A Call for Solidarity, A Letter from the Undersigned Faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary to Our Students
April 6, 2021
(signers to this statement do not represent the Seminary or the faculty as a whole)
We, the undersigned faculty, join with the Asian American Program and President Craig Barnes in decrying the increasing acts of violence against Asians and Asian Americans throughout our nation. We grieve the injustices committed against these beloved members of God’s family, not only in the neighborhoods around us, but also on our own campus.
These targeted acts of hatred have increased at an alarming rate over the course of this past year. Approximately 3,800 hate incidents have been reported at Stop AAPI Hate and yet Asian and Asian American invisibility continues. It has taken repeated acts of violence — against the elderly, other members of the AAPI community, and now six Asian American women in Atlanta — for the media to spotlight this in mainstream news. This long neglect compounds the Asian American community’s pain. And even after rallying cries in the aftermath of the Atlanta shootings, violence and indifference persist. Sadly, this violence is in continuity with historical patterns in the United States. It is a history that includes systematic exclusion, lynchings, labor and internment camps, deportations, along with daily microaggressions.
We recognize that our campus is not immune to these broader social dynamics. We grieve that for many years now we have not heard or heeded our own students’ stories, both in our classrooms and on the wider campus. We acknowledge the important work of our antiracism task force and training. At the same time, we grieve the ways that Asian and Asian American students experienced erasure within those processes, and that their voices were not adequately represented. For example, the student panel within the training modules did not include a single Asian American perspective. We have heard from many of our Asian and Asian American students that sometimes even the training reinforced their invisibility. We as faculty confess our complicity in this ongoing reality of marginalization. The effect of so many years of invisibility is a double erasure of our Asian American community, an erasure effected by racism itself, and an erasure effected by the implicit message that even in our shared antiracism work our Asian American students — their stories, their lives — do not matter.
We repent of this erasure and commit to learning more about the historical and ongoing problem of discrimination against the Asian and Asian American community. We commit to engaging in antiracist efforts in our classrooms and the wider Seminary that give specific, careful attention to the lives and experiences of Asian and Asian American communities. Furthermore, we will consider how we marginalize AAPI voices in our syllabi and classrooms. We will critically investigate the ways in which our policies and structures perpetuate anti-Asian bias, and strive for meaningful reform. We commit to becoming more attentive to our Asian American students’ unique contexts and experiences, and to reflect on ways that we can provide better mentoring and care. We commit to seeking better representation in both the faculty and administration.
We remember and celebrate the Asian Americans who worked with Native, African, and Mexican Americans to desegregate schools, who joined coalitions in Black freedom struggle to found ethnic studies departments, and who worked side by side with César Chávez’s farm workers movements. More recently, they have supported Black Lives Matter movements from Ferguson to the George Floyd marches. Asian American Christians have issued national statements for racial justice and organized for it on our own campus. We cannot allow White supremacy to divide us in the struggle for a comprehensive justice for all.
We therefore embrace the powerful vision of solidarity expressed in Rev. Jesse Jackson’s statement and by global leaders during the worldwide vigil for the victims of the Atlanta shooting. We invite you to join with us.
Members of the Current Faculty
Kenneth G. Appold
Michael A. Brothers
Sally A. Brown
Nancy Lammers Gross
Y. Joy Harris-Smith
Jay-Paul M. Hinds
Elaine T. James
William Stacy Johnson
Cleophus J. LaRue
Bo Karen Lee
Gordon S. Mikoski
Paul E. Rorem
Mark S. Smith
Mark Lewis Taylor
Sonia E. Waters
Richard Fox Young
Linked is a resource list on anti-Asian racism prepared by Dr. David Chao and the Asian American Program office, in case it is helpful for your ongoing research. We also invite you to participate in any sessions of the upcoming conference that the Asian American Program is hosting on April 23-24, called Lived Theology in Asian America: Race, Justice, and Politics in Transpacific Context. More information is available here. Registration is free, and as President Barnes put it in his recent email to the Seminary community, we "encourage you to attend and learn more about the rise of racism against Asian Americans, among other important topics." We'd like to highlight for you the talk by Dr. Melissa Borja as well as the Fireside Chat with Jonathan Tran and Craig Barnes (per below) and hope to see many of you there.
Friday April 23
Session Three | 10:30 A.M. EST
Virulent Hate: Stories of Anti-Asian Racism and Asian American Resistance During COVID-19
Dr. Melissa Borja
Friday April 23
Session Seven | 2:30 P.M. EST
Fireside Chat with Jonathan Tran and Craig Barnes about race, the church, and Asian America.
Dr. Jonathan Tran and President M. Craig Barnes
And a note here for our faculty colleagues, as an FYI: as you may notice, a new hyperlink was added in the second paragraph of the letter (under "targeted acts") since a New York Times article was just released over the weekend giving some important statistics on the acts of violence against the AAPI community; these acts are generally undercounted and underreported, as the article explains.
Lastly, we encourage all of you to consider these one-hour bystander intervention trainings, so that this recent tragedy in NYC does not repeat itself around us. You can sign up for 1) bystander training to support our vulnerable siblings, and/or 2) harassment training if you yourself fear becoming a victim of these acts of violence.
Thank you for your attention to these important matters! God bless you during this holy Easter season.