WHEREAS, racism is ever-present, deeply rooted in American culture, and profoundly damaging to our communities, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) condemns all racist rhetoric, violence, discrimination, and hatred directed against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.
The escalation of violence against Asian American Pacific Islanders is derived from individual and institutional acts of racism and misogyny. This racism is more than just a personal attitude; it is the institutionalized form of that attitude. Institutional racism is one of the ways organizations and structures preserve injustice. The mechanisms and function of these entities create a pattern of racial injustice against AAPI persons, families, communities, and businesses.
In the early days of the emerging global pandemic, “China and Wuhan virus” were used derogatorily by those seeking to gain political advantage. Because of this political rhetoric, our AAPI neighbors experienced a heightened level of discrimination and anti-Asian/Pacific xenophobia during the COVID-19 pandemic. While this hateful language spread, an alarming series of violent crimes and brutal attacks occurred across the country. Hate incidents against the AAPI community have been documented by the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center and found to be severely escalating with over 3,800 hate incidents since March 2020. These reported incidences represent only a fraction of the number of hate instances that occur against Asian American Pacific Islanders.
THEREFORE, the NCC stands with all who live in fear due to the discrimination unleashed on the AAPI community and will, through the work of our A.C.T. (Awaken, Confront, Transform) NOW to End Racism! Campaign, we will charge the Racial Justice Task Force to expand its work and focus on racism against all who experience it in our country, including the AAPI community.
WHEREAS, racial hatred and vitriol inflicted on our AAPI siblings has occurred for far too long in this country and we must do our part to acknowledge, address and bring it to an end. Unfortunately, these brutal attacks have called us to AWAKEN to the truth that anti-Asian Pacific racism is another aspect of white supremacy and Christian nationalism that is ever-present, deeply rooted in American culture, and profoundly damaging to our communities.
Historically, immigration policies in the United States have discriminated against people from Asian Pacific countries. The Page Exclusion Act of 1875, the nation’s first restrictive immigration law, prohibited the entry of Chinese women unless they could prove they were not immigrating for immoral purposes. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned the immigration of all Chinese laborers for ten years and declared Chinese immigrants ineligible for naturalization. In 1892, the Geary Act reinforced and extended the ban on Chinese immigration for an additional ten years and required Chinese residents in the U.S. to carry special documentation. The 1924 Immigration Act, a legislative expression of the xenophobia created a permanent quota system based on “national origin” that effectively cut off all immigration from Asia.
Racism against Asian American Pacific Islanders has permeated American institutions in a plethora of ways. The 1854 Supreme Court Case, People v. Hall, ruled that Chinese Americans were not allowed to testify in court. During World War II, people of Japanese descent were the majority of those suspected of being an enemy and 120,000 were unjustly incarcerated in internment camps. In the midst of U.S. involvement in the wars in Southeast Asia, American culture promulgated the characterization of AAPI women as potential sex workers. Since then, American media and films have continued to sexualize and stigmatize AAPI women.
Further back in history, the colonists who invaded North America institutionalized racism by the creation of dual economic, educational, social, and political systems that deemed a life significant only if it was of European ancestry. Asians were paid lower wages than white workers building U.S. railway lines for work that was brutally difficult with workers injured and killed at a very high rate. This discrimination was not limited to the westward expansion as the general pattern of racial exploitation continued with western imperialism extending to the Hawaiian Islands, the Philippines, and Samoa. Even now, racial exploitation can be seen in U. S. international policies and practices towards Asia and the Pacific Islands.
During the early colonial years and through the westward expansion, the general pattern of most Christian traditions was either to condone, develop a religious rationale for racism, or to keep silent. During World War II, when Japanese Americans were imprisoned in concentration camps, only a few Christian communions publicly protested. Some individual Christians, however, assisted in the resettlement of Japanese Americans after the war.
THEREFORE, We CONFRONT racism, speak truth to ourselves, our communities, and institutions, and stand against injustice. NCC calls for members of our churches to be allies and co-laborers alongside the AAPI community by including their concerns in our shared work toward ending racism and by challenging AAPI stereotypes and racially insensitive incidents in their communities and networks of influence. We pledge to work to alleviate the problems in the AAPI community that are often ignored because of harmful stereotypes, such as the perpetual foreigner and the model minority myths, which silence our AAPI neighbors when they should be supported.
When violent attacks occur and the perpetrators are found to have acted based on a bias against the victim being AAPI, we call for their prosecution as hate crimes. To end this racism in our society, we must name it wherever it emerges and do everything in our power to root it out and replace it with just, safe, and equitable communities for all of God’s people.
We call for all the members of our communions to TRANSFORM their hearts, minds, and behaviors and to work toward transforming the hearts, minds and behaviors of the people and structures in their communities that perpetuate racism. AAPI people and their efforts to end discrimination and violent acts of hate must be seen as critically important by the entire church.
We are grateful for heightened solidarity between churches and the AAPI community and encourage denominational leaders to expand their efforts in support of anti-AAPI racism.
Together we reaffirm that our public and private treatment of all of God’s people should exemplify not only our commitment to racial justice, but also our vision of an inclusive and caring society to bring healing and wholeness to all people, and unity to the nation.
We affirm our love and affection for the people of the world, for the people of this nation, and for generations yet to come. We pledge to right the wrongs and, with God’s grace, do our part to end racism against all people once and for all.
Adopted unanimously by NCC Governing Board – April 20, 2021