by Milton Fujii
It’s been a great blessing to me personally to participate in the Diversity Ministry Team. One of the main goals of this group is to provide a safe place for exploring issues that are societal is scope but that touch us in deeply personal ways. As we’ve talked about how we, as individuals and as a church community, can affirm the full spectrum of values, abilities, personalities and physiologies that together define humankind, I have been led to examine my own sense of self—how I view my identity and how I think I am seen by others.
Some time ago I realized—to my surprise—that virtually every day of my life I think about being Asian-American. The fact is, my identity is inextricably linked to my race. In a perfect world, this might not be so—but in the society into which I was born, it is a reality. Whether I’m riding on a BART train, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or just walking down the sidewalk, I am usually conscious of being Asian—and, for me, this equates to a constant feeling of being “different.” I suspect that this is a common experience among people of color, LGBT people, immigrants, people with disabilities, and others whose characteristics or circumstances don’t conform to the dominant American culture.
In seeking to honor diversity we strive to recognize the feelings of being different that many individuals in our society live with as a fact of life. Our quest is not to eliminate these feelings but to accommodate them in all that we do. We strive to be more aware, more sensitive and more accepting, not only of the differences among us, but of the sense of difference that is an integral aspect of self-identity for many members of our society.
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