By Mennonite Church USA Women in Leadership Steering Committee
Mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15 b
On March 16, 2021, a 21-year-old white man shot eight people, seven were women and six were of Asian descent.
We mourn the loss of people made in the precious image of God. As a people called to reconciliation and peace, we denounce the violence committed in Atlanta, Georgia, and stand in solidarity with Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) people who increasingly are the targets of hate crimes. We denounce the racialized murder in Atlanta. We believe these murders resulted from white supremacy, the festishization of Asian women and patriarchal church culture. These interrelated oppressions are deadly and dangerous. The gun culture in our society adds to the escalation of deadly violence.
We recognize that this violence and harassment is embedded in a long history of exclusionary laws and in U.S. imperialism around the world. The historical bigotry formed a culture of objectification and fetishization of Asian women. For centuries, AAPI people suffered under “whites only” immigration policies, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Japanese internment camps during World War II. AAPI people are often invisible in the conversation concerning racial justice and bear the weight of a “model minority,” a stereotype that has put a burden on the Asian community. The effects of racist policies and ingrained bigotry have scarred those we love in and outside the Mennonite church.
Hate crimes against AAPI rose dramatically in the United States throughout 2020 and 2021. This historic racism continues today in the form of anti-Asian slurs to describe COVID-19 and animosity aimed at AAPI people who are falsely assumed to be carriers of the virus. Stop AAPI Hate, a West Coast-based collective formed in the wake of the pandemic, documented more than 3,800 hate crimes toward Asian Americans in the past year.
For centuries, AAPI people have been gifted leaders, pastors and community members, who are essential to the church of Christ. May their words, work, languages, wisdom and leadership be honored as central to our identity.
As Mennonites, we call the church to the work of God’s reconciling love in Jesus Christ, work that calls us to stand as one church, unified against hate speech, harassment and degradation of our AAPI siblings. When one part of the body suffers, all suffer with it. 1 Corinthians 12:26
The Mennonite Church continues its commitment to dismantling racism in all forms and to freeing the world from the grip of white supremacy, sexism and hate. By God’s grace, we move toward this wholeness and peace with intention and resolve.
We affirm the Mennonite Church USA statement on Anti-Asian Racism and commit to follow the leadership, vision and wisdom of organizations and communities that are leading us in the work of dismantling anti-Asian racism.
MC USA supports and centers congregations and organizations that are doing the hard work of racial justice. As part of these efforts, MC USA awarded a $2,000 Justice Grant to Peace Mennonite Church in Claremont, California. Peace Mennonite Church has partnered with ReconciliAsian to continue to address the growing anti-Asian racism the AAPI community is facing. Together, they will provide workshops on trauma and resilience this spring and summer.
MC USA statement on anti-Asian racism and COVID-19
ReconciliAsian is a peace center in Los Angeles that equips leaders in Korean and Asian American churches and communities to serve in ways that promote unity, justice and peace toward reconciliation.
Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) is an assessment tool that measures intercultural competence – the ability to engage effectively and appropriately with people who are different than us. There are several qualified administrators throughout MC USA.
Roots of Justice works to seek the liberation of all persons from oppression, by providing strategies and tools for educating, organizing and renewing persons, institutions and systems.
The Statement on Anti-Asian Racism in the Time of COVID-19 from the Asian American Christian Collaborative provides further perspective and background on the history of anti-Asian racism within the United States.