On March 16, 2021, eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent, were killed in Atlanta-area spas by a man who claimed that he had a sex addiction and saw these spas as sexual temptations that he needed to eliminate. The victims of the shootings were Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Daoyou Feng, Xiaojie Tan, Soon C Park, Hyun J Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong A Yue (NBC News).

Each one of these victims was made in God’s image and likeness and has loved ones who are now grieving — supposedly because the man who shot them “had a bad day,” according to the local Sheriff’s department captain Jay Baker (NBC News). Reducing this crime to the result of a person’s bad day is not only tragically reductive but also violates the Church’s teaching on the respect for the dignity of human life.

Reducing this crime to the result of a person’s bad day is not only tragically reductive but also violates the Church’s teaching on the respect for the dignity of human life.

As a woman, I find this violence against women to be horrendous and terrifying. As a Catholic, I am angry at hearing this crime described as the result of a Christian man’s sex addiction and his attempt "to take out that temptation" (NBC News). This perspective misapplies Christian teaching on sexual morality by reducing women to sources of temptation and acquitting a man of full responsibility for his actions.

However, as a white woman, I cannot know the depth of how news of this event has impacted people in the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community. Below is a list of articles, organizations, and other resources to support them.

May we be open to how God is speaking to us in the midst of injustice and responsive to the movement of the Spirit in rooting out all forms of racism — both in ourselves and in the world around us.

May we be open to how God is speaking to us in the midst of injustice and responsive to the movement of the Spirit in rooting out all forms of racism

Articles by AAPI Women

These articles unpack a history of sexualized racism against AAPI in America and convey some of the experiences and perspectives of AAPI women:

“Purity culture, racism and the violence against Asian women in Atlanta” by Flora x. Tang in America Magazine

“Racism, sexism must be considered in Atlanta case involving killing of six Asian women, experts say” by Kimmy Yam in NBC News

“Atlanta spa shooting suspect's 'bad day' defense, and America's sexualized racism problem” by Nancy Wang Yuen in NBC News

AAPI Organizations

Asian American Christian Collaborative: an organization seeking “to encourage, equip, and empower Asian American Christians and friends of [the] community to follow Christ holistically.”

National Organization of Asians and Pacific Islanders Ending Sexual Violence, “a program under Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity, with a mission to support local and international community-based programs and governmental organizations in enhancing their services to victims of sexual violence from the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the U.S., U.S. Territories in the Pacific, and … Asia.”

Catholic Articles and Resources

“Bishops denounce violence against Asian Americans” by Lucy Grindon in National Catholic Reporter

“At nationwide rallies, Christians stand up for Asian Americans” by Emily McFarlan Miller, Alejandra Molina, Roxanne Stone, and Religion News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Asian Americans: A Mosaic of Faith from Ave Maria Press

“Opinion: Solidarity is a Christian demand” by Stephen Staten of Black Catholic Messenger

Catholic Women Against Racism: a Facebook community for Catholic women to engage in conversations about the intersections of faith, race, and gender.

USCCB Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs: This subcommittee “assists the Committee on Cultural Diversity within the Church.” It works “directly with the standing committee and collaboratively with other USCCB committees to affirm the gifts and contributions of Asian and Pacific Island Catholics and to provide more opportunities for them to engage in the life of the Church and shape its evangelizing mission.”

Other Forms of Support

We can also support the AAPI community by shopping at Asian-owned bookstores, small businesses, and fashion brands (particularly PAL Campaign, a Catholic clothing brand founded by Korean-American Catholic Joe Kim).

We can even start by supporting Asian-owned restaurants in our areas. One of my close Vietnamese friends shared, “If someone isn’t even willing to try different Asian foods, then they aren’t ready to have a conversation about the AAPI experience in America.”

Jessica Gerhardt

Jessica Gerhardt is a Catholic feminist, singer-songwriter-ukuleleist, and artist with a passion for ministering to the marginalized, skeptical, and non-conformist. Her deeper personal conversion to faith took place, ironically, while attending one of the most atheist colleges in the country, and her background gives her a balanced worldview and well-rounded spirituality. With almost a decade of experience in youth ministry, she will say that if you had told her as a teen herself that she would grow up to work in youth ministry, she would have laughed in your face. Despite her initial reservations about this calling, Jessica found that her unconventional, vulnerable, and light-hearted approach to faith sharing endeared her to teens, parents, and adult core team members alike. In 2019, having worked in full-time parish ministry for over 8 years, Jessica discerned to step down from her role as a Director of Youth Ministry to pursue a career as a freelance musician, worship leader, artist, and speaker. Jessica has released her music on all platforms, performed on tour across the country, and has continued to serve in a number of ministry capacities.

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