Dear Seminary Community,
As we mark one year of the global pandemic, one of the gravest consequences we must mourn in our country is the blatant racism and violence against those of Asian descent. While their stories do not always make the news, every day people of Asian descent are robbed of human dignity and life itself through discrimination, intimidation, and violence. The organization Stop AAPI Hate has documented over 2,800 firsthand accounts of this hatred in 2020. Among them is Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai American who died after being thrown to the ground; Noel Quintana, a Filipino American whose face was slashed from ear to ear on a subway; and an Asian family with young children who were stabbed by a man inside a Sam’s Club because he thought they were spreading the virus. Just yesterday, a man in Georgia shot and killed eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent.
Experiencing racism and even violence is not new for those of Asian descent in this country. But over the last year these events have intensified. Some attribute this to false narratives that blame Asians for the spread of COVID-19, but the deeper problem lies in the pervasiveness of white supremacy. And this is a sin that people of faith must unequivocally reject as an offense to God’s great love for all humanity.
These atrocities have left Asian Americans, including members of our seminary community, feeling very vulnerable. Many students have expressed to me that they feel invisible in our classrooms and even in our conversations about race. We strive to be a community in which every member feels a sense of belonging and holy communion with God and with one another. And yet we have more work to do to ensure that this is true for every person in our community. We belong to one another, and Christ calls us to stand alongside our siblings to resist hatred, fear, and racism in all its forms.
On April 23-24, the Asian American Program at Princeton Seminary is hosting an online conference called Lived Theology in Asian America: Race, Justice, and Politics in Transpacific Context. More information is available here. Registration is free, and I encourage you to attend and learn more about the rise of racism against Asian Americans, among other important topics. Also, these videos, news stories, columns, and websites can provide more information on this escalating crisis in our country.
We have a calling — each one of us, and collectively as a community of faith and learning — to condemn acts of racism and violence, to support members of our family who are experiencing its pain, and to work together for the flourishing of the whole human family.
And as always, the Office of Student Life, Chapel staff, and our counselors stand ready to be of service to any student who needs pastoral care.
M. Craig Barnes
President, Princeton Theological Seminary