"We can act and respond to violence and hate by looking within ourselves"
KARENFAY RAMOS-YOUNG, RETIRED AUTHORIZED MINISTER, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
No matter where the violence is happening, in your neighborhood or mine, #STOPAAPIHATE and #BLM:BLACK LIVES MATTER call us to interrogate ourselves; to honestly look at our unwarranted assumptions about people, our biases and prejudices.
In Hawai‘i, when asked about my parents’ hometowns or their alma mater, due to the inquirers' unintentional biases, these conversations normalized a hierarchy with me at the bottom. My answers, Pu‘unene, Takayama Camp, Pā‘auhau, Waialua and Honoka‘a High Schools, placed me in assumed lower socioeconomic class and some folks devalued and dismissed me even as an ordained minister. With others, a kinship grew because of common plantation, working class roots.
I am a dark Asian American woman and I am cautiously aware that even within Asian American communities, in our churches and with my vocational responsibilities I will encounter oppression, microaggression, gender inequality and will feel devalued because of the color of my skin. Hospital patients, for example, expected me to clear food trays, bring fresh linens, wipe up spills, move bedside urinals and commodes before introducing myself as the minister offering a pastoral visit.
We can act and respond to violence and hate by looking within ourselves, speaking against archaic systems of racism, questioning patriarchal social structures, being a voice for equality and equity, justly treating newer Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants with understanding and kindness. Choose to not be a perpetrator of unjust ways of thinking.
(This was originally published in the May 2021 issue of The Friend.)