Response to Anti-Asian Violence
By Michelle L. Wallace
In the past five years, I have noticed a drastic uptick in not only the incidents of racism in our country, but in the boldness and severity of these incidents. We have seen people become emboldened by those in positions of power and influence to openly express their racism and hatred.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, one group has seen a dramatic rise in the occurrences of racism and violence: Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. In the past year, there has been a nearly 150 percent increase in reported instances of violence and racism toward this group (NPR), and “There have been 500+ hate crimes targeted at Asian people this year alone,” social media specialist Mark Kim wrote on Twitter. The incendiary rhetoric of politicians and others who perpetuate the belief that the Chinese are to blame for the virus that causes COVID-19 is directly responsible for this hatred and violence.
This week in Atlanta, Georgia, a white man went on a shooting spree at three different spas, leaving 8 people dead; 6 of them were Asian women. Law enforcement have speculated on his motives, one even going so far as to claim that the shooter was having a bad day and was trying to eliminate places of temptation for him. Regardless of motive, the fact remains that six women of Asian descent are dead at the hands of an angry white man. As Unitarian Universalists, we value the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings, so it is incumbent upon us to stand with our brothers and sisters in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities and support critical, immediate change in our society. If you want to find out more, visit StopAAPIHate.org and read their 2020-21 National Report. If you see dsicrimination in action, follow the American Friends Service Committee’s Dos and Don’ts for Bystander Intervention. We must do our part to put an end to white supremacy in all of its iterations. The violence and hate must stop, and we must be part of the solution!
BLACK LIVES MATTER and ANTI-RACISM
at Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Our siblings who are Black, Indigenous, and/or Persons of Color have been brutalized since the very inception ofthe North American colonies. The Declaration of Independence is lofty and beautiful, but its promises must be extended and fulfilled. Many believe that the Civil Rights movement eliminated injustice. In reality, it mostly drove racism underground. With our increasing interconnection through technology, it’s now obvious that systemic abuses and deadly violence are widespread. This has led to the Black Lives Matter movement. Finally, there is a national dialogue catching the attention of people who have not had to live with—or even been exposed to—this daily reality.
We Unitarian Universalists truly believe in our first moral principle: the inherent worth and dignity of all persons. In the past, we have been troubled to witness police brutality against our black and brown neighbors, but we now realize we have not taken sufficient action to remove the roots of this problem. We have not made the dismantling of systemic racist structures a priority. We no longer want to be silent, inactive, or unintentionally complicit.
On June 28, 2020, we at Mission Peak held a special congregational meeting to discuss anti-racism. We voted unanimously “to make Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression education and action a priority for the coming year,” and to fly a Black Lives Matter banner and put BLM information on our website.
ACTIONS ALREADY TAKEN
A number of our congregants have taken part in local Black Lives Matter demonstrations since the police killing of George Floyd, an innocent Black man, on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis.
We at Mission Peak have had book reading and discussion groups on a number of texts over the last several years:
Me and White Supremacy by Llayla Saad
White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
Daring Democracy by Frances Lappé and Adam Eichen
The Third Reconstruction by Rev. William Barber
Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Rosanne Dubnar-Ortiz
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Guest speakers have been invited, and we have taken offerings for their work:
Poor People’s Campaign
Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of California
Predictions, Prophecies, and Promises
The poet and author J. Mase III spoke to us about his experience as a Black transgender person and his book, And Then I Got Fired.
Not least, our interim minister Rev. Jo Green has been a guiding light in this work through her challenging sermons and classroom discussions.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
A COMMITMENT to continuing education and ACTION against racism and oppression.
A TOP PRIORITY of discovering racist ideas in ourselves and dismantling racist structures in society.
A COMMITMENT TO CONTINUE anti-racism and anti-oppression workshops and book readings.
A PLAN TO SEEK PARTNERS AND IDEAS from other faith communities and organizations, such as Black Lives Matter, The Poor Peoples’ Campaign, and Showing Up For Racial Justice. Other programs within our own Unitarian Universalist denomination are Allies for Racial Equity (ARE) and Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU). We recognize that Black, Indigenous and People of Color are the center of this movement: we simply offer to learn and support in every way we can.
May THE SPIRIT OF LOVE guide us in this sacred work of transformative healing and help reunite the human family.
Being Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Color has its own, distinct challenges and perils. But being a woman of color—and/or ALSO being on the LGBTQ+ spectrum—increases exposure to injustice, danger, and even death. Unitarian Universalism has long championed both women and LGBTQ+ inclusion, lifting these persons up into full ordination and denominational leadership. Here we hope you feel safe and welcomed, and you are invited to participate fully.