On March 16, 2021, a White gunman shot and killed eight human beings in Atlanta, Georgia. Six were women of Asian descent. We honor their lives by naming them: Daoyou Feng, 44; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Sun Cha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Yong Ae Yue, 63. This mass shooting comes after a year-long assault against the Asian American community in which racist political rhetoric during the pandemic has put a bulls-eye on the backs of many Asian Americans. Asian American women have borne the brunt of this racialized marginalization and violence partly because of a long history of the objectification and sexualization of Asian women. These recent events and this past year tap into a history going back to the nineteenth century of anti-Asian racism, exclusion, mass incarceration, and hate.
We lament the destruction and marginalization of God’s image bearers. We remember the prophets of old who proclaimed, “Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). As followers of Jesus Christ, who taught that the kingdom of God is a kingdom of righteousness, we believe that justice is central to the gospel and to God.
During the pandemic, the 3,800 reported hate incidents against Asian Americans have taken an emotional and psychic toll upon the Asian American community. From the students of Asian descent at Princeton Theological Seminary, we have heard many stories of sleeplessness, nightmares, panic attacks, emotional breakdown, existential hollowness, terror in leaving the apartment (for mundane tasks), and above all, anger.
Many Asian Americans are angry that it takes a mass shooting to make visible the plight of Asians in America. The Center for Asian American Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary unequivocally condemns all acts of hate and violence against Asian Americans. We call upon Christian churches of all kinds to speak out against racism and misogyny in all its forms, especially against the Asian American community during these fraught times. We urge Asian American pastors to address the issue of racial justice for Asian Americans from the pulpit. We encourage Asian Americans to seek help and emotional support from their communities during this period of prolonged social isolation and racial violence.
Come Holy Spirit, we ask for your healing and reconciling power!
Center for Asian American Christianity
Princeton Theological Seminary
Editor’s note: In July 2021, this story was updated to reflect the Asian American Program’s renaming to the Center for Asian American Christianity.