroy thousands of copies, do a new printing, and offer free replacement copies speaks volumes of your desire to go above and beyond to pursue healing. Most companies wouldn’t voluntarily go so far - I think that speaks volumes of YS’ heart for ministry and youth workers.

Comment by 03.03.07 @ 10:43 am

Thank you for setting an example of strong leadership - leading with love for your neighbor, a contrite and integrous heart, and humility.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

Comment by damien 03.03.07 @ 10:59 am

Only in america…

it’s a freakin’ sketch!

Comment by Danny 03.03.07 @ 11:33 am

Hi Mark,

I only got to your site through a friend’s site. I’m glad you made these changes.

I am an Asian-American that grew up in B’ham, AL. For the longest time, one of my white female friends told me how great and awesome her church was - the people in her church. Growing up with blatant racism everywhere I turned, not being able to even walk down the hallways of my school without hearing the word chink, after years, I finally gathered enough courage to go with her. There was no blatant racism there, only silence. I was ignored as if I was a fly on the wall as if I was not good enough to fit into their body, their church, their “way of life”. Afterwards, my friend apologized profusely to me, because she saw a side of “her people” that she had never seen, because she had always been “one of them”. She scolded her peers many times, for she knew that would be the last time I would ever step foot into an all white church. Asian-American churches exist for a reason. Without them, those like me would be utterly lost and have no where to turn. The systematic racism against Asian-Americans comes all too naturally in our society. You have no idea what it is like. Even though I”m in Chicago, it’s still around us, but unless you are in our shoes, how can you experience it. When Pearl Harbor the movie came out, my brother went to school in Schaumburg, and there were students that muttered under their breath, “I hate those damn Japs that bombed Pearl Harbor”. It didn’t matter what ethnicity my brother was. When I went to AL to visit, I go to a pizza parlor, and I order a pizza, and I give my first name, and the lady asked me for my last, and before I can say anything, she says, “Is it . Lee”. I feel anger, I feel sad, because the only Asian person this person has any idea of is Bruce Lee and automatically that’s what she thinks my last name must be. I got to Woodfield Mall with my wife, and there are a group of highschool kids who shout out “Ching, chong, chung, chong”. Where did those highschool kids learn this from? Here in our “diverse” city we call Chicago, we think we have escaped from one hell to a better place, only to discover that this hurt and pain is everywhere. You have no idea what it is like not to be white, to live in our shoes, to be only half accepted in a country that values only 1 color.

Again, I want to stress, I applaud you for the steps you’ve taken. It’s more than what most people would have done. Perhaps there will come a time when all of God’s children can worship together.

Blake Ma

Comment by Blake Ma 03.03.07 @ 12:04 pm

I also feel it’s important to not only acknowledge the very couragous action by Youth Specialties to make a public apology, but to extend public forgiveness as well. I don’t speak on behalf of anyone else, but as someone who was personally deeply wounded by this material — I extend forgiveness to Youth Specialties.


Comment by Soong-Chan Rah 03.03.07 @ 12:41 pm

Mr. Oestreicher,
Thank you for the apology.
I can’t remember the last time a Christian public figure owned up to something with so much honesty and integrity. Your actions and words have more than just patched things up….I sense God’s kingdom is advancing through this, and you and Dr. Rah are going to lead the way. Exactly where this takes us, I don’t know, but I can’t think of two better men to champion the cause. This thing could have got downright ugly, but in the end cooler heads prevailed.

You have modeled integrity, humility, courage, and leadership. Many are now saying that because of your proven character through this trial, doors will open,and your sphere of influence will grow, Prayer of Jabez style. I, for one, certainly hope so.

I posted this comment on my blog to serve as a book-end to what is now thankfully a mere bump in the road along the way.
Thank you Marko, for showing us how “to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”


Comment by emergingtruth 03.03.07 @ 2:28 pm

Hey Bro, first i want to say that i have mad love and respect for you. I didn’t know of this until recently. I am deeply sorry for all that YOU had to endure and to state the obvious “GOD is going to bless you for this.” Unfortunately we face that all around us, you,me and every other human being dead or alive. I’m sorry that my Asian american brothers and sisters were the example of this but the lesson learned is not just for you, it’s for all of us asian americans included. I believe that this was an avenue that GOD used to wake up the many of us who struggle with racism. Everyone does and no one is exempt from it. GOD used you my friend to shed a little light to all of us and to this dark secret that we hold in our hearts of hate. LOVE conquers all. Thanks for being the messenger!

Comment by Steve Faiai 03.03.07 @ 3:09 pm

as someone on the outside looking in i say ‘thank you’. your example (again) here marko is one that i pray finds it’s way into churches and boards across the kingdom.

i believe that conflict is the bridge to community. if we run from it or shirk our responsibilities in the middle of it we can never find the health and healing we all long for.

you apology stands as a beacon on ‘how to’ and i am so moved to see the integrity and depth of soul you, and ys have brought to this interaction. yac is bustin’ his buttons right now!

Comment by bobbie 03.03.07 @ 3:34 pm

As someone who was also deeply wounded by your material, I appreciate your apology and I do extend forgiveness as well. I’m encouraged that you are willing to be vulnerable and admit wrongdoing, offering your sincere regrets. This has been a learning experience for me as well. My heart echoed with the cries of Blake Ma above and I am thankful that you are taking very positive steps to make things right. Thank you for me how to handle conflict graciously and admit shortcomings humbly.

Comment by Daniel K. Eng 03.03.07 @ 3:49 pm

[…] 2 Mar 2007 Healing begun… Posted by Daniel K. Eng under Christian Social Action , My Personal Walk  MarkOestreicher’s apology really gave me new hope. As someone who was very hurt by the content of “Skits that Teach”, I am encouraged that Mr. Oestreicher has publicly admitted fault and has humbly asked for apology. God has taught me through him how to live a transparent, teachable life. He handled this ugly situation with much grace and humility. I think we can all learn from him.   […]

Pingback by Healing begun… « Step By Step: Daniel K. Eng 03.03.07 @ 3:55 pm

I am in awe of your personal integrity and the organizational integrity of Y.S. It is inspiring and convicting to witness a true and honest moment from a fellow follower of Christ.

Comment by J.H. 03.03.07 @ 9:48 pm

Hello Mark,
Thanks for your sincere apology.
I am an Asian-American pastor. I was disgusted with the skit, but not so much for the stereo-typing of Asian Americans. I was disgusted more for the images, repeated, of “eat poo, while its still warm.” These type of images have no place in a church youth skit.
I, personally, think that some stereo-typing can be funny, and if the shoe fits, it fits (funny pronunciation, etc. I make fun of my own father and mother for their accents.).
However, what I hope YS will pay attention to is to have a balance of what is real, and what is edifying. Crass images of eating feces is neither, no matter the race behind the stereotype.

Comment by Ben Lin 03.03.07 @ 10:17 pm

[…] I am glad that there was a public apology that was issued by  Mark Oestreicher at his blog here. I appreciate his contrition and taking this very seriously. […]

Pingback by Oh boy…first Pat Robertson…now this… « Peter Ong’s Interesting Website 03.03.07 @ 11:52 pm

Dear Mark, it is with heavy heart that we sometimes have to work out these issues. It is part of the process of engaging and sometimes there are collisions. I think that as a broader and more long-term and directed issue is for us to come to terms with the prevailing environment of exclusion and omission of Asian Americans in the broader context that I hope you consider being a voice to some of these issues and how this has changed your perspective in publishing, ministry and kingdom vision. I appreciate your gesture and don’t want it to end with this episode but rather I invite you to be part of what has happened in the Asian American Christian community…I hope we can talk and learn more from this together…and collide well… and reconcile well…we need each other…more than we think.

Comment by Peter Ong 03.04.07 @ 12:04 am


I enjoyed YS stuff as a youth pastor and I don’t feel that YS meant any harm by this situation.

It is not in anyone’s best interest to be racist or be deliberately hateful towards any person, nor is it Christ-like. I am sad that so many people felt offended but I wonder if we in America are starting to get too sensitive about every little comment (or picture)when it comes to race, age, body type, economic background, religion, etc. Personally I think some people need to get some thick skin.

I know personally what it’s like in many ways to be teased, made fun of, or stereo-typed so I can feel at liberty to say such a thing. I had more Asian and black friends than white and while there were times that they endured hardships, they never whined about their mistreatment. And they never called themselves African-American, Mexican-American, or Asian American…we were just plain Americans.

What frustrates me is that we have more Christians get upset and voice their concern over a “cultural or racial mistake” than who will stand up for our Lord and Savior when His name is blasphemed or made to look like an idiot on shows such as South Park.

I regret that our brothers and sisters were offended and I hope not to sound callous or harsh…I just wish that we could turn our cheek sometimes and be unified as AMERICAN CHRISTIANS instead.

Comment by rolling disciple 03.04.07 @ 12:56 am


Thank you for surprising this cynic. Your acknowledgment of your sins and blindspots has caused me to evaluate mine as well. Thank you for your humility to take correction and to listen to our concerns

In response to “rolling disciple”, your comments only reinforce the glaring systemic racism that exists in the church today. This is not an issue of political correctness. This is an issue of treating your brothers and sisters in Christ with dignity and respect. I simply do not understand how we can possibly be “unified American Christians” as you put it when you keep slapping me the cheek and expect me to take it. Your logic makes no sense. Period.

Mark, if these are the typical youth pastors of America, God help us all.

Comment by Kenneth Liu 03.04.07 @ 3:59 am

Ben Lin … the skit wasn’t making reference to eating feces, it was referring to the pu pu platter. As a reader who has the book, it never occured to me that anyone could take it any other way … I was always under the impression that that is one of the most popular dishes. You changed the spelling in your quote from “pu” to “poo” which would completely change the meaning. Let’s not try to find even more things wrong or villify the writers/YS for made up accusations - if you’re going to quote something, please make sure you quote the spelling correctly, not change it to suit your accusation.

Comment by 03.04.07 @ 8:38 am

Hi Mark - because I know the goodness of your being, I can only imagine the pain you are in. I am thinking of you, but also of those that have been offended. So, you are taking actions for your company, but what do the rest of us do? Maybe a good time to think, what do I do or say that adds to racism? - what WILL I do or say that adds to racial harmony - what responsibility will I take? Love you Mark

Comment by Kathy Shearer 03.04.07 @ 12:05 pm

Thank you to each of my Asian American brothers who have poignantly expressed some of what you face on an all too regular basis. Thank you, Eugene, for your suggestion that conversation continue at the next YS pastors’ convention ’cause this isn’t ended and rooted out simply by a public apology and reissung of books. It IS systemic, and I’m glad that Marko so clearly called it that.

Marko, I truly am mystified that such an offensive skit could’ve made it past all your folks in publishing without it even raising a flag that maybe it’s offensive?? I do hope that your staff will engage in a series of conversations with people of color to become further aware of systemic racism and of white privilege.
I totally concur with you that had such a skit been directed at African Americans, it would never have seen the blot of publishers’ ink.

Several months ago you posted something about a “Chinese fire drill” and you wondered where the origin of the term came. Some of us answered. And nope, ‘rolling disciple,’ it’s not about developing a thicker skin. We root out injustice to one another, beginning with looking at ourselves and our institutions.

Marko, would you mind sharing the names of the books that Dr. Rah recommended?

Thank you for your heartfelt, beautifully communicated words of apology, Marko.

Comment by Oregonian 03.04.07 @ 1:28 pm

Rolling Disciple,

That’s great you and all of your friends grew up as Americans. Unfortunately, where I grew up I was Chinese and only ever that. It didn’t matter how well I spoke English, or that I was born in the US. I go home to AL and everywhere I go people ask me where I’m from as if waiting to hear some exotic location in “The Orient”. It’s my home, yet the people there do no think it is. It wasn’t until college that my identity became that of an Asian-American. I will never be just American. When your’re told from the day your born that you’re not only different but disgusting and should go back to China where they eat dogs, what do you expect?
If African-Americans had not “whined”, Asian-Americans would still be sitting in the back of the bus, we would be barred from universities all around the country, we would not be able to marry across race. Did you know their were still anti-miscegenation laws in the 60’s against white and chinese marriages?

When I was in the 6th grade, there was 1 black student in the grade, and he was called the “N” word. I thought all hell had broke lose. Teachers called parent conferences, they brought counselors in to talk to the kids, and it never happened again. Nobody cared what I was called or how I was treated. Why? Asian-Americans have not been vocal enough like the African-Americans. We’re told to be passive and just be the good “model minority”, and we’re told by people like you not to whine, because it will all go away. You need to open up your eyes, because things have not changed. Just 5 years ago, I pulled my brother out of the 10th grade in AL, because he got so much abuse, so much hate, he became so quiet, so reserved, afraid. It’s not a way to live, its not a way a human being should be treated. No human being. Yes, I am angry, but I have a right to be. No voice will silence mine.

When you are not the one being mistreated and abused, it’s easy to ignore. Have some compassion. All I hope is that one day my kids will be able to grow up in an environment where they can be happy and accepted for who they are as people.

Blake Ma

Comment by Blake Ma 03.04.07 @ 2:19 pm

I mean no disrespect to anyone and that was not my intention.

