Over the last week I've been following various Asian American blogs regarding a recently published Zondervan/Youth Specialties skit book. The book included a skit that perpetuated some horribly racist stereotypes of Asian Americans. Soong-Chan Rah (professor at North Park and one of my authors) brought the issue to light and has been working with Youth Specialties and Zondervan to resolve the issue.
To the amazement of many, Zondervan and Youth Specialties have acted quickly and justly. They have frozen all copies of the book and intend to destroy all existing inventory. They are publishing a new edition replacing the offensive sketch and are offering to replace copies for anybody who has the original.
Most significantly, this weekend Mark Oestreicher (president of YS) posted a public apology on his blog, and the Skit Guys have also apologized. In cases like this of public sin and offense, apology and taking responsibility must be equally public. So I am very impressed with how fully they have responded and owned up to this whole situation. I sent Marko an e-mail earlier in the week, and I just got a personal response interacting with my message. He said that he's been grieving over the fact that Asian American kids may be present in youth groups where the skit is performed, and he is appealing to youth pastors out there who have the book to please, please not use the skit.
To me, this is a huge, significant contrast with the Rickshaw Rally VBS curriculum fiasco a few years ago, where the offending publisher basically stonewalled, dismissed and ignored the outcry from the Asian American church community. (See Soong-Chan's chapter in Growing Healthy Asian American Churches or Ed Gilbreath's Reconciliation Blues for more on the story.) Kudos to YS and Zondervan for a much more constructive approach for racial justice and healing. They have provided the church with a positive model of how to move forward.