Black, Asian Christian Leaders Discuss Church’s Role In Tackling Racism

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A panel is broadcast live on Monday, April 5, 2021 from Apostolic Faith Church in Chicago. Video screenshot

CHICAGO (RNS) – In the summer of 2020, as the death of George Floyd shed light on racism and violence against black Americans, the Asian American Christian Collaborative walked for the lives of black people.

Months later, leaders of the black and Asian American churches involved in the march began planning a second event uniting their communities against racism.


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In the midst of planning the event, Black & Asian Christians United Against Racism, organizers learned that eight people had been shot and killed at Atlanta-area spas, including six women of Asian descent, and that the spotlight has turned to the recent explosion of violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as the scapegoats for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the wake of the surge in violence against Asian Americans … and as the Derek Chauvin trial unfolds over the murder of George Floyd, an event like this is needed more than ever,” Pastor said. Raymond Chang, President of the Asian American Christian Collaboration.

“But, more than this event, a commitment to a lasting partnership is necessary.”

Panelists from Black & Asian Christians United Against Racism, broadcast live Monday evening (April 5) from Apostolic Faith Church in Chicago, discussed the stories, struggles and contributions of each community and the importance of creating this partnership between they.

They included Charlie Dates, pastor of the Progressive Baptist Church; Soong-Chan Rah, professor at North Park Theological Seminary; and Waltrina Middleton, Executive Director of the Community Renewal Society, among others.

Pastor Raymond Chang, president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative, speaks during a panel titled Black & Asian Christians United Against Racism, broadcast live Monday, April 5, 2021 from Apostolic Faith Church in Chicago.  Video screenshot

Pastor Raymond Chang, president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative, speaks during a panel titled Black & Asian Christians United Against Racism, broadcast live Monday, April 5, 2021 from Apostolic Faith Church in Chicago. Video screenshot

In his remarks, the Rev. Otis Moss III, senior pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, recognized the “one thread” of racism that binds blacks and Asian Americans to the United States.

The 1854 California Supreme Court decision People v. Hall, who ruled that an Asian American could not testify against a white American, provided a model years later for the United States Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which ruled that the Constitution American did not extend citizenship to blacks. , says Moss. The 1871 Chinese massacre in California, one of the largest mass lynchings in US history, gave the “green light” to lynchings of blacks across the country, he added.

“Our oppression is linked, but also our liberation is linked at the same time,” he said.

The church is providing a model for what this release can look like, according to Moss. He cited the example of Los Angeles’ famous 1906 Azusa Street revival – led by black, Asian and Latino Christians – as proof that “the Spirit works in a way that white supremacy cannot control.” .

Panelists discussed how racism is experienced differently by men and women – and how black and Asian American women can find commonalities in the experiences of others.

“White supremacy has often treated us the same, and I think when women share their stories and experiences with each other and hear pain in other people’s stories as well as resilience in other people’s stories, we can step into a place of true solidarity with one another – solidarity that frightens white supremacy, ”said Juliet Liu, pastor of Life on the Vine Church in the suburb of Long Grove, Ill. .

They also addressed the tensions between black communities and AAPI and the ways the two have historically been pitted against each other.

Reverend Otis Moss III, senior pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, participates in a panel broadcast live Monday, April 5, 2021, from the Apostolic Faith Church in Chicago.  Video screenshot

Reverend Otis Moss III, senior pastor of the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, participates in a panel broadcast live Monday, April 5, 2021, from the Apostolic Faith Church in Chicago. Video screenshot

Gregory Lee, associate professor at Wheaton College, an evangelical Christian school in suburban Wheaton, Illinois, explained the “model minority myth” launched by white opponents of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

“We tried to play with power structures instead of pitting them against each other,” Lee said.

Many Asian Americans have realized that “we are used in this game to hold back blacks and browns,” he added. After the shooting in Atlanta, he said, they also realize how vulnerable the AAPI community is.

“Asians are increasingly looking to African American sources to see how they did it – what can we learn from them? ” he said.

Several speakers at Monday’s event highlighted a passage from the biblical book of the Ephesians saying their fight was not against each other – “not against flesh and blood” – but rather spiritual warfare.

A battle, they agreed, they would continue to fight together in both prayer and protest.


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“I think it’s a shame that we even have to ask this question why we need to care about anti-Asian racism or why we need to say that black lives matter. It is a sad situation that we have to discuss these things, ”said Gabriel J. Catanus, pastor of Garden City Covenant Church in Chicago.

“At the base, we are human beings. We carry the image of God, and God doesn’t just love human beings, he hates murder. If we are God’s people, that should also characterize us.

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