Kenneth Liu..I never said that we should not treat anyone with disrespect or do I condone racism. To imply that I am racist you cannot judge without knowing my heart.

In junior high and high school I got in many debates and some fights defending the rights of my Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, African, and even homosexual friends. I alienated myself from “white” friends that I knew since kindergarten because I value the lives of EVERYONE then and now! But the shoe can also fit the other foot.

I have American friends who have been in China and Korea and suffered the same mis-treatment that Chinese and Korean people face here. I think that is an eye-opening experience that everyone should see but it is no different here than from other countries or cultures. Plus, do I dare say that if we are to be TRULY honest, we all have some type of racial attitudes towards others or stereotypes we have laughed at or implied?

I regret that many people have to deal with the unfortunate circumstances like Blake Ma wrote about and it really does make me sad. I have been mistreated and abused and I have every right to be angry (and believe me I used to be) but I prayed to forgive my enemies and oppressors, and try to love them all that more (which at times I fail miserably). What I am saying is that sometimes we have to rise above the circumstances and remember that God is in control. We can talk about unity and a world of no racism but this side of heaven, because of our sin, that will never happen.

I suppose my main point was if Jesus could take the beatings, the hatred, the abuse, and the ridicule that He did for us and still forgive us - and if He is our model of the Christian faith - should we not try and do the same?

I have the right to call myself a Dutch-American and educate people that not all people from the Netherlands stick their fingers in dikes, speak funny, and wear wooden shoes but to me that is a waste of time and energy. Let people think what they will. My goal is to preach Christ crucified.

Please know my brothers and sisters that my goal was not to say brush racism, stereotypes, and culture bashing under a rug and just forget about it. I do think that there are some bigger battles we need to face that will deal with eternity than just dealing with the fleshly abuse we take here, right now.

I love you all and apologize if my comments seem wrongly said but they are meant with the right heart.

Comment by rolling disciple 03.04.07 @ 3:49 pm

I’m writing to stand up against what “rolling disciple” shared. This is directed toward him:

I am a white girl but grew up in an area where my race was the minority. For the first 16 years of my life I was made fun of and even beat up because I was white. I dreamed many, many times to be black, asian or hispanic, just to be something else where I didn’t have blonde hair and blue eyes.

Rolling disciple, I am not surprised at all that your friends never “whined” about their mistreatment to you because you wouldn’t have understood. When you don’t share in the pain, it’s hard for you to relate.

Thank God that people like Rosa Parks and MLK Jr. and so many others chose to “whine” about their misfortunes because segregation is not tolerated anymore. Thank God that people like the suffragettes rose up to let their “little” misfortunes be heard because now women can vote and we’ve even got a women running for President now.

Change does NOT come from staying silent and “turning the other cheek”. There is a time and place to do that but when racism and stereotyping is occuring, it doesn’t matter how many cheeks are turned, it will only get worse.

Remember about a “little” guy named Hitler? Think of how many cheeks were turned to his chaotic reign and how many suffered because of it. Even today, the holocaust is disputed because people like to turn their cheeks and brush problems under the rug.

You know how so much violence and sex and language made it onto primetime television? From people like you, turning the other cheek, just hoping it would all go away.

On your blog, you mentioned that you would never run to any [group] to have them protect you from people condemning Christianity. Let me tell you why you wouldn’t; because the “leader” is God. He protects His own group and His own people. We, as Christians, don’t need to have an agency with a human leader to protect us, the Creator of the universe can handle His own.

Oh and, “props” to you for having such thick skin. However, when cops start consistently pulling you over, you are followed around a store to make sure you don’t steal anything, people continually shut you out of friendships and conversations, your children are getting beat up and you are looked down on and talked/whispered about all because of your RACE, then let us know how “thick” your skin still is.

Comment by jen }i{ 03.04.07 @ 5:11 pm

I am sorry to hear about the material in the book. I don’t have the book and have actually never read through it. I am glad to hear the response you and the rest of the YS staff are taking (have taken) to stop this from being a further problem.

As has already been said, it is a big step not to just apologize, but to take the prints out of circulation and allow people to receive a new copy. Not to mention the open lines of communication you are wanting to have with anyone who wants to talk. Thanks for the integrity and humility to take these steps. You and the staff at YS are def. more concerned with people than money.

Comment by mike kupferer 03.04.07 @ 5:19 pm

Thanks for taking quick action on this: first as a Christian, in allowing God to soften your heart. Second as a publisher, in taking decisive measures to control the distribution of the skit.

Comment by Dan S 03.04.07 @ 5:44 pm


Thank you so much! If only others had done something like this with some unfortunate VBS material several years ago!

As someone who was teased because of my last name and my heritage…I am honestly not sure if I would have been surprised to see that skit in the book and if I did what would have registered in my mind.

Comment by Deneice Fujii 03.04.07 @ 7:08 pm

My name is Ben Pun, I’m a youth director at a Chinese church and am myself Chinese-American. I’m very discouraged by comments like Danny’s :”it’s a freakin sketch!” I hope that we can learn to try to things in other people’s perspective. As a Caucasian, you probably might think that, but as an Asian-American, I’m offended. But I have to turn the microscope back to me and say am I okay with making jokes about rednecks? I wonder, is it EVER okay to make jokes using racial stereostypes? I think the hard answer to that question is no.

Comment by Ben Pun 03.04.07 @ 7:38 pm


You are all class! Thank you forgoing all out to fix the problem….

I used your Dares from Jesus curriculum on a retreat this weekend and this morning we used the lesson on Love and your paraphrased version of the love chapter….

Your actions (on behalf of YS) truly brought that to life!

Comment by Bev 03.04.07 @ 8:56 pm

Mark -

Thanks for being a model of what it means to be a Christian.

Everyone who commented offering forgiveness -

Thanks for modeling what it means to “be Christ” to one another.

Comment by Cweber 03.04.07 @ 11:34 pm


One more thot about what IS tolerated against Asian Americans, but not African Americans. Do you think it would be ‘okay’ if we called them “African American Fire Drills” or “African American Auctions?” Nope, so it also shouldn’t be okay to call them “Chinese Fire Drills” or “Chinese Auctions” as these terms are
not meant to portray Chinese in a good light.

Hope you’ll post the books that Dr. Rah suggested when you have time.


Comment by Oregonian 03.05.07 @ 12:00 am

I hate blogs in some ways that you can’t always communicate your thoughts in the way it is intended to be. This will be the last I post on this issue.

Dear “Asian-Americans” and others, I understand the sensitivity of this issue and I do not mean that we should ignore the fact that you feel offended. I am sorry that you have had to experience hardships in different ways. There are many hurtful things that happen to us - because our ethnicity, economic background, or even looks. It is not right and it is a shame. However, life is not a fair deal and there are many groups who have been dealt a hard blow such as the Jewish people in the Holocaust; African people with slavery in America; the Native Americans for having their land stolen; the Chinese with forced labor in building railroads; we could go on and on. ALL of these instances were cruel, unjust, and plain heart-breaking!!!

No, we are not to just always sit back and take a blow. Thank God for Gandhi, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr. There are many people who have stood up for their rights and what they believe in and I agree we need to do that. But there are many great people who have endured more hardship than we could ever imagine who have forgiven their aggressors, who have chosen to rise above the injustice, and found bigger battles to enter than over a word or a picture.

Jen, how do you know what I have been through and experienced in my life? Do you know the abuse and insensitive comments that I received as a child and teenager? Did you experience the same harsh treatment I did because I stood up for every kid I could that was picked on because they were not white Caucasian? I was called a white gook, American VC, a traitor, an “N” lover, and many other things because I would not stand for this type of behavior going on. Believe me; I know what it’s like and you should not be quick to judge.

Do I know of a “little guy” named Hitler? As a matter of fact I do, in a very personal way. My mother and her family received the full effect of Hitler and the SS in occupied Holland during WW2. I can tell you the stories of how they watched their friends being skinned alive and hung from telephone polls for refusing to join the German Army, the Gestapo busting into their factory and shooting people for no reason, and how my grandfather risked his life for saving and evacuating Jews, American Paratroopers, and Queen Wilhelmina from Hitler’s henchmen. After the war they immigrated to America where foreigners weren’t treated fairly (like today) but they refused to let that affect their lives by learning English, working hard, and starting a successful business. If anyone had racism and circumstances to be bitter about it was them, but they forgave others and were thankful for being alive as well as their freedom in the United States.

As for truly knowing what it’s like to be a minority, I can only guess, but at times the typical white guy in America is treated like one. It’s almost non-existent for us to get grants, financial assistance, jobs we’re qualified for, health insurance for low cost or free, or many of the other benefits that others enjoy in this country (even those that come here illegally) - even though I served my country for the freedom you have to blog your thoughts. We all suffer in some ways but we can choose to let those situations control us or we can move above and beyond them. Some things are worth refusing to leave the bus for and others aren’t.

Great job YS on doing the right thing!

Comment by rolling disciple 03.05.07 @ 12:17 am

Thank you Marko for posting this!

I don’t feel the need to re-iterate everything that others have said, but speaking for myself, I believe that this apology is a fantastic step, and I believe, it is VERY meaningful to Christians of Asian American heritage who often feel marginalized in this country simply because of their race (yes, even in the Church).

May God bless you and YS for your willingness to do what is right and to mend the wounds that had been caused. I hope this is the beginning of a larger dialogue!

Comment by g 03.05.07 @ 12:41 am

[…] Comments on YS Marko 5 03 2007 I recently posted some comments on a situation that happened with Youth Specialties and which has sparked some very tough discussions. [read the article here] […]

Pingback by Comments on YS Marko « Rolling Disciple 03.05.07 @ 12:51 am

Rolling Disciple,

Those in the majority in this country, i.e., Caucasians, should not be the ones to dictate to people of color that they, in essence, should ‘get over it’ (not your words, but kinda how your words sound) and ‘rise above’ the injustices committed. It sounds a bit like, “C’mon pull yourselves up by your bootstraps.”

I think those of us who are white, outta shut up and LISTEN to the stories that our brothers and sisters tell who are living it, day by day. And when we’re tempted to spew, “Ah, c’mon, lots of people have it rough - get over it,” we outta shut up some more and listen again. and again. and again. If we do so, what we hear might actually penetrate into our hearts and cause us to work for change.

As far as being a trampled upon white male, I don’t buy it. You and I, by virture of being Caucasian in this society, benefit DAILY from an implied and oh-so-evident white privilege. We’re not whispered about when we enter a store and followed by salespeople ’cause we just might steal something. We’re not stopped by police just ’cause we’re driving a nice car and how on earth could a person pf color legitimately own one? Must be stolen. We didn’t have to wait until 1964 for Civil Rights legislation. We weren’t interred during WWII in THIS country AS citizens just ’cause of being Japanese. We haven’t had our eyes pulled down in a derogatory way. We’ve benefited for YEARS for an implied and existent preference to whites. So nope, my heart doesn’t bleed when white folks in this country say that THEY are the ones being treated like minorities.

Again, to Eugene and Blake and Peter and Kenneth and Ben and Daniel and David, thank you. I’m the mother of an Asian American child and I see the impact of racism upon her strong, tender heart. Things ain’t gonna change in this country for Asian Americans until WE in the church admit there is a problem, admit the systemic racism that exists and work together to root it out. In that vein, I’ve gotta thank you, Marko, for your actions.

Comment by Oregonian 03.05.07 @ 12:53 am


As an 11 year old girl, people tend to think that we don’t understand. But when my mom read your apology, I actually understood more than most people think, and what I understood hurt me and hurt me deeply.

And though you may apologize, the hurt stays, and whoever has read what that book wrote about Asians, it will stay with them, and while it stays with them, it prints an image of us. And the more they think of it, the worse they think of us, and the higher they think of themselves.

And even as we fight for ourselves, we are looked down upon, and we have to look up, and while we’re at the bottom of the tunnel and white people are on top, while we fight, we know that we won’t get to the top without your help.

And that’s why we would like people to reallly think of what they’re writing or what they’re doing, and to question if they’re hurting someone, whether intentional or not. We would like you to think of your brothers and sisters out there being treated so unfairly and looked down upon and almost brushed away like a piece of dust.

And when you wrote your apology, it helped us gain the hearts of people out there, and I, as an Asian am happy that someone decided to stick up for us.

“Oregonian’s” 11 year old Asian-American daughter who hopes that one day we’ll ALL be called Americans

(Her proud mom wanted you to know that she teared up quite a bit as she read Marko’s apology, rolling disciple’s words, and as she wrote her own)

Comment by Oregonian 03.05.07 @ 1:24 am


Comment by marko 03.05.07 @ 1:29 am

My 11 year old wrote a post which is listed above.
Unfortunately, MY comment at the end reads a
bit unclearly. What I meant to say was that my daughter
is the one who teared up as I read Marko’s post,
rolling disciple’s post, AND as she wrote her own.
She ‘gets’ the issues in ways that have truly opened
my own eyes.

Marko, I was deeply touched by your parents responses,
as well as your understanding of what it would mean to
be an Asian American kiddo sitting listening to such
a skit.


