Last night, America’s Got Talent crowned a new champion. This champion won $1 million and was given a show in Las Vegas. This champion hails from Japan in the form of Kenichi Ebina. What is his act? Well, if you have not seen him perform, I won’t spoil it for you. Plus, I am not sure I could describe exactly what he does. All I know is, he is very good at what he does.
I did not keep up with AGT this year, but I did tune in from time to time in order to watch the local guy Jimmy Rose. Rose finished third and represented himself and his small-town community well. I was impressed with his high finish. Though I did not keep up with this very popular show, I cannot help but notice the countless hateful and even racist remarks from some local folks that I know and love. Most in southeastern Kentucky (the area where Jimmy Rose [and I] are from) are frustrated that an American did not win America’s Got Talent. What most of them mean is that an American–looking person did not win. They are angry that Rose, a “good-ole boy” who served in the military and works in the coal mines, did not win. There are three obvious problems with these complaints:
1. Nationality has nothing to do with this show. I didn’t hear anyone complaining about Ebina competing in AGT. So, don’t complain about Ebina winning. It is bold and simple racism to complain that Ebina should not have won because he is of Japanese descent. “But Ebina isn’t an American citizen!” Good point. He is here on a visa. However, this coincides with AGT rules and regulations regarding eligibility. Ebina had a right to compete and win this competition. But even more specific, as Christians in the public square of social media and the blogosphere, this kind of thinking should be far from us as God has commanded us to go to the nations, not shun them. The message of the gospel is one of reconciliation, not alienation (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18, 20; Col. 1:21-22). This racist mind-set is anti-missions and truly anti-Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20; Rev. 5:9; 7:9).
2. Culture and lifestyle has nothing to do with this show. What I mean by this is that just because Jimmy Rose or others served in the military, are good family men/women, love their communities, or want to help others does not mean they will win this contest. This show is designed to bring out the best talent in America for the purpose of entertainment as well as jump-starting many careers. Granted, I was rooting for Jimmy Rose because he is local and he does seem to carry himself in a respectful way and he has a humble demeanor, but let’s just be honest; watching these men and women via TV tells us absolutely nothing about their character. Indeed it is very noble, courageous, and honorable to serve our country in the military. But this should not be a factor in whether someone wins a competition. And it wasn’t.
3. The most talented man won. The biggest problem with ardent objections against Ebina’s victory is that he proved himself to be the most talented of all the performers. America and the judges, as flawed as both of these groups are, saw that. Video evidence indicts the claim “that Japanese guy didn’t deserve to win.” Please. But, just in case you are not convinced or satisfied with Kenichi Ebina’s victory, I have included four of his AGT performances below. You just can’t deny his talent.
So, let’s all calm down, take a look at what we are thinking and saying, and realize that while racism has historically plagued “good-ole country boys,” it has no place in the body of Christ (see Eph. 2:11-22). And if you get to this point, maybe you will be able to enjoy and appreciate the “dance-ish performances” of Kenichi Ebina. They are simply too cool to ignore.