One More Frog Down–dating and the type a preacher girl

I shared an awesome story on facebook recently about  a really classy guy I dated once who told me if he was going to buy me another meal on our next date, I’d better “wear less clothes.” Two things: I’ve been criticized for wearing too few clothes already as a pastor, and I got a lovely word of encouragement from my ever optimistic friend Ayanna: “One less frog to kiss!” Meaning my prince would show up eventually.

Yup. (more…)

Culture Clash: Why We (People of Color) Get Stuck At “They’re Bad.”

note: I’m doing a different one on POC and White people later. If you’re White, you’re welcome to eavesdrop, but let me get schooled by people of color this time around. You’ll get your turn to school me later. 🙂


I walked into my sophomore dorm room to see my college roommate sitting on her bed, holding a bowl of rice close to her face and shoveling the food into her mouth with her chopsticks (with great dexterity, by the way).

“Were you raised in a barn?” I asked. “You look like you’re eating out of a trough. Could you get that bowl any closer to your mouth?”

“At least I don’t eat with my hands,” she said in retort.

Fair enough. (more…)

Race Identity as accountability, not escape: reflections from a light-skinned anti-racist

I still feel a little silly when I get to the point in an anti-racism training where I say “I’m a victim of racism.” I think there’s two reasons for this:

1)      Most people of color shaped by American society have a pretty big stake in either “I made it on my own merits despite discrimination” or “I haven’t been affected by discrimination.”

2)      Look at me. I’m under no illusion that when I get on a plane people get nervous; they don’t. (Unless they’re sitting next to me. But that’s because they’re going to get less armrest space with me than with a supermodel.) These days I don’t even get searched by TSA all that much more frequently than the rest of you. I rarely get “you have almost no accent,” and even when I get “where are you from?” it’s out of curiosity rather than malice.

One of my best friends has recently raised with me his concern that I’m pretending to be something I’m not when I publicly proclaim my identity as a South Asian American*. After all, while I share a lot of the experiences of my darker skinned (and full-blooded) South Asian brothers and sisters and wrestle with the same identity issues of being South Asian and American, the way the world experiences me is as a White person unless they know me or see my name. (You can imagine the conversations I have to have with people when I show up not looking at all how they expected me to.) (more…)


Martha stood all of
This was twelve years back,
she already trembled slightly with age.
I was in my 20s
and prone to histrionics
which looked like righteous indignation
to the casual observer.
Well, I was in my 20s
and more prone to histrionics
which may have been righteous indignation
in the wake of 9/11.
And so I (and the API Disciples)
Asked my church
“to take an active stand (more…)

A pastor, a reluctant prophet, and someone who doesn’t want to be a trope walk down the street. (On letting go of pastoral identity for the health of the community and how the community may not love you for it)

I was walking down the street a week ago, when I passed a woman on the sidewalk. In retrospect, I’m impressed the ground did not crack beneath me; people a mile away who were having a perfectly pleasant day in that moment thought, “Woah! Why do I feel so totally bummed all of a sudden?” She didn’t make eye contact, and we had already passed before I remembered how I knew her, but the energy she radiated conveyed (a) anger with the universe for my existence in general and (b) low-grade fury that the fates had forced us to share this patch of concrete in particular.

I certainly had more than a few interactions with her over the years, although I wouldn’t say we were close. The reaction came because I wasn’t who I was supposed to be. She was the partner of a former congregant. And I hadn’t pastored right. And I suspect that injustice will never go away for her. (more…)

Code switching, hipster racism and inter-POC cultural misappropriation. (or, Aren’t you glad I didn’t get braids with extensions when I was 19?)

When I was 19 or so, I thought about getting braids. Braids with extensions. Braids with beads on the ends. “African Braids.”

“You’d look like a poser,” my mother said, and that was the end of that. (Admittedly, if that HADN’T been the end of that, further research into the cost of getting braids put in would have settled the issue almost as quickly—braiding, if you didn’t know, is a serious investment. Another place my Scottish and Indian heritage shines through—I am SUPER cheap. “Frugal,” my mother would quickly correct me.)

My mother was giving me a valuable lesson about cultural misappropriation fairly early in life: don’t take other people’s culture and use it without respect to its history and value and distinctness. Don’t use their culture like a costume. (more…)