Comment by Oregonian 03.05.07 @ 2:37 am

My name is Thomas Wong, a Chinese Scottish Canadian and former church goer. I understand that forgiveness is a wonderful thing and that yes, no one should hold hatred in his heart. Having said that, this is ridiculous. Did not intend to be racist? So the horrible accent and the “pu pu” which is not a Chinese dish was meant as…the glorified word of our Lord and Saviour? What on earth other than disdain and mockery towards Asian people was this meant to inspire? The comparison towards African Americans was also fairly insipid - what point does any accent or any racial stereotype get across other than “these people are silly and worthy of our scorn.” I can’t read the segment and not be incensed, angered, and think of the race riots that happened in Vancouver 100 years ago. This is simply the stupidest, most ridiculous thing I have ever seen associated with the Christian Faith, and I include Christian rap. It doesn’t matter if I forgive you - this is a mistake that is unheard of in the secular world. How did followers of Jesus let it slip?

Comment by Thomas Wong 03.05.07 @ 5:12 am

Wow, an actual apology. I am impressed. In a time where most people go with the standard, “We’re sorry you didn’t understand our joke…” you actually said your sorry.

Thank you.

God Bless.

Comment by Jake Lang 03.05.07 @ 9:05 am

The comments from both the sketch artists and their supporters are perfect proof on how feelings about racism are still very much tolerated among Christians.

I was born into both an Asian American and Christian family. While every one of my family members continues to be a practicing Christian, I’ve left my beliefs behind; particular because of the existence of people like these that preaches both religion and racism simultaneously.

If every one of us are God’s children and racism is evil, isn’t that a contradiction? It’s funny how people can preach the message of love and hate at the same time.

As for me, I’m not inclined to believe in your “invisible sky wizard.”

Comment by Rob 03.05.07 @ 10:32 am

I must add that while I appreciate you talking about this issue and apologizing, rather than burying it; the apology that matters the most should be coming from the sketch racists, I mean, artists.

Comment by Rob 03.05.07 @ 10:42 am

Marko - Thanks for this public apology (and for your personal e-mail). Since I work in publishing, let me just affirm for everybody reading this just how significant YS/Zondervan’s actions are. Indeed, the easy way out would have been to just replace the offending skit in the next printing without taking action on existing inventory. The fact that they have frozen and destroying current inventory speaks volumes. Public offense requires public apology and action, and what Marko and YS have done is a remarkable model for the church of what reconciliation and justice should look like.

Comment by Al Hsu 03.05.07 @ 10:54 am

Rolling disciple, yes, Jesus showed us how to love our enemies, and He also showed us how to dig deeper to relate to one another in the small things too, be it feed the hungry, give a drink, hang out with sinners and the marginalized, show compassion, share the concerns of others. Hey, if something is important to you, then when I make it important to me too, it’s a great way to show my love for you.

As for misunderstood intentions in communicating via blogs, it’s not solely a shortcoming in blogs. I’ve been excruciatingly painfully misunderstood even while communicating face-to-face when I’m vulnerably bearing my heart and soul! This has happened not only in interracial contexts, this has happened to me in my own intergenerational Chinese contexts! Took me years to recover. Don’t blame blogging! :)

As for speaking up, some people are great at doing that. Others are great at taking action. To change something, it takes both words and action. Rosa Parks didn’t say a word, when she sat down in the forbidden section of the bus. But her actions spoke loudly and triggered a quiet revolution.

I’m personally touched to hear the handful of Asian American voices chime in here, it’s so hard for me to find Asians who are willing to put their names out in the open and to voice out. It’s so risky, it’s uncomfortable, words can be easily misunderstood, it’s hard to talk to people we don’t know. (This is a small glimpse into the Asian psyche that fits many of us.) A typical Asian communication style is far more nuanced, sophisticated, and often indirect. This affects many of the 2nd and 3rd generations, even those who might only speak English.

I want to believe that these recent corrective actions, apologies and forgiveness offered, is only the beginning. This is only the first chapter of many chapters yet to be written in a much needed on-going effort of intentional actions, humble words, and deeper relationships to truly manifest the Kingdom of God to redeem the racial history of America.

Comment by djchuang 03.05.07 @ 10:58 am

1. Thank you to Marko and the rest of the YS crew for modeling repentance.

2. Thank you to so many in the Asian American community who are modeling forgiveness and grace.

3. Thank you to Christ who allows all of us to call each other brothers and sisters even when we hurt each other in the name of Christ. I see no other community that allows accountability, forgiveness and healing to happen in such a powerful way (warts, hiccups and all).

My hope is that the spirit of the Skit Guys, Marko and YS is in no way paralyzed by this… sometimes when we have to face our own sin we can become completely disheartened. I hope that grace abounds for all and demonstrates the amazing redemption that Christ offers in exchange for our messes.

Thank you for living your lives so publicly.

Grace be to God.

Comment by Katie 03.05.07 @ 12:07 pm

My heart goes out to the 11 year old girl. Your words were more powerful than anything I could have expressed. You brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing.

I wrote about anti-miscegenation laws. In 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Loving v. Virginia that “Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. ”

At the time 16 states still had laws prohibiting interethnic marriage. It was not until the very last state, none other than Alabama, in the year 2000, were all the anti-miscegenation laws repealed. This was 33 years after the Supreme Court made their ruling.

That was 5 years after I graduated from highschool, less than 7 years ago. I know this topic isn’t about discussing interracial marriages, but it’s to bring to light that racism is still happening and abundant in our country. For those of you who need it more real than this, it was a special statewide election and 40% of Alabamians voted to keep the ban on interracial marriage. How many of those 40% of voters were Christians straight from the heart of the Bible Belt? That means 40% of the people who went to vote said No to black and white marriages and to asian and white marriages. That gives you an idea of how real racism is and how it still exists blatantly as well as systematically in our society and has been passed on from generation to generation. What I’m saying is, there are those people who think of racism as something in the past because they are privileged, but in reality, 1967 was not a long time ago, neither was the year 2000. Just because you do not have to see it, does not mean it’s less real for those of us who do.

Blake Ma

Comment by Blake Ma 03.05.07 @ 1:08 pm

Hi Marko,
On behalf of Filipino-Asian American, I extend forgiveness and receive your apology. Even though it was a Chinese characterization, Asians from our nations can and will symphatize with the stereotypes.
This move of a broken heart would bring healing to America’s festering wounds.
Your humility is worth imitating.
Archie Honrado

Comment by archie Honrado 03.05.07 @ 2:01 pm

To the 11 year old girl: Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing your heart. Your words and strength brought tears to my eyes.

Rolling Disciple, thank you for your reply and trying to clarify but you are still not getting it. I will try to make this short and simple: We’ve ALL gone through hardships, some more than others. I’ve been raped and molested and, yes, I’ve forgiven my perpetrators and have chosen to move on as best I can, HOWEVER, I would NEVER suggest to other victims that they should just ‘get over it’ or turn the other cheek. Everyone goes through different pain and we all heal differently. Telling people to just turn the other cheek to the pain they’re experiencing just shows insensitivity on your part.

Comment by jen }i{ 03.05.07 @ 2:37 pm

thanks marko and ys for your humility. you could have circled your wagons and got defensive (which is a natural reaction), but instead you showed courage and repentance. while i am not from the asian community, i still appreciate your heart and willingness to step up when mistakes happen.

Comment by joe troyer 03.06.07 @ 9:45 am

Thank you.

Comment by Daniel 03.06.07 @ 2:00 pm

I think those who wrote the sketch as well as those who were charged with editing the content in that book need to be held accountable. I understand falling on your sword as the leader, but if you weren’t personally responsible for the material then why were there no action steps including those involved? You don’t owe us an exhaustive treatment of your internal policies of employees, but some acknowledgement of this being part of the process would be a sign that you all are handling this appropriately.

To be frank, it is both racism and the self congratulatory immaturity and emotional arrested development of the few that continue to affect peoples perception of what it is we do as youth workers.

Comment by matt 03.06.07 @ 4:26 pm

I am glad you have taken responsibility for this. I dont know how many times I hava heard and seen things the church says that are blatantly racist and the people/church saying these things dont even think twice, I am glad to hear you thought twice! Also I am glad you made the statement that…”while there was no intention of racism on our part, i do believe this blunder has exposed some systematic issues we must face”. This points out the deep intrisic nature of racism that must be examined (along with classism, sexism, etc.). Im glad that you have taken these steps to ensure that nothing like this happens again. I love what you guys do and if you ever need anything I am here.
In Love,
Andre Favila
DYING TO LIVE Jr. High Ministries
Citrus Heights, Ca. Friends Church…HOLLLA!

Comment by Andre 03.06.07 @ 4:27 pm

I am grateful for the forgiveness on both sides of this difficult issue. After re-reading the skit, I think I understand the intent of the Skit Guys in the sense that they were going for humor to lighten up a very serious and sobering skit. A skit that I hope has just been re-edited and not removed completely. At the same time, I was kind of surprised at the stereotype portrayed in the skit and although I intended to one day use the skit, I planned on editing out the delivery man. As a Caucasian man, I cannot comprehend what our Asian brothers and sisters have gone through and I never will, but this incident does bring the issue to light and has sparked a very encouraging dialogue so that we can deal with the racist stereotypes we encounter every day. Thank you Marko, YS and the Skit Guys for being so transparent and so apologetic and thank you to our Asian brothers and sisters for bringing this issue to light.

Comment by Steve M 03.06.07 @ 5:55 pm

An Asian-American friend of mine recently recommended this book to me so that I can have a better understanding of her and other Asian-American women. I pass it on to Marko’s blog readers…

More Than Serving Tea
Asian American Women on Expectations, Relationships, Leadership and Faith
Edited by Nikki A. Toyama
and Tracey Gee Consulting Editor Jeanette Yep By Kathy Khang,
Christie Heller de Leon
and Asifa Dean


Comment by alisonjoyb 03.06.07 @ 8:24 pm

It is good to know that I am not the only one to step in the poop and I appreciate that you care deeply about helping kids not assume negative stereotypes. (A nice leather whip is in the mail in case you have need of deeper self-flagellation)
Here in Hawaii there are a ton of races all mixed together and as I think you know, I am married to an Asian gal and have what is called “hapa”kids.
The great irony here is that the most popular humor is racial humor. Portuguese jokes, chinese jokes, haole (white guy) jokes, Japanese jokes, etc. I have heard Pastors of HUGE churches bust up the house using racial tinged jokes and comments that would get you slammed anywhere else.
But…the one constant is that nobody who is Caucasian can make racial jokes or even repeat the racially tinged joke that an asian buddy just passed on.
Even after 20 years on the island I tread across this ice of irony with care. Local (non-white) people have a pass and consider these stereotypes harmless. In fact, they would probably jump at the chance to do the skit. The rest of us keep our mouths shut and stay away from racial stuff altogether.

Comment by Rick Bundschuh 03.06.07 @ 9:24 pm

I appreciate the action you are taking on this matter. It says a lot about your character and the character of your company.

Comment by Ben Kurz 03.07.07 @ 12:15 am

I am glad that people are willing to accept responsibilities for their actions. Too many times we would rather point the finger at someone else and I think it shows a lot of courage and humility to admit a problem.

I do not believe any harm was meant, but I do see why some would be offended. I cannot help, however, but ask myself the question, if it were a white person being made fun of (i.e. a backwoods person or someone like that) that this issue would not have been raised.
I am in no way condoning these actions, but agree with rolling disciple in that we need to be unified as Christians and in this country Christian Americans. Personally, I have many friends of other races but I do not view them as that. I view them as human beings, as friends.

Comment by Michael 03.07.07 @ 11:06 am


This shows the power of Christ to touch our hearts and make changes.

It makes me think of the number of people each of us have hurt unintentially through the years. This may be a good time for each of us to review our lives and make some calls or send some cards to “burn the books” in our past.


Comment by Paul Evans 03.07.07 @ 4:33 pm

Marko - your apology reached all the way here to Sydney, Australia and I don’t want to repeat everyone’s comment with which I agree wholeheartedly. You are one true and faithful Christian who is a role model to follow. We all need to rise up to that. God Bless.

Comment by John 03.07.07 @ 4:34 pm

Reading your apology and the comments is so refreshing, since I’ve battled feeling like an outsider/stranger in the American church since I became a follower of Jesus two decades ago. Thank you for facing the pain with me.

Comment by Mitali Perkins 03.07.07 @ 4:38 pm

I have been an asian (all my life:-), american for 32 years and employed at an american church for 13 years. Your words not only reflect your great nature and character but opens the eyes of us all. I have seen too often, good natured Christians lack sensitivity to all of God’s chirldren. I am #1 on the list of the guilty. Thank you for your heart. Your apology has brought many of us to our knees.

Comment by David Cho 03.07.07 @ 4:47 pm

Once again I am awed with the honesty and humility in which you and YS display. It is refreshing to come alongside fellow Jesus followers who are willing to be real and raw. I pray that you will receive forgiveness from us (youthworkers)in the same manner. It is not excusable but it is forgivable.

