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I look forward to preaching at Christ Congregational Church in Silver Spring, MD on Sunday May 16, 2021 to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month. Please join me if you are able.

The AAPI community have experience enormous amount of hate and racism during this pandemic. It is important that we stop the hate and move towards love.

Love is a choice and an action. Something which we need to participate in every day.

I hope you will all join in choosing love everyday.

https://www.facebook.com/events/300557981516728/

You can visit Christ Congregational Church website for more information. Please join me!

You can now view the worship and my sermon on Facebook Live.

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Read my daughter’s column to learn more about AAPI Hate crimes

Reflections on March 16

OPINIONELISABETH SOPHIA LEE  |  MARCH 24, 2021iPeople take part in a rally against hate and confront the rising violence against Asian Americans at Columbus Park in the Chinatown section of the Manhattan borough of New York, on Sunday, March 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

As I struggled with understanding the terrible events happening within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community over the last year, I found myself writing down my thoughts, an outlet I frequent a lot. The more I wrote down my emotions, the more I felt I needed to speak out. For the first time, it feels like a spotlight is being shone on the AAPI community. We cannot remain silent any longer; our stories need to be shared and heard.

The headlines I’ve read in the past 365 days have been abhorrent and despicable. The elderly are just now getting vaccinated, deeming it safe for them to leave their houses. Now, they fear for their lives because of the rise in hate crimes.

When I imagine my own grandparents and family members in that position, my eyes begin to well. It is heartbreaking to know that people have to be murdered in order for attention to be brought on anti-Asian racism.

Our community is, and has been, hurting and angry. For too long, our experiences have been suppressed, gaslighted, silenced and talked over. As I dealt with guilt for vocalizing these issues, I reminded myself that the AAPI community is begging for basic human rights. So why are people reacting as if we’re asking for a tall favor?

The past two weeks have been overwhelming, to say the least. Through social media posts, I have read the exact thoughts I’ve suppressed for most of my life. For too long, racism and misogyny toward AAPI and AAPI women, especially, have been normalized. I have heard stories so similar to my own that I hadn’t labeled them as “racist” encounters until recently.

This realization has been so overwhelming that I have broken out into tears on walks, during class, during my meals, and during my meetings. I cannot focus on schoolwork, and I feel like I have no self-control with my emotions due to the trauma committed against our AAPI community.

Throughout my life I have been an outcast, called racial slurs and publicly fetishized to my face. I have been told to “go back to North Korea” and “your lunch smells weird” countless times. People have mocked the shape of my eyes and have asked if I “could even see.” I’ve been told, “You are so pretty for an Asian” and, “I’m actually really into Asians.”

“It is heartbreaking to know that people have to be murdered in order for attention to be brought on anti-Asian racism.”

These comments are both old and new. You never can truly understand the emotional weight those words carry until years have passed and those are the only conversations you can recall from elementary school, middle school, high school and college.

To my AAPI friends: I hope and pray that you digest the news at your own pace and in your own timing. When our institutions and organizations do the bare minimum, or fail to provide us support, know that I am here to listen and talk with you.

To my non-AAPI friends: I ask that you educate yourselves by listening to our stories and donating and supporting our businesses, publications and organizations. Share resources on your platforms no matter how small or large your audience is. Call out racist remarks and microaggressions because when you fail to stand up, it is only further normalized. Check up on your Asian American friends — ask us what you can do, how we are feeling, but also give us space if we need it. It is one thing to see your outward support on social media, but it is another to really feel it through a text, a call or a meeting.

We need allies and we need support and solidarity. Because as much as I know AAPI have the strength to tackle this issue alone, given the colonialism, sexism and racism that is so deeply rooted in the country we live in, we can’t.

Elisabeth Sophia Lee is a second-year undergraduate student at Cornell University, where she studies human biology, works in a nutrition lab, is on the executive board for Cornell Undergraduate Research Board and CHAARG, a national women’s health and wellness organization, and is a dancer with the Impact dance troupe. She is the author of Mother Daughter Speak co-written with her mother, Grace Ji-Sun Kim, and works as an intern at Osmosis – Knowledge Diffusion.

My piece for the Christian Century

The Atlanta shootings have awakened a ferocious anger and grief among Asian Americans

It’s about time.by Grace Ji-Sun KimMarch 19, 2021photo of protesters against anti-Asian hateVigil for victims of anti-Asian hate held in New York City’s Union Square on March 19, 2021. Photo by Andrew Ratto on Flickr (Creative Commons).

Delaina Yaun, the mother of a 13-year-old son and an 8-month-old daughter, had a date with her husband Tuesday afternoon at a spa outside Atlanta, Young’s Asian Massage. Soon after they arrived, Yaun was shot dead. So were Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, and Paul Andre Michels. A gunman had attacked the business. In total, he killed eight people at three spas and critically injured another. Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue were also killed. Six of the victims were of Asian descent. Seven were women.

