By: Rev. Dr. Velda Love, Lead for Join the Movement Toward Racial Justice Campaign and Minister for Racial Justice
Sunday, January 22nd the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio was filled with members of Asian American communities. The gathering marked the end of the first day of a two-day street festival to celebrate Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California. This majority Asian American suburb is a cultural home and safe haven for the community that lives and works, celebrates and dances there. That safety and sense of home was devastatingly shattered when a lone shooter entered the ballroom and took the lives of 11 innocent people on a day meant to celebrate new beginnings.
The rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) continues a long history of anti-Asian discrimination and violence. It doesn’t matter if acts of racism or targeted violence are perpetrated by someone within one’s own community; the painful reality is that families are left to mourn and grieve, communities are scarred, and people of faith are called to respond with compassion and commitment.
Incidents against our siblings of Asian descent have occurred across the U.S. in New York, Atlanta, and California since 2020, when racist political rhetoric blamed China for the outbreak of Covid-19. The United Church of Christ continues to lament with and support AAPI congregations and communities as we join the movement to #StopAAPIHate, practicing racial justice that remains responsive to the needs of families and victims when hate crimes occur.
In this moment my heart aches and there are no words that come forth that feel like enough to soothe the souls in Monterey Park. Where there are no words, I pray we who believe in the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit will lean into the silence and hold space for healing, peace, and justice to surround our Asian American and Pacific Islander siblings.
See response from the UCC Officers here.
See also this response from the Asian American Feminist Collective, highlighting the connections between these tragic events, Covid and anti-Asian violence.
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