I have taken the pages out of my copy of the book and shredded them. I don’t need a new book, but I appreciate the offer and the commitment from YS to make it right.

Comment by Mary Schulze Michener 03.07.07 @ 4:49 pm

Good,honest,gusty move. I appreciate your heartfelt apology and your sincer, straightforward approach to it all.
As the adoptive father of an Asian American, I have had many conversations with my daughter about this issue through her eyes. There is much learning to be done–and your honest admission of that is refreshing.
May you be encouraged as you learn and grow. Thanks for modeling honest confession.
In Christ,

Comment by Tiger 03.07.07 @ 5:09 pm

in almost 14 years of youth ministry, I have heard the laments of people claiming immaturity from youth leaders, and their lack of ability in conflict resoulution. Marko, I’ve never met you, or anyone at YS for that matter, but you made a big statement in the way you have handled this situation. Your reaction reflects not only you and your ministry, but helps as an example to those of us who believe in you as a leader and distance mentor. Thanks for raising the bar. The action you have taken reflects positivly on youth ministry in general. Let’s face it, we all mess up. It is how we handle it that makes the difference.

Comment by Jamie 03.07.07 @ 5:11 pm

So I have one question for everyone…When will we stop holing ourselves up in our sactimonious, and homocentric steeples and preach about the reconcillation of Christ and ignore the seperation of our body?

Comment by Chris 03.07.07 @ 5:17 pm

As an Asian-american (my mother is Japanese), I was disappointed when I purchased that book for my youth and it was the first skit I read. We never used it. I’m not one to complain- my grandmother silently endured some very harsh racism after moving to America with my mother who was still a child in 1950, so I am not one to complain because this ignorance-based mistake is nowhere near as offensive as the Japanese concentration camps of the ’40s or the racism of that generation.

Comment by Jonathan 03.07.07 @ 6:05 pm

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” Romans 3:23-34

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Praise be to our God for sending his Son to die in our place and to forgive our sins! Thank you for reminding me of my need for the gospel of grace every single day! May we never lose sight of our redemption and redemption’s cost!

Comment by Lynn 03.07.07 @ 6:14 pm

Well, sorry, you just “screwed up” again. The mistake was not just again “asian americans” as you put it, but against all asians, and more broadly, all humanity. But, let’s face it, if we were perfect, Jesus would not have been crucified. Thank God for grace.Sincerely, David Nash

Comment by David 03.07.07 @ 6:21 pm

In an age of blaming everyone else, thank you for your forthrightness and speed dealing with a tough issue.
To God be the glory! Great things He continues to do!

Comment by Gordon Gathright 03.07.07 @ 6:54 pm

Mark O,

Thank you. You’ve taught us all a lesson here. Your humility, gracious response, and sincere desire to make things right has challenged me. It’s been sad to read the pain that my Asian brothers and sisters in Christ go through on a regular basis. I find myself asking what I can do to help bring healing, and am stricken to the core at how oblivious I was to the pain that is out there. Thanks for doing the right thing.

In Him,

Brian Schulenburg

Comment by Brian Schulenburg 03.07.07 @ 6:59 pm

Dear Marko,
We all make mistakes, but how we handle the mistakes when they are presented to us will determine our character and the integrity of the organization we represent. What one does see as prejudice is not prejudicial to others at least in the beginning. But how we handle our errors of prejudice helps determine our depth in understanding the mission for which the Christ called us. We all fall short of the glory of GOD, but what we do after our fall is brought before our eyes shows our true mettle.
May all who were offended be as forthcoming with their apologies as you and Youth Specialties have in yours when they have demonstrated their own brand of prejudice. I believe that YS seeks to be a class act for the cause of Christ each and every day. Please continue to explore the directions of presenting Christ without sacrificing the integrity of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Your brother in Christ, Gary Tubb

Comment by gary tubb 03.07.07 @ 7:00 pm


Christians everywhere “should” come together and be unified. That skit divided us by race, made Asian-Americans feel inferior to our white counterparts as many of us have been made to feel at some point or another or most of our lives. Mark’s apology took a step towards unifying all Christians. Thank You.

You’re right, if it had been a skit about a backwards white person, you probably wouldn’t have complained. That’s the privilege of living in the majority. You don’t need to, because you’ve lost nothing. It’s like when my white coworkers ask me, “Why do African-Americans need their own heritage week or even an Asian-American awareness week, and why is there no Caucasian-American week?” Because every week is Caucasian week. Every day is Caucasian-American day. You don’t need a special week to show movies of white people like black and asian people do. You just go to the theatre. By default in our society, what white people do are considered the norm. Your experiences are considered the norm, the status quo, not mine, and you are validated with it throughout society. You turn on the tv anytime of the day, and you can find beautiful, strong white people of all types to validate who you are as a human being and as an American. It’s not something you even need to think about. And so what if there are white people playing roles as crooks or as child molestors. It doesn’t matter, because you have so many positive, cultural validations, you don’t even need to think twice about it. How do you think African-Americans would feel if all people saw on television were African-Americans as thieves and crooks? (That was not that long ago and still not uncommon for tv). What type of perception does that give to all people? Something like approximately less than 5% of network tv roles are given to minorities and that’s after years and years of work and lobbying. How many Asian-American men without accents were there on tv when I was growing up? Forget about the accents, how many Asian-American men were there at all? How many are there now? I “think” I might be able to count them on 1 hand. How many Asian-American singers are there in the US? Again 1 hand. My coworkers will ask me, why do Black people need BET. They don’t understand because most of tv is white people. If I want to see an Asian-American(someone that represents me as a human being) on tv, I have to schedule it in advance or buy a dvd, and I already have all of them. I can’t just turn on the tv. African-Americans pushed and pushed to get even the roles that they are in now on tv, especially the positive ones. We have such a long way to go. And what about the Asian-Americans? Will we always be depicted as buck-toothed, nerdy laundry cleaners with foreign accents? Is that me I see on tv? No. Either that or always in kung-fu roles. You don’t know how many times growing up people came up to me and said, “HI-Ya”, hundreds and hundreds. And how many times did they push me to see if I could do kung-fu on them. I’m tired.

When you demean a person(whether on purpose or not), make them inferior, make them less than a full human being, then overtime it becomes easier to justify to yourself the commiting of hurtful acts and even atrocities. The white/black history of the US has shown us this, my life has shown me this. And maybe the person that commits those acts won’t be you, but I guarantee you it will be someone, because just as you as a white person are validated positively in so many ways everyday, so happens the validation of negative stereotypes of minorities. And just as you don’t need to think about your positive validations, you don’t need to consider the negative validations either against people that might look like me.

This was so hard and difficult for me to explain, and I know I didn’t go a good job.

Thanks for listening,

Blake Ma

Comment by Blake Ma 03.07.07 @ 7:14 pm


Bravo. The way this is being handled should be commended. Good will come out of this… I am excited to see such transparency and you are correct, it must start in the church. We are behind you!

Terrace Crawford
Minister of Students
Norfolk | VA

Comment by Terrace Crawford 03.07.07 @ 11:22 pm

i am a youth worship leader in south africa. My country,as most would know, has been through a long era of racial discrimination. We are so blessed now that Apartheid is behind us, however, we as the church are far from making progress in this area. i would like to thank my brother Marko and the youth sepcialities guys for you bravery. That’s what it means to be HEROS. Keep the passion hot for Jesus.


Comment by Olefile 03.08.07 @ 4:21 am

Dear Mark,
Like many who have already spoken, I thank you. I deeply appreciate your heartfelt contrition, your agonizing over the issue and prompt action. It helps more than many realize. I do believe that you understand some of the struggles of the plight of many silent voices and troubled hearts including my own. Those who know you and have spoken about your character in these comments only accentuates your integrity here.

We do need each other. Should we not be open to correction? Should we not make right what is wrong? Are we not to drop everything even the act of worship to make right was a brother may have against you whether they deserve it or not? As painful as this has been I believe this was a step for all of us towards becoming a more redemptive community.
your brother,

Laurence Tom

Comment by LT 03.08.07 @ 4:30 am

Marko, This is were I am intercessing from. Just reading these E-mails have really encouraged me to see the body of christ draw to their knees over the love they have for one another.This is on the front burner of the holy spirits fire.We are not a race we are the body of Chrst, we are One, We are citizens of heaven. When someone in the body gets hurt it effects us all.I cryed through these E-mails Because it hurts me Too. But it hurts me because i love these people and i know how much Jesus loves us all and this is sad but beatuiful to read but just like when Jesus died on the cross, it was sad but beautiful that he loved us all this much!!!! God bless you all for having an humbling integerity of leadership. This is my biggest prayer on the earth right now!You have encouraged my prayer closet through this public apology!!!!!!!!!! And given deeper conviction for the deep wounds we all cause by ignorance. I truely pray all accept the apology ..
to the praise of the glory of his grace,wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.. ephesians1:6

Comment by nancy 03.08.07 @ 8:58 am

I think we see here in the apology and the posts the loving grace of God that should define us a believers in the one and only God. Marko and YS, my respect is off the scale. No finger pointing the buck stopped with you, and you stood up and made it right. Thanks to all for demonstrating real love for each other! Blessings to all my brothers and sisters.

Comment by Kenn Todd 03.08.07 @ 11:31 am


Comment by Matt 03.08.07 @ 11:32 am

[…] to mark o March 8, 2007 Posted by L T in asian american, youth ministry, reconciliation. trackback Dear Mark, Like many who have already spoken, I thank you. I deeply appreciate your heartfeltcontrition, your agonizing over the issue and prompt action. It helps more than many realize. I do believe that you understand some of the struggles of the plight of many silent voices and troubled hearts including my own. Those who know you and have spoken about your character in these comments only accentuates your integrity here. […]

Pingback by my response to mark o « american born chinese pastor 03.08.07 @ 12:29 pm

Marko- I think you should make those guys who edited it go out and sell girls scout cookies.

Comment by dooledo 03.08.07 @ 2:42 pm

and eat a whole box of cookies they don’t like

Comment by dooledo 03.08.07 @ 2:42 pm

i think anyone who was offended by the pizza skit should recieve a free pizza

Comment by kyle H 03.08.07 @ 2:49 pm

I think your apology is well done, though it may be painful for you.

Comment by Chad 03.08.07 @ 2:53 pm

Now I’m hungry for pizza.

Comment by 03.08.07 @ 5:02 pm

Marko…God’s grace and mercy are sufficient and available to all. I thank you for your honesty and apology and I pray that you and The Skit Guys will continue to lean on that grace and mercy and that others in the Christian community will continue to show it to you.

Comment by Denae Richards 03.08.07 @ 5:32 pm


Thanks for being a leader…Thanks for doing the right thing…Thanks for your heartfelt repentance…Thanks for the guts and humility to apologize as a leader for YS…Thanks for mobilizing the body of Christ to love one another…May the Lord give you favor for being obedient…Receive the grace and reconciliation of Jesus…Be encouraged, Keep leading with plenty of prayer…David Burke

Comment by David Burke 03.08.07 @ 7:58 pm

Kia ora bro,

Racisim sucks, lets give it the boot


Comment by JR 03.09.07 @ 1:51 am


I believe that God will use this incident to bring healing, reconciliation, and repentance in His church. I got referred to this post just as I was studying for my Modern Church History Final at Fuller. I had just finish reading about Richard Allen, an African American preacher who left St. George’s Church in Philadelphia after an African American man got escorted out of the church for praying in the front of the church after service. Allen helped form the AME church.

We’re all imperfect and have a long way to go. God is in the process of purifying His Bride and He is not done with us!

I’m an Asian American youth pastor of a predominantly AA church in the Los Angeles area and I want to thank you for your apology. I receive it as a validation of the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) racism that we Asians still encounter in America. Thank you for being strong enough to point out the wrong and to change it. God bless you.

YS products have benefited my group in the past (just used the “Spell My Feet” Game this past weekend) and I will continue to use them in the future.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Comment by Andrew Kim 03.09.07 @ 3:14 am

Wow, as I sat here and read through the apology,my first thought was: Nice job. Then as I read down the comments I saw things that just plain bothered me.
First, I am a Hispanic guy-24 years old. So yes, I do understand what it’s like to be pulled over (and in one case) pulled out of my car by a police officer because my tail light was out-and other times for no reason. I know what it’s like to be called names that I’m not going to write down. I know what it’s like to be followed around by a security guard in a mall. I also know what its like to walk into a Christian bookstore and watch the YP in front of me (25 year old white guy) get the pastor discount without a problem, but when I tried I had to pull out my church id.
I watched a movie the other day where it made a joke about Puerto Ricans and Mexicans. I laughed. (Gasp) I am Puerto Rican, yet I laughed… why? because I have come to a place where I understand that some people are jerks, some people are racist against me because of the color of my skin. Some people talk about me because of the God I serve. It’s life. And thank God I have more to look forward to than this world.

