*Note: this piece was written before the violence that occurred in Half Moon Bay. We lament the violence that occurred there as well.
Reflections by Sharon Fong Mo
DEAR BELOVED COMMUNITY,
As AAPIs in the CCDA, we are well aware of the recent mass shooting in Monterey Park, California had a ripple effect for the Asian diaspora who have family and relational ties to this region and also for those who are yet again devastated by another violent act against AAPIs.
In the age of social media, news travels fast.
In recent years of social distancing, processing tragic news in person with friends who share our heritage may be difficult.
RHYTHMS OF OUR GATHERINGS
Our AAPIs in the CCDA group has gathered regularly, so we have felt the waves after attacks against Asians at the Atlanta spa, Uvalde school, and Irvine/Laguna Woods church. And now as we’ve gathered again for this Lunar New Year, we did so in the shadow of the dance studio attacks in Monterey Park.
We met after we adjusted our plans for our gathering. We made space to share, process and pray together. For many, we sensed a cognitive dissonance between celebrating the new year and feeling pain after reading horrific headline news about violence against Asian Americans. Coverage of AAPIs in the national media is often rare, so news events that spotlight violence toward AAPIs is a gut punch.
Whether this was a violent incident across the country or nearby, when violence is perpetrated against someone who looks like your grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers, friends or you, this is upsetting. Can we normalize that these feelings are natural? The acts may have not been natural, but our response of shock and upset can unfold as we hear of crimes that violate our sense of harmony and wellbeing. We may not be a monolith, but the Asian diaspora holds generations of immigrant and refugee families that have hidden stories of trauma, abuse, and pain. The first step for you or a loved one may be to identify one’s feelings.
HOW DO I FEEL?
Communal grief and pain is nothing new to people of color. For those of Asian heritage, some of us may feel BIG emotions now, but resist the discomfort of talking about how we feel in public. Or even avoid talking about how we feel in response to the news with our families. We may even resist generations of our family superstitions that urge us to not talk about “bad things” as the new year begins. Yet now we can’t seem to celebrate in the same way we did in previous years as what happened has violated our traditional communal sense of harmony when starting the new year.
You may have heard this phrase during the pandemic: “It is okay to not feel okay.” We have to acknowledge these feelings that are emerging, so we can reconcile them with how the Lord has created us as followers of Christ. It is also okay to be “in process” as we get in touch with our unfamiliar or familiar emotions of communal grief and pain and deal with them in healthy ways. Some emotions take time to feel reconciled with what we are thinking.
We empathize with those who suffer.
We also want the the Lord’s redemptive justice to be poured out.
Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed.
Why do the wicked renounce God,
and say in their hearts, ‘You will not call us to account’?
But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands;
the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers; seek out their wickedness until you find none.
The Lord is king for ever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land.
O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek;
you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more.
Psalm 10: 12-18 (NRSV)
AAPIs in the CCDA
Although a few of us work with predominantly Asian populations, most of us live in or serve alongside non-Asian populations—yet these jolts have been personal as our families and CCDA network allows us to connect and build ties with diaspora peoples regionally who are often living in these affected areas.
After regularly gathering virtually online in the CCDA with AAPIs almost every month with those who care about me, not just what I do, has been encouraging.
If you are like me, I want to come alongside leaders and members who build healthy spaces and places for people to thrive. But I often find myself led by the Lord to live among broken people and communities that need the hope of Christ that heals the deepest wounds within us all.
As we go, we know the Lord is with us in the challenging situations and experiences we encounter. And we hope to build a beloved community of AAPIs here who also can provide encouragement to us and others who are doing very challenging Kingdom work.
May the Lord bless you to be a blessing to the Nations.