Nikki Toyama-Szeto is executive director of Evangelicals for Social Action at the Sider Center of Eastern University.
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To My Evangelical Brothers
AS AN EVANGELICAL woman in leadership, I’m grateful for the good intentions of many white evangelical men in leadership. In the spaces where I move, many well-meaning folks are trying to be supportive of women, gender minorities, and people of color. They’re trying to be generous with the privileges their gender or race may give them.
While I’m grateful for the heart behind these attempts at support, in many evangelical and other Protestant circles, these kind intentions often perpetuate the dynamics they mean to discard. A speaker, while introducing me, tried to help by saying, “What she’s saying is really important, you should listen to her.” Though it was a kind thought, he maintained his position of power by establishing himself as an authority over my content.
Women's History Month: Choosing to Opt-In
My difference catches me off-guard. Entering into new situations, I’m just being myself — not suspecting anything, doing the things that I do — when an odd, slightly off comment, a stray remark makes me realize that the person across from me is not interacting with me. Instead, they are interacting with a perception of who they think people like me are: Asian, woman.
And usually that perception does not include “leader.”
I’m different sounding. I’m different looking. I’m different leading.
As a leader, one question has helped me try to stay in my sweet spot and stick to my true voice, even when it’s different from those around me. What is the unique joy that I bring to God’s heart? When I feel the blister forming from too many frictional interactions, it’s this question that takes me back to my center.
Embracing the differences God gave me to steward, to shelter in my body, I continue on, knowing that perhaps for someone, somewhere, this will be a good fit.