With that said-I agree with rollingdiciple, why is it that any minority group (in this case asian, in other cases african, in other cases hispanic, and so on) seem to look for something to get upset about?
My best friend is a white police officer in NYC. A few weeks ago while pulling over a car for the tags being expired he was shot at. After a short chase in which other officers were involved in they stopped the car. The man opened his door and began once again to fire at police. They returned fire killing him and firing 20shots to his 7. Now does it really matter what color this mans skin is? No, but of course it was white cops killing a black man for no reason. I really am bothered by things like this because it makes every minority group look bad. You wonder why the majority does not understand why this would be upsetting? Because by our actions we have allowed them to. When everything becomes a race issue, and I am not naive to believe that most things aren’t; we’re causing the problem just as much as anyone else.

With that being said there is no place for any kind of racism in YS books nor in the church. And for those of us who have been hurt because of a church body based on our color-instead of sulking and feeling sorry for ourselves-maybe we should show the people who just dont understand our culture, how to understand it. Maybe instead of saying “Well I’m going to an Asian, Hispanic, or African American church, we’ll just go to church.
By saying things like that we are continuing to put walls up between us, which is what the enemy wants us to do. Divide and conquer. Please, some things are worth throwing the race card out for, most are not.

Comment by Jon R 03.09.07 @ 7:59 am

Oh, sorry for all the errors, its 4am PST here and I’m headed to bed

Comment by Jon R 03.09.07 @ 8:06 am

Before this post gets lost in annals of the second page I wanted to post one more thought.

I’ve visited this post many times to read others thoughts; as well as visit their blogs in regards to this and I’ve noticed many disturbing trends.

Marko thank you so much for your honesty and vulnerability. It is uncommon (even in the church) for such candor and soul searching in regards to such issues. After visiting many sites that were linked through these posts I was disturbed to notice that not many of the posters here acknowledged their need to grow in this matter. Most of them smack of a “Vindication is ours tone” but yet not one of them acknowledges that the American church needs to heal. And that healing will come through understanding on all sides of the equation. Again (see my previous post)

“So I have one question for everyone…When will we stop holing ourselves up in our sanctimonious, and homocentric steeples and preach about the reconciliation of Christ and ignore the separation of our body?”

Having grown up in Detroit (Marko you can attest) the city is much divided. Hispanics (Southwest side) Polish and Yugoslavians (Hamtramck) African Americans (Northwest side) Irish (East Detroit) etc… Unfortunately many of our churches are the same way. I attended Temple Baptist essentially in Detroit (Redford). 5000 people and 90% white suburbanites. The church that in that location at the time; Straightgate 5000 people 90% African Americans. ??????. Temple Baptist is now moved to the Suburbs…Straightgate is still in Detroit.
I don’t know how it is in other cities…But I would love to know if it’s different. I know of one church in Grand Rapids that is truly diverse; but it came at a cost. They were thinking about moving to the suburbs to escape urban blight and their pastor challenged the congregation to re-think and to examine what Christ was calling them too! Most of the previous congregation left and they started over. Today almost 7 years later they are pretty close to 50% white and 50% minority groups. What an amazing testimony to the power of God.

I ache and weep (not hyperbole) about separation of races in the church. It will only change when everyone decides to step out and recognize their own biases and need to create a “comfort” zone of familiarity.

Thanks for listening. My prayer is for continued growth and understanding.

In Him,

Comment by Chris 03.09.07 @ 10:55 am

Hey did you know that the material is still up on the internet, in a google cache? I wonder if they would remove it for you.

Comment by Ted Brandt 03.09.07 @ 11:05 am

It’s kind of ironic that the title of the book is “Skits That Teach.” Looks like someone needs to act out some of the skits to the authors, Eddie James and Tommy Woodard and teach them some lessons about stereotyping and racism.

Mark your apology was moving and there’s something amazing about God’s grace and how it transforms sinners like us from one glory to another, but I personally won’t be rushing out to pick up the “new” version of the book anytime soon.

Korean American Youth Pastor

Comment by Rosanna Suh 03.09.07 @ 3:28 pm

i’m pleased by what YS have done. but you have done what is right, so i’m not sure you need to be congratulated for that.

i’m deeply impressed by the courage of those who confronted YS and stood their ground to be heard.

Comment by ella 03.09.07 @ 4:14 pm

I read the skit and laughed. It was funny. When did we forget to laugh at ourselves. Has anyone ever been to an Asian resteraunt. Many times the person working there has poor english, so what. Should I be offended if someone made fun of my southern accent. Maybe any ethnic show on TV should be taken off the air.
I know I’m gonna get slammed for saying all this, but I do not want my book replaced and I don’t think this in anyway reflects poorly on the “Skit Guys”.
“Eddie James and Tommy Woodard and teach them some lessons about stereotyping and racism.”-so what you are saying is that there isn’t a single Chinese delivery guy in the country that talks like the guy in the skit? Most skits are based in reality.
In no way did I see Asians in a lesser light by what was in the skit. Nor do I think they all talk like the guy in the skit. Just like I don’t think all Asians are good in Math, or all Mexicans are illegal, or etc.
Someone mentioned earlier about tv and the lack of Asian heroes that weren’t kung fu oriented. Check out the show Heroes. The character Hiro rocks!
If I wanted to I could draw racial messages in that show: a haitian can “steal your memories”, a woman has a split personality and one of them is evil and violent, isn’t that a dig againt schizophrenic(probrably mispelled) people, these people with these genetic powers were discovered by a professor from India, so are all people from India are highly intelligent and well educated and while that professor was in America guesswhat he did for a living, he was a taxi driver in New York. What about the most evil person on the show, Sylar, he is white, is that a meesage of the evil white guy trying to take the powers of everyone else, which is what Sylar does on the show.
I am fortunate that in a small rural town in Florida, where I am a Student minister, we have four to five African-Americans, 3 Puerto Ricans, a Phillipino an Asian student in our group. They were brought by white friends. We joke all the time about our races. They make fun of themselves more than anyone. There is a real bond in Christ there and race is not a dividing factor, and I think because we don’t walk around on egg shells worried that we are going to offend each other.
Now everyone can say how insensitive I am, but I know who I am and who I belong to. I wonder how many people thought I was an uneducated hick when I mentioned my southern accent. From what I read above and the length of the apology I imagine that the Skit Guys will no longer be published by Youth Specialties, and that would be a shame. Accusing them of racism is a knee jerk reaction. I’ll tell you exactly how that skit got through the editorial process, everyone in that room that read the skit thought it was freakin hilarious, and probrably never gave it another thought.
I have a child with Autism maybe I should get offended everytime I hear the retard when it is used in an inappropriate way, but I don’t take it personally. Know who you are and live your life for Christ.

Okay everyone’s turn to dump on me.

Comment by Bobby 03.09.07 @ 10:16 pm

bobby calls himself a student minister.
God help us all.

Comment by emergingtruth 03.10.07 @ 3:48 am

Ow emergingtruth that stone hurts.

Comment by Bobby 03.10.07 @ 9:23 am

I guess I struck a nerve, bobby. I wasn’t expecting that from someone who wrote, “There is a real bond in Christ there…because we don’t walk around on egg shells worried that we are going to offend each other.”

I’d like to pass on some wise words that make everything just peachy:

“Know who you are and live your life for Christ.”

Comment by emergingtruth 03.10.07 @ 12:27 pm

EmergingTruth…Your blog is so littered with marginalizations and generalizations about other people that I would hardly call you a barometer of tolerance.

Same with BlakeMa’s site and many of the other sites I visited through this feed.

But because Asians (some not all) wanted to rally cry against the “skit guys” they speak for all Asians? Give me a break.

I’ve read this site many, many, many, times and I see alot of hypocrisy. Call to task the “skit guys” because or their skit but make no steps to check yourself or moderate yourselves. And all of you call yourselves servants of Christ…Again Give Me A Break. One guy speaks scripture and he’s lambasted for saying “Turn the other cheek” but if you read the rest of that passage in John were Jesus is telling the disciples how to follow him; you quickly see that Jesus is pointing out that we have recieved just as much grace and tolerance from God because we’re all screw-ups.

I’ve mentioned on many of the blog sites listed here that I would love to dialogue with any Asian about the this topic of race and seperation but surprisingly none of them have taken me up on my offer. But I guess it’s alright to launch a “Racism grenade” and then run back behind the protective walls of your own communities to hide with people who completely agree with your opinion. In fact several of the people have locked me out of their blog sites. Amazing! I guess it’s because they don’t want dialogue they just want everyone to do what they want.

Comment by Anonymous 03.10.07 @ 4:37 pm

No emerging you didn’t. I was using sarcasm there. Actually your repsonse to what I said needs more explanation on your part. How, in your opinion am I not fit for Youth ministry? Why do you think you touched a nerve? Why did you trivialize my philosophy of knowing yourself in Christ? Isn’t that a large step in accepting others? People are racist becasue they fear what they don’t understand. I personally enjoy Asian culture, the parts I know of. Do we not like to talk about differences in cultures and race? Are we trying to ignore race or do we focus on it too much? I think the mental disorder of political correctness has infected to many minds?
And actually it was God who called me into Student Ministry so that’s what he calls me.
I really expected more “tolerence” for a differing opinion from someone with the word “emerging” in his blog name.
Look I didn’t say the original blog to insult anyone, but I am happy with the progress I see among our teens at my church. It’s not perfect, never will be, but I see great progress. When people have that growing relationship with Christ their view of others will change. I never looked down on a person because of their skin color, but I didn’t truly love them until I came to Christ at age 18.
I was raised in a racist home, but I never accepted the view that one race is inferior or superior to another. Try to remember that racism and prejudice are two different things, and we are all prejudice to some degree. Such as traditional churches toward emergent and vice versa.
Sorry so long. I’m going back to the Ooze page now.
In His Love,

P.S. Anyone who blogs about this should at least put their real name at the end of it.

Comment by Bobby 03.10.07 @ 6:53 pm

please, i’ve felt the discussion in this comment section has been, primarily, helpful. but in the last day or two, a few people have been stepping over the line. i’ve actually deleted two comments (which probably doubles the amount of comments i’ve deleted in 18 months of blogging), and have considered deleting more. accusations, at this point, are NOT helpful. defensiveness, at this point, is NOT helpful. if you feel the need to make a snotty comment, or to dismiss all people of a particular race with one generalization (asian or caucasian), i humbly request that you do so on your own blog, and not mine.

Comment by marko 03.10.07 @ 11:06 pm

okay we don’t need comments like those.

This is getting ridiculous!

Comment by Bobby 03.10.07 @ 11:20 pm

i’m deleting them, bobby. please, everyone, just take a freakin’ pill and relax. i really don’t want to have to turn off the comments.

Comment by marko 03.10.07 @ 11:22 pm

I’ve had a chance to read everyone’s apologies and My opinion is they sound like people trying to keep their jobs more than real apologies. I’m not saying you arent really sorry, i believe you are cause ive seen your hearts in action before. but next time, dont mix risk management and damage control with the apology. Just say sorry and move on. Wow. this issue is keeping someon up at night. That just sounds crazy. No one Died. No one Hurt permanently. No Wonder people thing Christians are a little wacky.

Comment by Jonathan 03.11.07 @ 5:47 am

Oh yeah and by the way. My mom thinks “Freakin” is a euphemism for a bad word. She expects you to destroy all literature, censor all currently published blogs and seek couseling…:)

Comment by Jonathan 03.11.07 @ 5:50 am

ALL of this is why Jesus had to die on the cross. Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun, nor will there ever be. We will continue to sin against each other, and continue to need to repent and forgive. Ethnically, I am a mut of many colors (and I am guilty of prejudice), but my blood, like everyone else, runs red. This blog has been a great eye, heart, and mind-opening journey, but prejudice, as important as it is, is not the main thing. JESUS is the main thing. As long as we are on this earth, there will be an infinite number of “causes” for us to focus on, and we need to. But for those of us who are followers of Christ, let us not forget that we are all on the same team. We will never agree fully about everything; we will never fully understand our infinite differences, but we CAN do what Jesus did in the garden. Three times He BEGGED the Father for a different way, and three times He realigned Himself to the Fathers will. That gives me more encouragement than anything else in the Bible. Each one of us will continue to focus on our circumstance, but each of us can choose to look up and realign our view to Gods will in every situation and choose to do whatever it takes to bring Him glory. One last thing…my son is taking Karate; the instructor is a Christian. I questioned the yin and yang symbol (different religion, right?) being used in their logo. Long story short, the image (not the meaning) has become huge for me. I “see” it applying to so many situations lin life. I know it wasnt intended, but Romans 12:21 (I like the “mirror” image of the numbers) says, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” If you look at the yin and yang symbol, that verse is so applicable. The black (evil) and white (good) are constantly advancing on the other–never stopping. There is a little of both in each one. One of my new ways of aligning my thinking is to picture myself looking up and seeing Jesus on the cross. When I look side to side and see other people, the “playing field” is level. We ALL are guilty in one way or another. May God bless us all with grace and mercy toward every other person created in His image, and may we USE the resurrection power that is in us as believers to love others with Gods love. (Sorry, my apostrophe would not work!)

Comment by Sheila 03.11.07 @ 1:12 pm

After reading through all of this the first thing that comes to my mind is “lighten up.” I’m of asian descent and it would take a lot more than something like this skit to offend me. It just seems to me that too many people are wearing their feelings on their sleeves.

