My full remarks on Yuli Gurriel and the MLB

I joined several others Asian American leaders to denounce the racist gestures and remarks made and an appeal to Yuli, the MLB and our nation to move toward healing and reconciliation. See the coverage from ABC7 here and my statement below:

November 1, 2017
My name is Rev. Tim Yee. I’m a Chinese-American pastor of the 100-old-year Union Church of Los Angeles, the oldest protestant church in downtown Los Angeles and one of the oldest churches in America started by people of Japanese descent.

We in the Asian American community are not “cry babies” or “sore losers” as some in social media would like to portray us regarding the Yuli Gurriel incident. We know that as Asian Americans we have often been far too silent on the racism endured in all the great cities of our nation. So we join together and are speaking today to invite Yuli, Major League Baseball and all Americans to help us move forward in our divided time.

This is a picture of my church member Hagi Kusunoki. Hagi and her late husband George were treated as enemies of the United States during WWII. Hagi is holding a bronze medal awarded posthumously to her husband for his brave service in the 442nd Battalion, rescuing 211 Texas Battalion American soldiers who were surrounded by Nazis and doomed to die. These Japanese Americans suffered over 800 casualties themselves while being outnumbered 4 to 1 by the Nazis in order to save these Texans. Hagi and George made incredible sacrifices for their country so that we would always remember the pain and injustice that racism can lead to.

So when 40,000 fans give a standing ovation to Yuli after being cleared to continue playing in the World Series, I think that Hagi’s story has been forgotten. For why would any good American cheer the overlooking of blatant racism against Asians when great Americans like Hagi and George have sacrificed so much so that our country could be united? It must be that good Americans in Texas, California and our whole nation have simply forgotten how much we have already suffered because of turning a blind eye to racism.

Win or lose tonight, we are asking Yuli Gurriel to help the Asian American community and our whole country to move forward by accepting our invitation to meet with us and learn more about the Asian experience in America. We are not saying Yuli is a bad person and in fact we believe he has an incredible opportunity to take something very bad and have something very good come out of it. In fact, I’d love to lead a standing ovation for Yuli Gurriel, not for sweeping racism under the rug, but for helping the Asian American community heal from this pivotal moment.

No matter who wins or loses tonight, the American people—and 40 million people who will be watching tonight—will be “losers” if we don’t move toward better racial understanding and ultimately reconciliation.

We want Yuli to help all of America to remember that we are better than this. This is bigger than baseball. This is our country. The future of our nation will not be decided by a seven game series but by the way day-in and day-out average Americans treat each other with respect and dignity. We can do better and we must do better if we are to live up to the values that our great nation aspires to uphold. Thank you.

Rev. Tim Yee

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