Category: Pondering Peace
An Expression of Solidarity
Central Seminary is a community blessed with students, faculty, and staff from a diversity of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Currently, the majority of our students are of Asian background, due to a thriving Korean-language program, collaborative Doctor of Ministry programs with institutions in both Myanmar and South Korea, and immigrant and international students from both countries. We are enriched and strengthened by this diversity.
The Atlanta murders of six women of Asian background on Tuesday, March 16 placed the spotlight on anti-Asian racism and hate crimes. Almost every day since there have been reports of other racially focused hate incidents. We have learned that the frequency of such incidents has significantly increased during this last year of racial rhetoric related to the pandemic. With an increasing awareness of this less mentioned form of racism, we can better support those who deal with it on a daily basis and do what we can to address it.
Recently, one of our Korean faculty made us aware of their appreciation for an expression of solidarity sent out by Dr. Robert Johnson, Central Seminary’s Provost and Dean, soon after the Atlanta shootings.
With his permission, his letter is posted below. It expresses well the concern of so many more of us.
Dear Central Family,
An event that occurred in Atlanta on Tuesday has brought to public attention a reality that persons of Asian heritage have long experienced – race-related expressions of hate and violence. Two of Central Seminary’s core values are: (1) We regard every person as bearing the image of God and worthy of inclusion in our educational vision, and (2) We respect the richness of diversity as we engage the voices of different ages, races, ethnicities, genders, and faith traditions. We take these values seriously because we believe they express the truth that God is the creator and loving caregiver of all persons. For these and other reasons we denounce the verbal abuse, psychological attacks, and physical threats directed against persons of Asian heritage who reside in America and beyond. I am ashamed of and disgusted by this conduct. While I imagine that only a minority of the population holds these hateful attitudes, it only takes a few such incidents to leave the targeted population feeling frightened, isolated, insecure, and intimidated.
As Provost, I want you to know that we grieve over the deaths of the victims of Asian heritage in Atlanta. Beyond that, we also grieve the hurt, verbal abuse, psychological pressure, and even physical intimidation too often experienced by our students, faculty, and staff of Asian heritage due to hate and cultural biases. I recognize that my message cannot take away your hurt, anger, sense of vulnerability, and possibly even depression over what has happened, neither can I fully comprehend all that you might be experiencing right now. However, I do want to affirm that you are a valued member of Central’s family because of your Asian heritage, never in spite of it. You are wanted at Central in part because you enrich us with your unique and beautiful heritages and cultures. I am proud of our faculty, students, and administrators of Asian heritage, and I am very thankful that you are part of this community, and I want you always to be here. You are brothers and sisters in Christ, and you are fellow laborers in God’s work. When you are hurt I, along with all other members of the Central community, hurt.
We are praying with you and for you with special fervor during this time of aggravated shock, grief, fear, intimidation, and anger. I also want you to know that I maintain daily communication with Korean program directors attempting to stay informed about your safety, concerns, feelings, fears, and educational situations. I encourage you to stay in touch with your local site director, program director, student success staff, and each other during these chaotic times. I want to help you feel as safe as possible, as loved and appreciated as possible, and ensure that you have a place at Central where you can turn when you need support and comfort. As faculty, students, and alums of Central, you should know that program directors and Asian counseling professors are available to provide prayer and pastoral support if you will let us know you need and want it. I also encourage you to report any incidents of hate, verbal abuse, psychological intimidation, and physical threat you might experience to your site director, professors, or program director. It helps us better know how we can help when you let us know what you are experiencing.
I sincerely regret the insults and intimidation you are having to endure right now. I admire your fortitude to remain faithful to God and to each other amid such uncertainty and threat. May God comfort and protect you always.
Robert E. Johnson, PhD
Provost & Dean of the Faculty
Posted on April 7, 2021 by Ruth Rosell