The Skit Guys make fun of a white girls with their beenie weenie skit, but I don’t see an outcry from the white female community. Are all white girls like that character that Tommy plays in that skit? Of course not, IT IS A JOKE! IT IS JUST A SKIT!!! It is funny! No one assumes all white girls talk like that, no one takes that personally, unless they are ultra sensitive and have some kind of chip on their shoulder just waiting to get knocked off.

No offense, but I think some of you just take yourselves way too seriously. I suspect that the reason Tommy and Eddie (The Skit Guys) didn’t think of this as being racist when they wrote it is because they don’t take themselves that seriously. They laugh at themselves and they make fun of themselves more than anyone. They probably just assumed that others look at themselves in the same way they look at themselves…as funny people with funny quirks that make others laugh. They weren’t intending to hurt anyone and I can tell they are really sorry for their offense, so LIGHTEN UP!

Laugh at yourself!!! I still get tickled at my dad when he replaces his L’s with R’s. We laugh about it together because he doesn’t take himself that seriously. Its like when Lucy made fun of Ricky’s way of speaking English…was it because she didn’t love him or because she was a racist? Of course not!!! IT WAS FUNNY! LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE!!!

Sorry, I just had to get that out.

Comment by Lang 03.12.07 @ 3:38 pm


Since you’re of Asian descent, you should know better. You may be tough-skinned and I admire you for that but helping other races perpetuate racial stereotypes does not help us. The church should not be a place where the propagation of racism or prejudice belongs even if it’s “just a joke.”

I coach track and field and just the other day a Caucasian male athlete started making fun of Asian culture by expressing his stereotypical views to the rest of the team (he didn’t want an Asian athlete to go near a dog that came onto the track because he’d eat it). I pointed to a black athlete and I asked the Caucasian athlete to make fun of black culture. He didn’t. Then I pointed to a Mexican athlete and asked him to make fun of Mexican culture. He didn’t. When it comes to making fun of Asian culture, people don’t think twice about it. Who’s afraid of being “jumped” by the “model minority?”

If someone who wasn’t Asian made fun of my dad’s pronunciation, I don’t know about you, but I’d let that person know that I wasn’t “tickled.” There’s a difference between making fun of yourself (or your kind) and making fun of others.

In the church, if you’re gonna tell a joke, make fun of yourself… if you’re anything like me, you’ll have years of material.

Thanks again Marko for recognizing the Church’s role to sharpen and not to dull. To lift up and not to tear down. To love and not to hate. To unify and not to divide. Stay up!

Comment by Andrew Kim 03.12.07 @ 8:12 pm

Dear Mark,

I greatly appreciate your efforts and your response to this situation. As someone who used to work in Christian publishing (one of very, very few Asian Americans amongst the editorial staff across 10-12 magazines in the organization both then and since), it was difficult to be the one always trying to point out instances of editorial racial insensitivity. For true change to occur, those who are in positions of leadership must be the ones to take initiative, difficult though it sometimes may be, otherwise stereotypes and cultural ignorance will continue to persist.

Those of us who have contacts in Christian journalism have actually tried to pitch this story, not for the purpose of vilifying anyone involved, but as a positive example (in contrast to LifeWay’s response to their offensive “Rickshaw Rally” VBS material a couple of years ago) of a Christian organization who recognized its sinful action but did not run away from it or hide it. The educational value alone this can have for other publishers is enormous; alas, to my knowledge no major Christian media outlet has agreed that the news value is there. Which I think is truly a shame. (The LifeWay story did become an article in Christianity Today; I suppose the story of an organization who responded poorly has more “news value.”)

What I would like to encourage you to do, if you are willing and able, is to find ways to encourage your colleagues in Christian publishing to be aware of the situation that you/YS went through, and to use this incident as a catalyst for further discussion within your industry to reduce the possibility of these sorts of decisions to happen in the future. For example, perhaps you could lead a seminar on this topic at an upcoming ECPA convention, or in whatever similar venue is appropriate for your company–whatever would give other organizations the chance to learn what you have learned. I so appreciate that you have emailed all those youth workers and taken all the steps you have taken thus far. But change happens from the top, and until more leaders of Christian publishing become aware of how easy it is to perpetuate racial stereotypes, it won’t be long before we’ll be discussing and dissecting yet another incident such as this in another Christian book or teaching material.

I know you seek no credit for your actions in this matter, but in my mind it would be most unfortunately if no other leaders of Christian publishing learned from what you have experienced. Please find a way to transfer the knowledge and the conviction you have gained on to your industry colleagues. The positive impact could be tremendous, and so edifying for the Body as a whole.

Helen Lee
Co-editor, Growing Healthy Asian American Churches (IVP)
Former asst. editor, Christianity Today

Comment by Helen Lee 03.12.07 @ 10:56 pm

As a fellow Caucasian Jesus-follower who wants to continue to grow in this area, I want to suggest another book: “Being White: Finding our Place in a Multi-ethnic World” by Paul Harris and Doug Schaupp. This was a big “A-ha!” book for me, after having read “Divided by Faith” and most of the sequel, “United by Faith.” Thanks for your humility and integrity in making this right for yourself and your company.

Comment by Lori 03.13.07 @ 11:39 am

I don’t have the book - never read the skit - just came across this in the YSUpdate. But I have been blessed by reading your apology and many of the comments posted, for they all are leading me to a deeper examination of my own values and sensitivity to racism. Your actions - both personal and company-wide - speak loudly to me of your integrity as a person, a minister, and a corporate leader. I commend you and YS for your atonement for it has served as an example to all of us in ministry and to the corporate world of how to deal with mistakes regardless of the motivation behind those mistakes. I pray and trust that God will bring about a great “good” out of this bad situation.

May the blessings of our great God of Forgiveness and Healing be with you!
Don Boucher,
Director of Youth Ministry
Diocese of Springfield, MA

Comment by Don Boucher 03.13.07 @ 12:03 pm

Mean racist remarks are only said by mean racists. Don’t apologize if it was meant to be a funny skit. If it was intended to be hurtful, then apologize. If Shakespeare were alive today and worried about all the people he might offend simply by his character descriptions, think of all the great literature we would be missing. Lighten up. For that matter, would there be sermons on the “Good man”,”Good Woman”, “Good Samaritan”? Would the character have been funnier if it was a delivery girl? Were men offended that it was a guy and not a girl? Skits should no longer say male or female just “person”.
As writers for YS you could be offended that readers thought you would purposely write something racially motivated. Lighten up people.
Christ left heaven’s joys to give us joy. Laugh - at yourself and each other. We Christian people do hysterical things. The other day I was punching in my debit card’s numbers on a computer and had to stop cause I didn’t know the next number. 552? Why? I had the card upside down. Laugh! LOL!! (and yes, I don’t remember the rule for commas and quotes):)

Comment by Laurie 03.13.07 @ 2:58 pm

Laurie, Wow your statement is very based in individual experience, there is a broader society we have to be conscious of. Im sorry but making statements like, “Mean racist remarks are only said by mean racists. Don’t apologize if it was meant to be a funny skit. If it was intended to be hurtful, then apologize” are exactly what perpetuate stereotypes and institutional racism (racism acted out through law). Certain people have privilege in our society and part of that privilege is never having to admit to holding racist ideologies. Today we live in a society that loves to talk about equality, but rarely is this view held. It isnt held because people think certain things are ok (such as racist jokes). They are racist jokes plain and simple and I am greatful that YS has apologized for there actions. No I dont think the intent was to be overtly racist but again having privilege means being able to explain things away because you can (you have the “right” to), by not apologizing you are infact contributing to racist ideals. As Christians we need to stand up for the oppressed (women, minorities, disabled, young people, elderly) rather than contribute to their oppression. If Christians would do this Oh what a world this would be!!!! Jesus talks a whole lot more about helping the opreessed and loving others than anything and I think we as the church have lost that. Its not about how sensitive people are or arent its about whats right and whats wrong and what we as the church want to show people, you choose. Racist Jokes that are funny or equal treatment because Jesus has called us to reflect that in our lives? Love ya guys
DTL…DYING TO LIVE Jr. High Ministries

Comment by Andre 03.13.07 @ 5:12 pm

When will white people understand that stereotypes at the expense of the majority do not equal the stereotypes of the minority; especially since the latter have a history of being abused both physically and mentally? Minorities have a history of being marginalized, dehumanized, degraded, and minstrel-ized. If we proposed the opposite, we would have been lynched.

I’m sorry to be the one to burst your harmonious “colorblind” view of society where equality is paramount but while being colorblind sounds like a good idea on paper, it’s not. We’re not equal. While all human beings are equal, our racial leverage is not. Whites are in positions of power and influence in every aspect of political, economic, and social life in this country. The word “colorblind” contains a very important word and the word is “blind.” It means you can’t see. I’d rather see everything and make a conclusion based on what I can see. The perfect solution is for everyone to see race but treat everyone equally. If you can’t see race, you can’t understand what’s offensive to any particular group.
Different races in this country are not equal and their ability to project racism and stereotypes, while equal in derogatory intent, are not equal in how they transpire in American society. Therefore, one cannot simply compare the extremely ignorant example of white stereotypes compared to minority stereotypes. The theory on how the world should be colorblind is extremely dangerous because it ignores explicit details on how racism affects others in this country.

On top of that, whites need to stop telling other minorities what they should and shouldn’t find offensive. I don’t chide the local Christian woman in my office when she takes offense to a joke one of my employees made about “a woman didn’t want to get an abortion. No problem. Just kick her in the stomach and make her leak it out.” She raised her displeasure over and the joke and I disciplined the offender at hand. Did I tell her to get a sense of humor? Absolutely not. Who am I to push my opinions onto her and have her abide by my standards? What gives me the right?

That’s right. No one. Therefore, extend the courtesy and don’t do it to others. If they find it offensive, try and be a little respectful and extend the same courtesy that you wish to receive.

The whole idea of whites using the defensive response of “stop being so PC,” “lighten up,” or “don’t take it so seriously” is a perfect example of how whites attempt to shut down discussions of racism (of which they’re usually the aggressor) in this country in an attempt to blame the victim or portray them as social prudes. Has anyone given any thought that while everyone can and should laugh at themselves; the reason why Asian Americans are so sensitive about it is because maybe Asians are constantly portrayed as caricatures in mainstream media rather than human beings? Could it be that maybe Asian Americans will eventually be able to laugh at situations like this if they had more positive media exposure in America?

No? Why not? Try not to make assumptions, with such religious fervor, without knowing all the details.

Lastly, the so-called Asians and Asian Americans that commented on this topic about how other Asians should “lighten up” are nothing but “scabs.” For those not aware of workers’ unions, scabs were know as people who crossed the picket line and thus, undermining a workers’ strike. These Asians are no different because they help perpetuate racism in this country by making it harder to point out the dangers of racism. They trivialize it and fail to realize that racial stereotypes can barrel into something bigger such as racial harassment and discrimination. Grow up and try to look beyond the current situation at hand.

And to “Anonymous,” I’ll be glad to open up dialog with you regarding racial relations, specifically Asian American issues, if you so choose. Just pick the date and time.

Comment by Rob 03.13.07 @ 7:47 pm

We must be able to laugh at each other and ourselves. If we continue to become so politically correct us Christians WILL NOT be able to preach. Preaching will become intolerant because it calls black, black and wrong choices sin. Let us not become so limited in our depth that we can’t see beyond humor, life, experience, and change. Black is black, whits is white, etc. Let’s live and let live. What is said in love then let it love. What is said in hate, then let’s address it. The purpose of this skit was obvious. Not to be negative to a particular group, its bigger meaning was truth. All truth comes from God. Let us not forget that God created us the way we are. Let’s love and not let ignorance seperate that love. We ABSOLUTELY need to get over the mistakes of our forefathers. I do not approve of their choices nor can I change them. THEREFORE I will not take credit for their actions, I as a Caucasian have no indifference to anyone regardless of their color, size, sex, or anyhting. That should work both ways.

Comment by Shaun Mayfield 03.13.07 @ 9:45 pm

Rob, if I read between the lines, you just said, “Put up your dukes!”

Brothers and sisters! This is getting out of control. Look what is happening while we offend, even unintentionally through a “harmless” skit–or take offense to a “malicious” skit, whether intended or not…including those who only got offended because someone else got offended…(my head is spinning)…

I looked up “offense” in the dictionary; that led to “stumbling block”…which I believe we’re told not to be…

stumbling block
1 : an obstacle to progress
2 : an impediment to belief or understanding

Christians…will our words keep others from progressing to belief?

This little acrostic might seem silly, but it helps me remember the Biblical principles in Scripture (you remember…that stuff that is “all” inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…)

T…Is it True?
H…Is it Helpful?
I…Does it Inspire?
N…Is it Necessary?
K…Is it Kind?

Ps 141:3 3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.

Eph 4:29-32 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

1 Peter 2:23-24 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

James 1:10-20 This you know, my beloved brethren, but everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

1 Cor:5-7 (Love) does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Speaking of LOVE…while we siblings scrap among ourselves, the world is watching…and unbelievers rightfully call us hypocrites. Are we not called to the ministry of reconciliation?

