Voices of Color – Week #9

This is the ninth installment in our “Voices of Color” series.

As our nation’s attention is turned to the race-based oppression and privilege that plague us, many in the white community are seeking ways to stand in trustworthy solidarity with our siblings of color. We at the Maine Council of Churches, whose denominations, clergy and congregants are predominantly white, would like to offer an opportunity for white people of faith and good will to simply STOP—in contemplative, prayerful, humble silence—and LISTEN to the voices of people of color—to the truth, pain, judgment, and prophetic calls to action those voices are speaking. Each week this summer, we will publish a link to a short excerpt from a video, radio broadcast or podcast, along with some biographical information about the speaker. It is our hope that this spiritual discipline of listening will lead to transformative awareness and action.

Voices of Color – Week # 9
The Asian American Christian Collaborative
Statement on Anti-Asian Racism in the Time of COVID-19

The Asian American Christian Collaborative (AACC) seeks to encourage, equip, and empower Asian American Christians and friends of their community. They are committed to amplifying the voices, issues, and histories of Asian Americans in the church and society at large as inclusively as possible. They offer resources that contribute to the development and understanding of Asian American theology, preaching, identity, mental health, current events, history, arts, and beyond.  AACC is committed to collaboration across ethno-cultural contexts, political and socioeconomic lines, and theological traditions for the sake of faithfulness to Jesus Christ, solidarity with other ethnic and racial groups, public Christian witness, and the common good. In April, the AACC issued a statement on anti-Asian racism during the pandemic that garnered over 10,000 signatories. It reads, in part:

We, the undersigned, join together as Asian American Christians and community leaders to denounce the current rise in overt anti-Asian racism throughout our country. We call for an immediate end to the xenophobic rhetoric, hate crimes, and violence against our people and communities. We invite all Americans to join us in combating these contagions and work with us for the welfare of all. In the last two weeks of March 2020, Asian Americans have reported over 1,000 incidents of racism, and without mitigation, we expect that number to rise in the weeks ahead. Many of these were violent attacks against life and human dignity, and many more incidents have gone unreported. Furthermore, despite international consensus, public outcry, and increasing racism against Asian Americans, some of our nation’s leaders are intentionally choosing nomenclature for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), such as the “Chinese Virus,” and this is endangering the lives of more than 20 million Americans. Harmful tropes of “yellow peril” continue to be perpetuated by the news, within institutional and popular portrayals of our people, our food, and our customs as unsafe and unwelcome… We urge [faith leaders] to speak without ambiguity against racism of every kind. Faithful Christian witness requires anti-racist work, and silence only perpetuates the sins not addressed. This includes going beyond shallow acknowledgement of the most obvious incidents of racism to taking responsibility in confronting the longstanding tendencies of people to discount and dismiss the realities of racism. It also includes addressing the disbelief and disobedience of your constituents who continue to ignore members of the body of Christ who are in pain and under threat. Many of us Asian American Christians have stood against anti-Asian racism during prominent incidents in and out of the church over the years, and we now ask that you join us… [ You can click here to read the statement in its entirety ]

Recently, AACC President Raymond Chang interviewed Professor Russell Jeung (Chair of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University and author of At Home In Exile: Finding Jesus Among My Ancestors and Refugee Neighbors), Kathy Khang (Sojourners columnist and author of Raising Your Voice), and Helen Lee (essayist, author and publishing executive) about the statement and about Asian Americans’ experience of racism in this time of pandemic.

CLICK HERE to watch 5 minutes of highlights from that interview