By Michele Sigg–
On Saturday, April 17th, 2021, the Racial Justice Fellowship (RJF) hosted an evening of discussion on the topic of anti-Asian hate to learn more about the roots of anti-Asian racism. Our society has recently become aware of anti-Asian racism the form of violent attacks, mostly on elderly Asians. We first watched this balanced documentary (except for a couple of slanted comments….) that gave an overview of the history:
About a dozen people from St John’s and a couple of guests joined us for the discussion. Liren Ma, an Asian member of STJ’s and a Yale divinity student was our featured guest. The discussion that followed was irenic and honest. I think I can safely say that we all went home that night having learned a lot.
Here are a couple of Jennifer’s thoughts about the evening:
For me, one of the most disturbing aspects of the evening was hearing how Christians have contributed to the pain and alienation felt by some members of the Asian American community. The Church should be our greatest refuge, but for some, it is another place to be marginalized.
I was also saddened to hear that many Asian Americans feel the need to keep quiet about the discrimination they have suffered in order to get along in society. There are so many outside influences, including in the Church, trying to silence our voices. No one should ever have to suffer in silence.
Here is a brief article featuring Asian American Christian leaders: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/asian-american-churches-call-for-actions-beyond-prayer
For my part, I (Michele) was, once again, saddened and horrified by the systematic racism in the official history of the United States in the documentary’s coverage of the Chinese exclusion act of 1882 that forbade the entry of Chinese workers into the US, let alone the internment of one hundred twenty thousand Japanese Americans in concentration camps during WW2. Also, it was shocking to hear about how Asian women applying to immigrate–including married women– had to prove that they were not sex workers and had no intention to work as prostitutes in the US. There are no words for that pain… So now do we wonder about the stereotypes of Asian women that continue to inform the violent actions of some?
And then there are the terrible repercussions of Asian immigrants and Asian Americans being dubbed the “model minority” and the multiple other racisms that have been born of that, including anti-Black racism.
Another take away from this session for me was how often I do not know all my sins. The simple reason is that we are ignorant of all that we are complicit with by our actions or our inaction. So it is not excessive to say that while I may not act in racist ways intentionally, I am still involved in systemic racism because I participate in a racist system that, in other ways, benefits me. As a Christian, it is my responsibility to be faithful to Jesus by seeking to break the injustice in a system that perpetuates racism of any kind and I should help to create more just systems.
I pray that Jesus will open my eyes more and more to my sins, known and unknown, so that I may walk in the light and in fellowship with ALL God’s family, “from all nations and tribes.”
if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.I John 1: 7-10