2 Cor 5:18-19 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

“Blessed are the peacemakers”…If we offend people (by their definition, not ours), do we ever have the right to demand that they just “get over it?” Remember…”By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

And to this, I have yet to find an exception clause.

Accept that it’s a fact of life that stereotyping is going to continue as long as mortals inhabit the earth–because we are sinful and because stereotypical behavior DOES exist. We need to “get over it” AND “get over it” when others don’t “get over it.” Brothers and sisters! We are squabbling over man-made identities! We only have one identity that really matters—BEING a child of God…a Christ-follower.

Ps 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

Comment by Sheila 03.14.07 @ 10:03 am

To the skit writers (and the “Just-Get-Over-Its”)

I looked up “ethnic stereotypes” and took Google’s first link, the Wikipedia (not necessarily Christian) definition. This shows us that the use of stereotypes may not be the most effective–and may be a counterproductive–method of teaching (since “teaching” was the purpose of the skit in the first place.)

“An ethnic stereotype is a generalized representation of an ethnic group, composed of what are thought to be typical characteristics of members of the group. The use of ethnic stereotypes is usually demeaning even when the characteristics might be considered positive because it tends to discount the importance and uniqueness of the individual.

False ethnic stereotypes can gain acceptance as fact through frequent repetition. The use of stereotypes often leads to misunderstanding and hurt feelings, because they may be either untrue generalizations, truthful but unflattering generalizations, or truthful generalizations about a group which are untrue of any given member of a group. Many modern ethnic stereotypes can be described as accurate representations of social norms within a given ethnicity and may reflect what a large portion of the living population is, in fact, doing. Within each ethnicity there is always a minority, or even a majority, that chooses not to reflect the stereotype. But even individuals who do reflect the stereotype may find it negative and offensive.”

Comment by Sheila 03.14.07 @ 10:28 am

Sorry, curiousity got the best of me…had to see the skit for myself…found it in an Amazon review…

It’s very offensive. That overrides funny. I would have been distracted from the point of the lesson.

Comment by Sheila 03.14.07 @ 10:57 am

This is Eddie, one of the skit writers/skitguys…I just want to say thanks for all the discussion on this. We’ve learned alot. I’m willing to talk to anyone that wants to discuss these matters further- we both are.

To Shiela- thanks for your blog above but please be careful…we understand these definitions more than ever and we haven’t told anyone to get over it.

I would also like to say thanks to the people that have emailed us directly at skitguys.com and told us their hurts, the pain, the frustration and even the grace and forgiveness.

So many perceptions - trying to save our jobs, skit racists, immature, kids who have been given the keys to the car, etc.
It’s tough reading these perceptions and judgements about how people view me. I understand- a perception can be reality.

I am truly sorry for the pain we have caused. For anyone that reads this blog and you want to know more about our hearts as men and who we are- we are open to do just that..today, tomorrow a year from now…we are here.

We as well are learning from many of our new mentors in the Asian community and i’m grateful for their kindness in taking us in. Thank you, thank you, thank you for not only telling us your hurt but replying to our emails and helping us figure out the next steps toward healing.

In all honesty, this is my first blog since all of this started on Feb. 19th. I’ve kept my mouth shut and just tried to learn from what people are emailing, to hear from my Creator and to read from you as well.

I hope no one has to go through what we have been through, maybe we can all learn from this and have our eyes opened a little more as we continue to strive to be the Body of Christ.

Eddie James

Comment by eddie 03.14.07 @ 11:22 am

Dear skit guys,
For the record, all racism is wrong. All racists, of every race should be institutionalized together. Course, we know what they will call it, but that’s ok if they end up there, they are racists.
If you had used a different race or culture in the skit, let’s say old black women, would anyone have spoken up about racism? Many would have.
Perhaps, in the future all characters are not to be described at all, but rather given simple number designations, such as the first prson,or to be sexist, the first lady, the fourth man and the fifth child? Or is this number racism? Maybe the second person wants to be first and takes offense at the ordinal labeling. We should as a society get rid of all adjectives that describe people in stereotypical ways or are overtly or subtly racist.
Would the message of the Bible change if it did not have any race and ethnic words? God is not racist, He condems sinners regardless of their race. Would there be a choosen people? Does that mean God is racist because He does have a choosen people. Again, the good person who stopped to help the wounded guy by the side of the road, or, the good Samaritan, though not all Samaritans are good. Is this reverse racism? What about the story of the bad Samaritan, which led to the parable of the good Samaritan? Samaritan was used because most people didn’t think of them as good persons, a definite racist thought on their behalf. But I digress.
I will tell you, your skits will still be funny though they will be longer due to the new character descriptions. Which will mean, more paper used to print them, and therefor costing more. This is discrimination against monetarily challenged people regardless of their race or ethnic background.(Isn’t monetarily challenged a nicer word than poor. I think I just made up a new term. No more welfare office,it’s the new monetarily challenged office of assistance.)(And yes, I have taken public assistance and not just to change the stereotypes of those who do accept it)
Anyway, guys, no more race or ethnic slurs. No more adjectives…does that mean we just did in the seven dwarfs? Cause I know Snow White would be sad. Oh no!! Snow White can’t be Snow White! You writers have alot of work to do! Rename Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. Please. I seriously do not want anyone thinking I’m intentionally or unintentionally, institutionally or freely a racist. I have enough work with the other labels I have to live with.
By they way, what is my race or ethnic background?

Comment by Laurie 03.14.07 @ 12:09 pm

To Eddie,

Sorry for the misunderstanding. I did not include you as one of the “get-over-its.” That was only intended for the bloggers who said that.

Thank God (literally) that “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Let those of us without sin be the first to cast our stone–otherwise, put it down and walk away.

You have confessed. You have asked forgiveness. Restitution has been offered and is being made. You are learning (just like I am) to look at people and the world around us more carefully. I pray the flogging will end soon.

God bless you!

PS To those who doubt the sincerity of the confessions, the requests for forgiveness, and the offers of restitution, how dare you determine to know the hearts of these people? Who made you judge?

Comment by Sheila 03.14.07 @ 12:47 pm

[…] This Is How We Do It I’m coming to this one a little late, but for those of you who haven’t heard, the Christian ministry Youth Specialties was in the news recently after it published what they later realized was a “racist” skit in a new book for youth groups. The good thing about this unfortunate incident is that, after being confronted on it, Youth Specialties immediately issued an apology and took actions to make things right. (Please read the entire apology; it’s powerful stuff!) […]

Pingback by This Is How We Do It « Reconciliation Blog 03.14.07 @ 1:46 pm

i have not read the skit. i am wondering if everyone is being a little to pc. let’s celebrate our differences- becuse we are different. if people want to have a laugh at how my race does things- go to it, i’ll laugh also. let’s not abuse people but just becuse people are different doesn’t mean we can’t have fun making fun of each other. tim

Comment by tim 03.14.07 @ 3:29 pm

I came to Christ 17 years ago. My track coach was (and is) the greatest man I know, and a devout Christian. He invited me to his church, but really it was his life, his example that brought me to Christ.

His wife, his kids were all strong believers. During the olympic games held at atlanta, I was in his home watching the opening ceremonies with his family. The ceremony was impressive, and I asked my coach’s wife what she thought about it. She nonchalantly said, “Well, it was nice, but there were too many black people in it.”

Fast forward a few years, and I am sitting in a service at my home church in Missouri. During an announcement for a new outreach to international students, a non-Asian woman dressed in a kimono (traditional Japanese dress)stepped up to the mike. She was an elder’s wife. She feigned an accent, in which she spoke in halting English. The congregation roared with laughter. There were two Asians in church that day. One was me. The other was my unchurched friend. He turned to me and said, “this is bullsh__.” He got up, turned around (we were sitting in the front row) and walked past the crowd of 800 laughing and guffawing faces. To my knowledge, he has never stepped into a church again.

When he (and I)walked out, it stirred a controversy. Some were concerned that the way we walked out was too militant and not a new testament model of reconciliation. Some were concerned that we were hurt, and needed inner healing. Some were concerned that we didn’t get the joke, and did not understand that no harm was intended. Not once was the elder’s wife held accountable. The problem, it seemed, was us. Thicker skin, an improved sense of humor, inner healing, less outrage, and a less serious disposition seemed to be the order of the day.

My coach’s wife, the elder’s wife, and my church family are good, godly people. I mention these incidents to point to the hidden-ness of racism. If it were blatantly ugly and obvious, the aforementioned people would be quick to repent of it. I know that as a fact. If racism only reared its head by malice aforethought, godly people everywhere would have no part of it. It is it’s latentness that endows it with the ability to propogate and avoid detection.

Marko, I am thankful for your willingness to take that hard, honest look. I wish that skit was never published. I wish my friend did not have to go through that experience. But you have given me hope that a greater good can emerge from this. Maybe it made all of us, regardless of race, take that hard, honest look inwards.

austin chee

Comment by austin chee 03.14.07 @ 10:18 pm

I just found out about this through reconciliation blog today, and I just got to read the apology tonight. I’m SO thankful to our LORD for the grace that has been lavished upon you and all those at YS! You are an incredible testimony of humility!!! It’s a JOY to hear that $ doesn’t seem to be an issue when it comes to destroying all the books and putting out new ones and replacing old ones with new ones!!! Praise the LORD!!!! It’s absolutely worshipful to read through this apology because it’s the grace of our Lord at work - powerful and beautiful! THANK YOU for being an example to the church in racial harmony and humility!!!! And I’m with you - I’m excited to see how the Lord uses this for His glory and purposes!!!

Comment by shawnda 03.14.07 @ 10:55 pm

If you interpreted my words as “fighting words,” I’m glad you did. They were intended to be. The sheer idiocy of how individuals can defend this type of blatant racial caricaturization is absurd. However, it helps explain all the racial ignorance that propagates mainstream media these days.

I am extremely frustrated with the white population of this country and their insatiable appetite on dictating how minorities should react to racism and racist acts. Why don’t you tell us where to live, what to eat, where to work, or where to sit? Why not? It follows the same concept of attempting to hold power over someone by telling them what to do.

Too many of the apologists in these comments have constantly harped on the basis of intention. Let me be the first to state that intention is irrelevant because intention is impossible to prove. If the two skit creators cracked a joke mocking an Asian accent; what separates them from the KKK or World Church of the Creator member that cracks the same type of jokes? You tell us. I give you permission. What can we, as minorities, use to gauge which one is racist? Is there a certain racism Geiger counter that we can purchase somewhere that allows us to detect “intention?”

I also wanted to add that the whole defense of hiding behind the idea of “not being PC” has been warped from a legitament term into a shield has been used to deflect any type of criticism when racist acts are commited.


The blogosphere has its own style of cyber-fad clichés, slightly more high-handed than the stentorian pap of talking-head TV, and occasionally more illuminating. Two examples that leap to my mind are the inescapable utterances of “schadenfreude” and “kabuki”, expressions whose exoticism appears to elevate their usage to haute-cliché à la William Safire. No matter what political controversy is being discussed these days, you’re likely to run across bloggers busting out these 3-syllable badges of faux-erudition with about as much linguistic adroitness as tap-dancers on stilts.

However, there’s one political cliché so popular, so omnipresent, so densely far-reaching, that it is without doubt the greatest cliché of our time. It is the One Cliché to rule them all: “political correctness” and its variants. What’s striking about the repetitive droning complaints about “PC” (from both conservatives and liberals) is that the expression itself — not to mention the concept it invokes — is as sloppily unexamined as it is pedestrian.

The phrase “politically correct” can be used in two distinct ways: either with its original literal meaning, or with the mocking sarcasm that’s common these days. I’ll get to the former in a moment, but I’ll begin with the latter. As it’s commonly used, “PC” is a deliberately imprecise expression (just try finding or writing a terse, precise definition) because its objective isn’t to communicate a substantive idea, but simply to sneer and snivel about the linguistic and cultural burdens of treating all people with the respect and sensitivity with which they wish to be treated. Thus, the Herculean effort required to call me “Asian American” rather than “chink” is seen as a concession to “the PC police”, an unsettling infringement on the free-wheeling conversation of, I suppose, “non-chinks”. Having to refer to black folks as “African Americans” rather than various historically-prevalent epithets surely strikes some red-blooded blue-balled white-men as a form of cultural oppression. Having to refer to “women” rather than “bitches” lays a violent buzzkill on the bar-room banter of men preoccupied with beating on their chests and off other body parts.

Obviously these examples fall on the simplistic side of things, but I think they illustrate the shaky philosophical foundation of today’s usage. Underlying every complaint of “PC” is the absurd notion that members of dominant mainstream society have been victimized by an arbitrarily hypersensitive prohibition against linguistic and cultural constructions that are considered historical manifestations of bigotry. It’s no coincidence that “PC”-snivelers are for the most part white men who are essentially saying, “Who the hell do these marginalized groups think they are to tell me how I should or shouldn’t portray them? I’m not going to say ‘mentally challenged’ when it’s my right to say ‘retard’, goshdarnit there’s only so much abuse I’ll take!”

