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'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

How I answered the question would prove crucial to addressing racial divides in our D.C. neighborhood.

Sometimes, the most important step you can take to bless your city is what you do not do: not jump to conclusions; not buy into gratuitous news stories, not generalize; not indulge or perpetuate careless opinions and prejudices. As wonderful it is to be pro-active on behalf of a city, we should never forget the importance of personal postures like self-control, fairness, open-mindedness, and good judgment. Even in the face of tragedy, these inward qualities allow us to see how ridiculous it is to assume every person of one race is hostile toward every person of another.

And so, returning to my conversation with my daughter: After a long, very pregnant pause, I stooped down to her and said, "Sweetheart, I don't know why people steal stuff from us. But thankfully there's nothing that we own that we can't live without." She took time to parse out what I had said, and when she grasped its meaning, firmly nodded her head.

We left those shoes where they lay, and we didn't look back.

Peter Chin is the husband of a courageous cancer survivor, father to four children, and pastor of an inner-city church in Washington, D.C. He writes at PeterWChin.com. Follow him on Twitter@peterwchin.

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'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

'Daddy, Why Do People Steal from Us?'

How I answered the question would prove crucial to addressing racial divides in our D.C. neighborhood.

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Displaying 1–5 of 5 comments

Steve Skeete

January 21, 2013  4:23pm

What would be wrong pastor Chin, in telling your daughter that there is a selfishness within men that drives them not only to steal but to do things that hurt others, and that selfishness in called sin? Racism is also an only a by-product of that same condition. When you told her you did not know were you telling her the truth pastor Chin?

yvette moore

January 19, 2013  10:18am

Hmm. I know there were issues between Koreans and Blacks in NYC in the 1980s and in LA around the Rodney King unrest, but I really haven't heard of anything since that time. In NY one incident involved a Korean store owner slapping a kid allegedly misbehaving and the community boycotting the store. That's about it. I do see Korean stores all over Black neighborhoods and doing well. If the relationships were really bad, Koreans would set up shop in other neighborhoods with nicer neighbors. As for the thefts, if you talk w/your nonKorean neighbors, I'm sure you'd learn you weren't the only ones being robbed. Robbers want stuff, period. They really aren't nationalistic about who they steal from. In the 1990s, I can't tell you how many times thieves broke the glass out of my black-owned car & took my stuff. I even had a Black friend who just didn't lock his car doors. He said the alarm would still go off when thieves opened the door and he wouldn't have to pay for expensive new glass.

Sita Henderson

January 18, 2013  12:29pm

You speak from the Father's heart. Thank you for choosing not to pass on a legacy of 'prejudice' to your daughter. Racism has always been an issue of the heart, a heart of darkness, not an issue of colour. I know all too clearly what it is like to be paintbrushed with stereotyped assumptions about my character based on my ethnicity or gender as an Indo-Trini-Canadian woman. Instead you chose to turn the focus from the temporal to what is eternal. Your loving perseverance will be what breaks through the prejudice. May you always see people through God's eyes which sees straight through to the heart and its need.

Patricia Pope

January 17, 2013  3:01pm

And yet, we assume the petty theft of things like clogs couldn't happen in other neighborhoods? I've seen a lot of petty vandalism and theft in affluent and middle-class suburbs, both of which I've lived in. But it's a delusion that many people live with, thus the outcry when crimes like mass shootings, kidnappings, armed robberies, etc. happen in certain areas, we hear, "That stuff doesn't happen HERE." Well, it just did. Now what? I think it speaks more to the human condition. That is not to dismiss the very real components of race, class and culture, but to acknowledge that a lot of issues have a lot to do with the human heart. How it gets manifested may change from one context to another, but we are all fallen creatures.

bennett willis

January 17, 2013  12:37pm

My daughter lives in the same neighborhood (Deanwood) as Pastor Chin. She has experienced some of the same problems that he has. She likes the neighborhood because it IS a neighborhood. People know who lives there and look out for their neighbors. We have visited her there--and were a minority. I hope things go well for him.

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