The Atlanta killing spree has provoked something enormous, something untamed from within the Asian American community: a kind of ferocious anger, exasperation, horror, and desperation that have long been dormant in our collective consciousness. The feelings we hadn’t given ourselves the space to feel—the capacity to grieve our people and reckon with our experiences as Asian Americans—have now inevitably, painfully surfaced. And it’s about time.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim

@Gracejisunkim

Grace Ji-Sun Kim teaches theology at Earlham School of Religion and is the author of Embracing the Other: The Transformative Spirit of Love. Her forthcoming book, Invisible, will be published this fall by Fortress Press.See All Articles

On Wednesday morning, as I re-read the line “eight people, including six of Asian descent,” a deep, vacuous pit began to form inside me. Not only because multiple Asian women were killed, but because the media was resistant to calling the killings a racial attack. The suspect, a 21-year-old White man, denied that his rampage was racially motivated. The media, police, and other authorities swiftly focused on economic instability and sexual addiction as potential factors. Others evoked the “lone wolf” trope, denying the possibility that the killer is part of a larger system of intertwined racism, sexism, and colonialism in which they too are complicit. Later in the day, a witness at one of the shootings reported hearing the shooter yell that he was going to “kill all Asians.” But the narrative had already been set.

Reading and listening to the carefully crafted rhetoric of countless White commentators agitated the pit churning inside of me. I thought to myself throughout the day: Why won’t they just call it what it is? Why is America so uncomfortable recognizing anti-Asian hatred? Why must it take the lives of eight victims for us to confront the dark underbelly of racism against Asians that has hidden, marginalized, divided, scarred, and battered our community for generations? Why didn’t Asian Americans speak out sooner?

As I sat in the frenzied waves of my own emotions, I considered how Asian American racial politics have played out since the start of the pandemic. The former president’s sweeping attack on all Asians, encapsulated in his unforgettable labeling of COVID-19 as the “Kung-flu,” both stoked and made visible anti-Asian hatred. People began to realize that Asian Americans are victims not only of accidental micro-aggressions, polite ignorance, and unconscious biases but also of xenophobic, racist, and sexually motivated acts of violence.https://ads.christiancentury.org/ads/ad.lasso?spot=20

It’s often said that COVID-19 created a sudden rise in discrimination and hate crimes against Asian Americans. It’s true that there has been a massive increase in anti-Asian attacks, with a 1900% increase in New York City in 2020 and more than 3,800 incidents of anti-Asian discrimination reported in the US in the past year, mostly against women. In January of last year, security cameras recorded 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee shoved to the ground while taking his morning walk in San Francisco; he died two days later. Then there was the assault of a 64-year-old Vietnamese grandmother in a robbery in San Jose, California, the attack on a 61-year-old Filipino man whose face was slashed with a box cutter on a New York City subway, and the 91-year-old man who was caught on camera being thrown to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown. These accounts are horrific. And the attacks this Tuesday, achingly fresh, remain shocking and egregious.

But bigotry against Asians, although it has been refashioned in the narrative of the pandemic and its origins, is nothing new. This is just the first time that people are noticing. As I make this claim, I feel the fresh, recurring pain of Black Americans, who are finally being heard after centuries of legal persecution in a system that was complicit in yielding to police brutality, racial assassination, and violence against them. Just as Black and Brown people are now reckoning with the forces that belie their safety and wellbeing—and in so doing, creating a global movement—Asian Americans are beginning to do the same.https://ads.christiancentury.org/ads/ad.lasso?spot=19

In this context, social environment, and political space, Asian Americans have reached a point of judgment. Tuesday’s violence has forced us to take a critical look at the world around us, the spaces we occupy, and ourselves. It isn’t yet clear where this moment of outrage, social media activism, and anti-discrimination advocacy will take us. But I have a few suggestions.

As an Asian American woman, I understand what it means to be invisible. Many factors contribute to the social, cultural, and political invisibility of Asians in America, but our own narrative remains in our control. We need to be done proving ourselves as “worthy” immigrants. Our culture of shame, saving face, and protecting the greater good has led to a culture of secrecy and detrimental internalizations. Similarly, the culture of sexism, racism, colorism, and classism within the Asian community erodes us and harms those outside our community. Changing both of these things will be integral for us to heal as a community and reach a point of greater racial justice.

On an individual level, Asian Americans can commit to the vital act of storytelling that has been lacking in our community. This means not only sharing our own experiences, but also listening. Sharing our stories in a safe space is healing in and of itself. But for collective healing, we need to be in more frequent, engaged discussions with one another, familiarizing ourselves with the mosaic of perspectives and voices that exist in the Asian American community.

If you aren’t Asian American, please listen to our stories of discrimination, suffering, marginalization, racism, and racialization. Please hear our pain when we say that the shootings in Atlanta feel like a hate crime against our community. Please know that misogyny and the fetishizing of Asian women are deeply connected with racism and colonialism. Please fight against anti-Asian hatred so it will stop demoralizing us, demonizing us, and killing us.