This morning, I woke up to the horrific news of another mass shooting, this time at several Atlanta-area spas, this time stealing eight lives, including at least four Asian women. I’ve spent the day praying and processing — that makes it sound more tidy and put-together than it’s been. It was a messy mix of emotion of numbness, of rage, of frustration; texting with friends, trying to acknowledge and sit with my own feelings while trying to care for other friends and loved ones affected; of letting myself cry and feel the grief in my own body.
This hit home in a particular way today. I was supposed to be spending time in prayer as Carolyn and I prepare to welcome a biracial baby girl into the world soon. And it was: I was faced with the stark reality my Asian American kids have been and will be born into. Where a toxic mix of white supremacy, misogyny, purity culture, and gun culture can claim multiple lives and devastate multiple families, friend groups, and communities. Where we can be as committed to peace and justice and loving our neighbors as we can — and still be laid low by a complete stranger “having a bad day.”
It was also a reminder to me of the work I am called to: as a pastor, as a Christian, my prayer is — as we were just talking about this week at Christ City — for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done. One thing that looks like for me is for every person to be seen and loved and honored as one made in the image of God. It is to do whatever is in my power, in whatever sphere God has given me to steward, to leave the world a better place than I found it, especially for those who will come after me — that includes dismantling systems of “white supremacy, misogyny, male hegemony, fetishization of Asian women, anti-Asian hate crime and violent racism” (per my friend Pastor Aaron Cho) and living a better alternative.
A couple more thoughts (that I’ll share): First, words matter. The anti-Asian violence did not start this last year (as any Asian American or anyone who knows anything about Asian American history can attest), but it was undoubtedly exacerbated by words from the previous occupant of the White House, who treated Asians as a punch line, referring to COVID-19 as “the Kung Flu” and “the China Virus” even as recently as … the night of the shooting. Per Stop AAPI Hate, nearly 3,800 incidents were reported between March 2020 and February 2021, higher than the previous year’s tally of 2,800. Moreover, women made up 68 percent of reports.
Second, for my AAPI family: I hope you’re able to find your spaces and communities of healing, if you haven’t already. We experience and imbibe these traumas, often without fully being aware of it, often feeling the need to just keep being productive. But we weren’t made to skip past deep communal pain. If I can be a resource or a connection in any way, please let me know.
I’m grateful for the texts and messages I received during the day from friends. I was able to spend some time tonight processing with some AAPI members of my church family. We shared inchoate, incomplete, and sometimes incoherent thoughts, feelings, and experiences. We prayed for the families and loved ones of those whose lives had been stolen. And, as it is St. Patrick’s Day, I closed with an adaptation of the Breastplate of St. Patrick, a prayer that hit a different way today, a prayer applied today for our community:
Christ shield us today against wounding. Christ with us, Christ before us, Christ behind us, Christ in us, Christ beneath us, Christ above us, Christ on our right, Christ on our left, Christ when we lie down, Christ when we sit down, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of us, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of us, Christ in the eye that sees us, Christ in the ear that hears us.
#StopAsianHate #StopAAPIHate #HateisaVirus