Racial and Gender-based Violence Strikes Again, A Message from President Javier A. Viera
March 17, 2021
Dear Garrett-Evangelical community,
This morning we once again awoke to news and scenes of horrific violence against eight persons–of whom seven were women and six were Asian—all shot to death in Georgia last night. We grieve the loss experienced by their communities, and most importantly their family and friends. I cannot find words strong enough to condemn this senseless violence. While details are still emerging, and the true motivations for this violence may never fully be known, there is no doubt that the Asian community was the target once again, as they have been so often before. That this violence was also perpetrated mostly against women is yet another example of the massive wave of gender-based violence that has gripped almost every corner of the globe.
For far too long Asian and Asian Americans have been the targets of violence, discrimination, harassment, ridicule and racism. As a Christian community, we must not only condemn this violence, but we must also do our part to stand in solidarity with our Asian and Asian American siblings, mourning with them and providing support wherever and however possible, as well as extending compassion and empathy. As a community of teachers and learners, we must also confront the ongoing pandemic of racialized violence, stereotyping, misinformation and mischaracterization that are so rampant in our country. Instead, we can and must provide truthful information and analytical resources that promote deeper understanding, respect, and appreciation for the beauty of our diversity. Faith communities and educational institutions have long been at the forefront of confronting falsehoods and targeted violence against communities and peoples, and Garrett-Evangelical has a long tradition of courageous action and outspoken witness against the senselessness and prejudice this violence represents. We will continue that work and witness for as a long as it is required.
Asian Faculty RoundtableTomorrow morning (March 18, 2021), from 10.00 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. (CDT), our Center for Asian/Asian American Ministry and Theology and our Asian faculty will host a roundtable discussion on the rise in anti-Asian violence in the United States and around the globe. I hope that as many of you as possible are able to join in order to become better informed about the origin, perniciousness, and impact of this violence, but also as an expression of support and solidarity with all of our Asian and Asian American students, staff, and faculty. It is my hope that this conversation will be but the beginning of wider reflection and focused action in response to the pain and suffering of so many Asian and Asian Americans in this country and in our community.
We also cannot overlook the fact that this violence largely targeted women, and women of color in particular, an already especially vulnerable group in this country. This gender-motivated violence continues to be one of the most pervasive forms of violence across the world. Again, as a Christian community of teachers and learners we must use every resource at our disposal to promote the sacred worth of all individuals, as well as the values of equality, dignity, respect and peace. It is painful to still have to say in 2021 that dehumanizing actions and violence against women are not only unacceptable and condemnable, but sinful, abhorrent and contrary to everything we believe as Christians and as citizens or residents of a free and democratic society.
I know you will join me in prayer for all who suffer this day because of this violence, but we must do more than pray. Let us join together as a community tomorrow to mourn, to learn, to honor those who have been violently and senselessly taken. While doing so, let us commit ourselves to being agents of change, reconciliation and hope in a broken, sinful, and deeply distorted world. Taking concrete action against violence, racism, and sexism in all its forms is the best prayer we can offer and the most faithful witness we can give.
In faith, hope, and love,
Javier A. Viera, President
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary