As an Asian-American activist, I must constantly negotiate what it means to be a woman faith leader – all while challenging misconceptions of the “model minority myth” and the “otherization” of my identity in a dominant culture that often sees anything other than whiteness as foreign, exotic, or suspect. And yet, I know that my experiences do not pale in comparison to the hardships of those experienced within the greater sisterhood.
The remarkably human and loving response to imperiled neighbors in Houston stands in stark contrast against the hateful racial ugliness that paraded through the streets of Charlottesville earlier in the month as angry white supremacists — KKK, Neo Nazis, “alt-right” members — marched publicly and proudly without sheets shouting anti-black and anti-Semitic assaults, and ultimately led to the death of Heather Heyer. The lighted torches, fear, hate, and violence of Charlottesville was such a shameful juxtaposition to the self-sacrificial love and service across racial lines that the disasters caused by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey evoked from people.
Donald Trump’s fueling of racial fear and hate is being played out in our nation’s policies. Incredibly, Trump even justified the Arpaio pardon by saying it got high “ratings” from his constituency. He ran on a platform of anti-immigrant hostility — much like Arpaio — and his base is expecting him to deliver. And now 800,000 lives hang in the balance.
What now? Where do churches go from here? Here are five initial thoughts I would like to share, knowing the answer isn’t simple — it will take our collective discernment from the whole diversity of our churches to continue addressing our post-Charlottesville way forward.