July 24, 2015 - Thailand
Everyone in Thailand wants to be white. The Photoshopped models all have white skin, commercials on TV advertise “extra whitening” skin treatments. Girls with beautiful bronze skin think they are ugly. Well, I am a genuine #nofilter white person and let me tell you, light skin is not all that it’s cracked up to be. I’m on a team with five other people. All Asian. When I was first introduced to my team I honestly did not think much of the race factor. “I have plenty of Asian friends, sabai sabai (it’s fine, it’s fine),” I thought.
When we got to our site, I discovered very quickly that my teammates recognized and knew the names of foods that I did not, they understood the Asian accent better than I did, and most of them had used a squatty potty before. They look like they belong. They are on the continent of their ancestors. Not me. I began unconsciously comparing myself to them, which led me to view myself as incredibly stupid, too different, and caused me to hide behind them in a sense.
I eventually brought the issue to my team and to Jesus. I let Jesus take over my identity rather than my whiteness. I am different, I know. It’s blatantly obvious when Esther, Denise, and I help at a preschool and only I am asked to be in a group photo with visiting government officials. When no on asks me if I know any other languages. When strangers say I’m beautiful on days my face is breaking out and my hair is a mess. But it’s okay to be different.
Emily, a white woman on another team, pointed out that we may never fit in here completely but when people see us in the slums of Thailand, they know just by our skin color that we chose to live here.That is a testimony in itself. So when I walk down the street or go to school and hear people call out “Falang! Falang!” I remember that Jesus calls us to be different, and by learning about those differences, we are able to love each other. That is the Kingdom of God. It’s not wrong. It’s just different.
Written by Beth