I was so happy to discuss my book, Invisible with ESR Professor Emeritus Nancy Bowen.
ESR Professor Emeritus Nancy Bowen talks with Professor of Theology Grace Ji-Sun Kim about her new book, Invisible, and the experiences of Asian American women in the United States.
You can watch the conversation here:
Invisibility persists throughout the Asian American story. On the one hand, xenophobia has long contributed to racism and discrimination toward Asian Americans. On the other hand, terms such as perpetual foreigner and honorific whites have been thrust upon Asian Americans, minimizing their plight with racism and erasing their experience as racial minorities. Even more indiscernible in America’s racial landscape are Asian American women. The compounded effects of a patriarchal Asian culture and a marginalizing American culture are formidable, steadily removing the recognition of these women’s lives, voices, and agency.
Invisibility is not only a racial and cultural issue, but also a profound spiritual issue. The Western church–and its theology–has historically obscured the concerns of Asian Americans. The Asian American church relegates women to domestic, supportive roles meant to uplift male leaders.
In Invisible, Grace Ji-Sun Kim examines encounters with racism, sexism, and xenophobia as she works toward ending Asian American women’s invisibility. She deploys biblical, sociological, and theological narratives to empower the voices of Asian American women. And she shares the story of her heritage, her family history, her immigration, and her own experience as an Asian American woman. Speaking with the weight of her narrative, she proclaims that the histories, experiences, and voices of Asian American women must be rescued from obscurity. Speaking with the weight of a theologian, she powerfully paves the way for a theology of visibility that honors the voice and identity of these women. As Asian American women work toward a theology of visibility, they uplift the voiceless and empower the invisible, moving beyond experiences of oppression and toward claiming their space in the kin-dom of God.
“Combining moving personal narratives and social history, this timely book challenges anti-Asian racism and internalization of white norms that contribute to the invisibility of Asian Americans. It uses an intersectional approach to articulate a theology of visibility that decenters whiteness and offers a vision for our collective future. Written in an accessible way, this book can be used in classrooms, churches, and adult forums.” —Kwok Pui Lan, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
“Kim’s Invisible is an eloquent clarion call to steep American theology in the sufferings and pains and joys and hopes of Asian women. I most strongly recommend this book to all Americans, especially in the current anti-immigration climate.” —Peter C. Phan, Georgetown University
“In Invisible, Kim moves with deft sensitivity between concepts of invisibility and erasure, historic legacy and nuanced contemporary reflection, unearthing how a theology of visibility can help redefine the self-knowledge and understanding of Asian Americans and pave the path for new generations to embrace their story as an essential element of the American experience. In this season, love, hope, visibility, and unity matter.” —Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., president and founder of Rainbow PUSH Coalition and author of Keeping Hope Alive
“Invisible opens our eyes to the long history of racism, discrimination, and xenophobia that Asian Americans have faced and are facing. We need a theology of visibility to start embracing, welcoming, and loving one another. I highly recommend this book.” —Susan M. Shaw, professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies, Oregon State University
“This book is vital for churches to celebrate the essential role of Asian and Asian American women as leaders in a truly global Christianity, in which a tapestry of voices brings dignity to all.” —Todd M. Johnson, co-director, Center for the Study of Global Christianity, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
“Grace Ji-Sun Kim’s Invisible is as provocative as it is alluring. She draws on her own experiences and stories to unveil the hidden discrimination and racism faced by Asian Americans and how we can move toward a theology of visibility that is consequential during this time.” —Rev. Graham Joseph Hill, associate professor and principal, Stirling Theological College, Australia (University of Divinity)
About the Author
Grace Ji-Sun Kim was born in Korea, was educated in Canada, and now teaches in the United States. She is professor of theology at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana. She is the author or editor of twenty books, including Hope in Disarray (2020), Intersectional Theology (2018), and Planetary Solidarity (2017). She is a coeditor for the series Asian Christianity in the Diaspora. Kim is an ordained Presbyterian Church (USA) minister and writes for Sojourners, Wabash Center, Baptist News Global, and Feminist Studies in Religion, and has published in TIME, Huffington Post, Christian Century, US Catholic Magazine, and The Nation.