I wouldn’t normally think to write a blog about bullying, but this time it’s personal. Last week a beautiful mixed-race Asian-Latino boy named Teddy Molina committed suicide in Corpus Christi, Texas because of bullying. I take it really personal because I am also Asian-Latino and I experienced mixed-raced racial taunts as a child. I especially take it personal because my son and daughter are mixed race and I must make sure that this never happens to them.
Teddy was a freshman in high school and he experienced intense racial bullying since junior high. His parents lodged more than a dozen complaints to his high school—all to no avail. The “wolf pack”—a group formed by a handful of athletes—continued to bully Teddy until it got so bad he was pulled out of school in March. This bullying caused Teddy’s suicide.
It is tragically ironic this murderous bullying took place in a city whose name, when translated, means the “Body of Christ.” Racial bullying of any stripe offends the deepest biblical principles of Christianity. There are many prominent biblical examples of interracial marriage and mixed race individuals, including Moses, Zipporah, and Gershom; Joseph, Asenath, Ephraim and Manasseh; Judah, Tamar, and Perez; Salmon and Rahab; and, Boaz, Ruth, and Obed. Obed was the grandfather of King David, the “man after God’s own heart” and the most famous king in all of the Old Testament. The Davidic line traces directly to Mary and Joseph and JESUS! Jesus, the King of Kings has at least four “Gentile” women and several generations of mixed race heritage in his genealogy. As a mixed race individual I feel like I’m in good company!
The story of Moses provides a powerful biblical example of God’s anger expressed towards those who oppose interracial marriage, and, by extension, the cross-cultural progeny of such marriages. Moses was arguably the most important spiritual leader in all of the Old Testament and he was married to a Midianite woman named Zipporah (Exodus 2:21-22). Their first-born son was mixed-race and his name was Gershom. We are later told in the book of Numbers(12:1-2) Moses’ siblings Aaron and Miriam criticized him because of his interracial marriage and used this as a basis to question his spiritual authority. Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he married a Cushite
2 “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the LORD heard this.
Bible commentators give several explanations for this passage. According to one interpretation, it is said that in calling Zipporah a “Cushite” (or in other translations, “Ethiopian”), Aaron and Miriam may have been taking a racist jab at her for being dark-skinned. They also could simply have been being racist against her because she was not an Israelite. In any event, the Bible is clear that God “heard this” and that he severely punished Aaron and Miriam for their spiritual disobedience and their racist slight (12: 9-13):
The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them. 10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”13 So Moses cried out to the LORD, “Please, God, heal her!”
There were serious consequences for being racist against Moses for his interracial marriage—“the anger of the LORD burned against them,” and Miriam was struck with leprosy. There must be serious consequences for the school officials who let Teddy Molina be bullied to the point of suicide. Something has got to change in Corpus Christi, Texas, and, for that matter, in all of America. Racial bullying, and bullying of all stripes has got to stop. What are we going to do about it?
Robert Chao Romero is a professor of Chican@ Studies and Asian American Studies at UCLA. He is also a pastor and founder of Christian Students of Conscience, a ministry which trains and mobilizes university students in issues of race and justice from a Christian perspective. His website can be found here. He is the author of The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940, and many other articles dealing with race and ethnicity in Latin America and the United States.
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