April 22, 2020
To Euro Caucus Churches in our Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches USA
Dear sisters and brothers,
We, a handful of Euro Caucus church members, with growing awareness of our privilege as white people, have been meeting and working together for a while. We are trying to understand, confront, and undo the effects of white dominance, a system that unconsciously, but persistently, exerts great control over our individual lives, our culture and so many of our congregations. We have worked with – and been inspired and challenged by – our Executive Minister Doug Avilesbernal.
In times like these, when anxiety runs high, racism surfaces in explicit and undeniable ways, affecting public discourse and response to the COVID-19 crisis. In this letter we want to share our thoughts and concerns about how race and racism are meeting the world-wide outbreak of COVID-19, and about how our churches can help address the challenges of this moment across our region.
We notice, and are concerned about, these things: Our nation’s President, against the counsel of his advisors, continues to speak of the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.” A Seattle teacher stops class when he hears a white child call an Asian American child “corona.” Chinese Americans – reporting that they are yelled at, chased, spit upon, kicked and punched – are afraid to go out in public, to go shopping, or to let their children play outside. Further, news outlets across the country report that black and brown persons suffer infection, hospitalization and even death at much higher rates than whites, and that access to COVID-19 testing depends greatly on who you are, where you live, and how much money you have.
Some in our churches may be less aware of anti-Asian laws such as the Chinese Exclusion Act and the internment of Japanese American citizens, or the history of racial oppression of black and brown people. But the level of anxiety that shaped those actions and institutions is giving impetus to these new expressions of racism in communities across our nation, and perhaps most strongly in the northwest United States.
We ask you, as we ask ourselves: Are there Chinese (or other Asian) people in your church? In your neighborhood? How are they engaged, treated, spoken of? Are there Asian, and black and brown, businesses in your community? When they open again, how can you support them?
Dear friends, we hold each other, you, your churches and your neighbors in prayer. May God’s compassion, and the courage we draw from it, move us all through these difficult days.
John Armagost firstname.lastname@example.org
Annette Mauldin email@example.com
Wim Mauldin firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Roberts email@example.com
Merletta Roberts firstname.lastname@example.org
Brooke Rolston email@example.com
Doug Avilesbernal firstname.lastname@example.org