In this context, the conceit that “political correctness” constitutes a violation of free speech is particularly zany; as though society’s marginalized groups wield oppressive power over the dominant mainstream. Actually, as far as I’m concerned you’re free to call me “chink” and I’m free to call you “moronic racist loser” (and more if necessary, but I’ll leave that aside for now in the interest of false civility). Free speech is the straw man of choice for intellectual bums of all stripes too fragile and vacuous for critical engagement. Calling someone who says or does bigoted things “a bigot” isn’t censorious, it’s descriptively accurate, like calling a bad movie “a bad movie”, even if the bigot didn’t intend to come off as bigoted and the movie didn’t intend to come off as bad.

As for the original literal meaning of “PC”, the phrase is believed to have emerged from China (seriously, I’m not making this up) during the reign of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist thought. Revolutionary leaders unironically applauded words and actions as “politically correct” when these were seen to advance the revolutionary cause (ya think something was lost in translation?). Personally, I suspect that the Chinese phrase predates Maoism and hearkens back to imperial China when complying with the demands of the throne and advancing the interests of the empire, at any level of society, would be “politically correct”; as opposed to, say, writing dissident literature, which would be “politically incorrect” to the point of getting you exiled or executed. In both the Maoist and imperial contexts, the key point to observe is that “PC” denotes alignment with state power. On a semantic and philosophical level, this makes a good deal more sense than the vague pejorative sarcasm of today’s “PC”-snivelers.

Interestingly enough, according to this non-sarcastic, relatively unconsidered, more meaningfully precise definition of the term, the USA is a politically correct nation indeed; but not in the way that most Americans are led to believe. Some examples: Magnetic yellow ribbons are PC. Denouncing Islamism in the name of 9/11 is PC. Reciting the pledge of allegiance is PC. Not talking about radical politics at work or in polite company is PC. Gay-bashing is PC. Standing and placing your hand on your heart during the national anthem is PC. Smiling and applauding when the president enters the room is PC. On the other side of the equation: Marching for civil rights is not PC. Protesting a US war is not PC. Questioning US-Israeli neo-colonial policy in the Middle East is not PC. Calling the US government a white male supremacist corporatist kleptocracy is not PC. Agitating for structural change in our society’s distribution of wealth and power is not PC. Refusing to shake a corrupt president’s hand is not PC.

Frankly, I can think of far more extreme examples of politically incorrect acts and statements, but it’s a testament to the real coercive power of the police state — not some imaginary “PC police” — that I hesitate to publish these thoughts even hypothetically, even with ample theoretical padding. Given this reality, perhaps we might reconsider exactly whose free speech is being violated by whom. As far as I know, “the PC police” haven’t thrown any insensitive white men into Gitmo or launched CointelPro operations against white bloggers who publish blackface. For some reason, people of color who oppose US imperialism haven’t had that same good fortune.

Simply put, the great “PC” cliché, as commonly deployed in mainstream discourse, is cultural propaganda designed to befuddle and misdirect while defending the current power structure. All politics deal with power relations, and in the debate over America’s alleged climate of “political correctness”, there’s a stark asymmetry of power between the defiant megaphone-wielders who complain of being constrained by humorless hypersensitivity from below, and the under-represented people of color, women, LGBT, handicapped, poor, and otherwise marginalized or dispossessed people who have no choice but to absorb the linguistic, cultural, and physical barbs of the ruling class. The former feel psycho-emotionally oppressed by their inability to crack puerile ethnic jokes without criticism; the latter simply are oppressed.

Comment by Rob 03.14.07 @ 11:19 pm

i appreciate the apology…but, we have a long way to go, though, huh?…

in faith, mihee

ps. a few other great books: asian american dreams by helen zia…race matters by cornel west…

Comment by rev. mihee kim-kort 03.14.07 @ 11:53 pm

Now, don’t get me wrong. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. In this case, the owner of this blog goes above and beyond when it comes to an apology. If every single person that angered someone else with their careless and racist comments; this country wouldn’t be embroiled in such a race row.

Unlike most racism perpetrators who insult the victims, Mark Oestreicher decided to care about the sensibilities of others rather than forcing them to change for him. He’s truly a unique individual and I mean that in the most positive way possible.

However, judging from many of these comments, this country’s tolerance of racial relations is very thin because it actually takes work to fix.

I’ve abandoned my Christian background a long time ago specifically because much of the racism I’ve seen has come from “loving” and “tolerant” Christians and the hypocrisy sickens me. I find too many followers of every religion to be just as intolerant as the person next to them.

At least Islam doesn’t try to hide or disguise it’s intolerance towards others. I respect honesty.

Comment by Rob 03.15.07 @ 10:46 am

I really commend you for how you’ve responded to this, with both humility and action.

This issue is especially important to me, since my debut novel will be the first Asian American Christian novel in the CBA, and it’s put out by Zondervan.

As an Asian American, I have a rather different take on the controversy from other Asian Americans who have responded. I just blogged about it today, especially as it relates to my own concerns about how my own book will be received when it comes out.

Until this controversy, it never even occurred to me that anyone would be offended by the things I make fun of in my book. Now, at least, I’m prepared for what people might say, rather than being surprised by it.

Thanks again for responding as you did.

Comment by Camy Tang 03.21.07 @ 7:09 pm

Lots of interesting thoughts, comments, questions, and ideas.

My hope is that each person would take some to consider their personal investment in the Kingdom WORLDVIEW that we are all ONE in Christ Jesus. It’ll be of great interest to see how the organization of YS/Zondervan can contribute to the deconstruction of systemic injustices (economics, race, gender, etc) when it’s so easy for the bottom dollar to generally rule how we go about our decisions.

mark: thanks again for being one of many to be a catalyst to the conversation and the work that needs to take place.

eugene cho

Comment by Eugene Cho 03.23.07 @ 4:15 pm


You wrote, “I am extremely frustrated with the white population of this country and their insatiable appetite on dictating how minorities should react to racism…” and you have the nerve to say they are doing the stereotyping?

I think this shows the root of the problem…many of you stereotype whites by assuming they have racially demeaning motives and so you read in into everything they do. That is why I wrote earlier about lightening up.

I have many white friends and one thing I really love about them is that they don’t take the funny things about their race so seriously. There are movies with titles like, “White men can’t jump” and you see racial jokes about how white people can’t dance or don’t have rhythm all the time, but I’ve never once seen one of my white friends get all offended…even thought one of them is a drummer and the other is only 5′11 and can dunk easily. They think it is funny! They don’t take everything personally.

I think we can learn a lot from our white brother and sisters in this regard. I here other minorities go on and on about how “our people” have been repressed and all that and it makes me sick. Okay, maybe your grandmother was repressed, and maybe a few jerks have looked down on you because of your skin color, but GET OVER IT! Stop living in the past and blaming everything on “the white man.”

Most of them aren’t even thinking negatively about those of other races…especially asians! In my experience white people think we are smarter and they think blacks are better athletics and funnier…if any thing they seem to admire other races.

Stop stereotyping them as being racists and maybe you will lose the chip off your shoulder.

Comment by Lang 03.31.07 @ 4:51 pm

lets see, you cant make fun of the chinese, japanese, black, latino, jew, but the white man is always fair game, right? you make a mountian out of a mole hill. comedy is only funny when there is an element of truth involved and the skit was just that, funny. If you are not willing to accept that basic truth about comedy then i have the answer to this problem, do not do comedy. This way you guys can go through life not having to worry about offending anybody and lets face it Christian comedy has and never will be funny.

Comment by themainvein 04.04.07 @ 10:14 pm

[…] In the interview, Soong-Chan gives a brief overview of the recent Youth Specialties/Skit Guys controversy and the LifeWay Rickshaw Rally debacle.  More importantly, he is able to discuss some of the larger, underlying issues regarding race, faith and the church.  For example: […]

Pingback by A Long and Winding Road « headsparks* 04.12.07 @ 6:15 pm

Man Rob your ‘PC’ post is freakin brilliant. I agree, “Lighten up” or “Stop being so PC” is basically, “Let me demean you as I see fit, dangit, and why don’t you just take it!”

Ok, cuz all the white peeps don’t seem to get it (by the way, I am a college-educated GASP! black dude):

A white man generally doesn’t get offended by stereotypes or insults against him because he holds ALL the power. The “H” word (for whites) holds no history of oppressive power like the “N” word (for blacks) or the “C” or “G” word (for Asians).

Plus, for every negative/funny/geeky portrayal of a white man there are 3 Tom Cruises, 5 Brad Pitts, and 4 Mel Gibsons saving the world and proving how superior white men are.

From what I seen, for every buck-toothed foreign-accented portrayal of an Asian man there are… 5 non-english speaking kung fu masters, 6 geeky Asian nerd or devious villians, 8 asexualized Asians who never kiss the girls, 1 William Hung, and 7 more non-English speaking non-assimiliated foreigners.

I even found out that Asian guy on “Heroes” and the Asian guy on “Lost” are perfect English-speaking Asian-Americans… thats wack… why not give them non-accented English speaking roles? seriously, why not??

That’s why white boys don’t mind being made fun of… they know it’s not true of all whites, and basically everyone knows it’s not true of all whites. So they can easily “lighten up” and laugh at it.

But right now, there’s no positive images of Asians in this country that show they are not all heavily accented foreigners who are not “really Americans.” So when the Asian jokes comes, the Asian dude is like “oh no, not again…” It’s totally different from the white dude case, cuz in this case many people don’t realize it’s not true.

Honestly, I don’t think Asians would mind being made fun of, yes, even from white boys, if there was some reasonable counterbalance, positve images, etc., so everyone knows it’s a joke and not REAL. You’d be surprised what white people in this country belive about blacks and Asians.

Basically my white brothers, stop telling people to “lighten up ” until there is some balance in the way Asians are seen in this country.

It’s like you hold all the cards but tell everyone else to stop whining. Let me take all your cards then and then let’s see, how much you start crying, white boys!

Get it now? Peace.

P.S. sorry to my Asian brothers if I said something you don’t quite agree with, but I’m trying to debate on your behalf to make it more understood, from a black man’s perspective, if that makes sense.

Comment by Laden 04.13.07 @ 7:57 pm

ed gilbreath has written an excellent editorial on CT’s site about racism. really worth reading: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/aprilweb-only/115-44.0.html

Comment by marko 04.13.07 @ 10:36 pm

It cases like this, it’s not easy being Asian, and neither is it easy being white. Both sides suffer from embarrassment and shame. In hearing the cries from both sides, I feel the yearning for mutual understanding. Forgiveness and reconciliation is attainable. I know that Asians want at least acknowledgment of what we feel has hurt us. I also feel that what white people want is a recognition of their apology. The key is sincerity and a willingness to forgive, on both sides. I just blogged on this and it was very difficult to write about it but I know that we can all live in harmony and unity.



Comment by Kevin Sam 04.16.07 @ 10:02 pm

I just wanted to say thank you for being thoughtful and taking action during this incident. This was a real example of humble and responsible leadership.

Comment by Lon 04.17.07 @ 10:38 pm

[…] Amidst the controversy involving youth specialties’ public apology for an insensitive portrayal of Asian Americans (ymmarko’s gracious apology, Soong-Chan Rah’s article, Camy Tang - Asian/Christian/upcoming author’s 3rd perspective), I can’t help but wonder about Cho Seung-Hui’s cultural identity.  […]

Pingback by What is the cultural context behind Virginia Tech shooting? « In Search of Kingdom Living 04.19.07 @ 12:07 pm

Dear Mark,

My name is Sandy Lee Schaupp and I work with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a campus ministry and am a part of our Asian American Ministries. I just read an article from Today’s Christian and your apology. Thank you for your willingness to engage with Rev. Soong-Chan Rah and with this whole journey. I am moved by your willingness to see your mistake and the large steps you are taking to correct it. Thank you very much.

To be honest, last week was a very emotional and difficult week for me as a Korean American with the Virginia Tech tragedy. I just felt so much mourning for everyone involved and concerned for the way others would see and treat Koreans, having already experienced racism in this country. So, to read about your story today was great timing. It was very encouraging.

I read a comment on your blog from Helen Lee, an author of a recent book about growing healthy Asian Am. churches. I liked what she said about passing on what you’ve learned to other publishers. Wherever that is possible, we as ethnic minorities would be so blessed to have an advocate in you. There are ways, you as a white person have such greater hearing than we do as ethnic minorities. This would be a profound way that you could partner with us in our journey.

May God continue to walk with you with peace and joy in this learning journey. May God give you wisdom and grace as you are walking a challenging road. Thank you for your courage to step into this. I see you as partner, even though I’ve never met you!

May God’s blessings pour forth to you!

Sandy Lee Schaupp

p.s. Thank you, Laden, who identified himself as a “black dude”. I appreciate your advocacy as well. I think you’re right about the difficulty for us as Asian Americans with such few positive media images.

Comment by Sandy Lee Schaupp 04.27.07 @ 10:27 am

[…] Racial Reconciliation and Youth Specialties I came across this awhile ago (it is old news), but I wanted to post it anyway.  https://ysmarko.com/?p=1379  […]

Pingback by Racial Reconciliation and Youth Specialties « Mike At The Moment 06.15.07 @ 1:22 pm

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