This timely article was written by Brittany Grimes of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies and published in Christian Citizen. Longtime friend and colleague from the Board of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Curtis Ramsey-Lucas is the editor of this outstanding publication.
We are better together when we can stand in solidarity for justice. In the past year, the Asian American community has spoken out against the violence that has threatened their livelihood and safety. In 2020, the New York Police Department reported a 1900% increase in hate crimes motivated by anti-Asian discrimination and STOP AAPI Hate received more than 2,800 reports on anti-Asian racism and violence.
On Tuesday, six women of Asian descent were killed at three spas in the Atlanta area. Eight people in all were killed. In recent weeks, over 20 assaults have occurred in the San Francisco Bay area.
One such assault near Oakland’s Lake Merritt resulted in the death of 75-year-old Pak Ho. In a recent Facebook post, Rev. Jim Hopkins, Pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church in Oakland said, “After a string of violent attacks like the one on Mr. Ho, many members of our community are living in fear. As a society, we need to do better. We need to ensure that all live here in safety.”
“These attacks show that we need to do a better job of ensuring the safety of all, particularly our most vulnerable community members,” said the Interfaith Council of Alameda County in a recent statement. “They show that we need to do a better job of combating racism. They show that we need to do a better job of teaching our children and providing them with positive alternatives to violent behavior. We call on the faith communities of our county to lead the way in pursuit of these essential goals.”
The model minority myth that stereotypes Asian Americans as model citizens or high on the socio-economic ladder, masks the realty of the income inequality gap within the Asian American community and discourages efforts to take seriously experiences of discrimination and racism. It is beyond time to show greater concern for xenophobia and anti-Asian hate crimes.
“While there are no easy solutions, we know our power is rooted in our communities, the relationships we build, and the power we collectively grow together,” said Stanley Pun, co-director, AYPAL. “That cannot happen without investment in resources for healing, justice, and accountability; proactive relationships building in community efforts grounded in intervention and prevention; and resources from cross-cultural education and relationship building, which is not served with a greater police presence.”
“It is up to us to keep our communities accountable,” notes Lai Wa Wu, policy and alliance director, Chinese Progressive Association. “We must work together across cities, do the work to engage in the tensions, condemn anti-Asian racism with folks in our communities without being anti-Black, and fight for the resources we all need. The choice is ours. Let’s imagine what real safety could look like for our people and build the future we want to see—one that is grounded in accountability, justice, and love for each other.”
Recent hate crimes against Asian Americans demonstrate a glaring truth that racism is more than a Black and white issue. It is the effect of white supremacy that pits racial groups against one another while sustaining the white racial hierarchy. When people of color can come together to stand in solidarity and know abundance exists, we can overturn systems and struggles that make us believe otherwise. When everyone can rally together to dismantle white supremacy, we can bring liberation and equity to all.
When you see hate, combat it with love to bring justice. If you hear cries of violence, rise in solidarity to support movement into liberation. Do not be so concerned with your personal problems of the day that you forget to also extend care to your neighbor. Get to know your neighbors to strengthen community connection, harmony, and safety. Join with others to dismantle stereotypes, myths or misconceptions that prevent us from seeing each other’s humanity. May our hopes meet our actions in being an ally to those who need it.