We Cannot Be Silent
Statement by the Asian American Faculty of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities
Esther 4:14 (NIV) For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
As we live and teach in the metro area where some of the recent racial and police violence has taken place, we believe that there is a specific call to Asian Americans at this time of history. Below is a statement drawn from the Asian American faculty at United, “for such a time as this:”
Racism is a pervasive and deeply engrained reality in the U.S. society. Racism could, indeed, be America’s original sin. The rise and pattern in recent police brutalities against people of color, particularly Black Americans, is an ugly manifestation of white racism. In spite of overwhelming evidence of police brutalities against communities of color brought about by new technologies, such as the mobile phone with video capability, the criminal and justice system of the “land of the free and home of the brave” has continued to white wash the issue.
As Asian Americans, many of us know an ancestral narrative of immigration to the U.S. in order to strive towards the dream of a better life with a fullness of opportunity, inclusion and agency. Many of us have had the cultural values of education, resiliency, economic security, and familial piety woven into our ethnic identity, aligning with the status of “model minority” and an ease of assimilation into U.S. culture. The implied compromise is that we will be rewarded with a limited amount of status, prosperity, and mobility if we comply with and not challenge the perceived normative values. But our cultural values and standing are often used to pit Asian Americans against other non-white racial ethnic groups as if security, honor, respect, and access are limited resources.
Asian Americans must not trade silence for the illusion of security. We must recognize our own complicity in a system of power and inequity. We must join with Blacks and work with the wider society in exposing racialized police brutalities and in dismantling the racist criminal and justice system.
Drawing on our traditions of struggle, we must express outrage and laments in public, and we must speak truth to power, for we know deep in our hearts that silence is a lie when truth needs to be spoken. We must muster courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but is founded on the belief that there is something greater than fear, which fear itself cannot hold one back from pursuing. In courage we know not only what is to be feared, but also what is to be dared. What is to be dared is human dignity in the face of its desecration and violation; what is to be dared is the just and democratic society in the face of corrosion to its very core; what is to be dared is the sanctity of life that is terrorized by the forces of death. These are reasons to dare, and dare we must!
We will work for reconciliation. But reconciliation cannot arise until there is repentance and subsequent actions of repair that become a sustained reality rather than a fleeting moment. Reconciliation cannot become a possibility until there is a relocation of physical, emotional, and psychological realities where all are acutely affected by the tragedies like that of the recent deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling because of our proximity to one another. Reconciliation is not possible until there is redistribution and re-leveling of access and agency to material resources and opportunities of discovery and growth for oneself and one’s family as essential to our existence. Thus, we will work toward the full inclusion of everyone.
As we work toward healing and reconciliation, knowing that preconditions are justice, repair, and forgiveness,
- We stand with Black Lives Matter, houses of faith, community organizations and individuals that condemn the racial-profiling, excessive use of force, and subsequent disproportionate killing of African Americans at the hands of police across the country with no equitable accountability or due process in administering justice to these situations or those involved.
- We stand equally with these communities that are non-violently working for those previously stated conditions in order for historic, systemic racism and inequity to be brought out in the light in order for change to occur in our institutions and our lives.
- We fully support those police and civil servants who are actively working towards holding those in their own vocation accountable for actions that threaten to annul the responsibility and authority afforded to them as public officers entrusted with the greater public service and safety.
The American Dream cannot be realized until all Americans come together and condemn all kind of violence and work toward learning and appreciating different races. The American Dream that we vision is the place where all Americans can live and work without fear of violence and racial profiling.
Download a PDF version of this statement.