Scores of Christians, religious leaders, activists and community members came together in Chinatown, New York on May 14 and joined “Walk of Faith,” a march of support to Asian communities amid heightened anti-Asian violence.
The Black Christian leaders in Brooklyn organized the solidarity walk for peace and unity to support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. About 22 organizations joined the event and participants stopped by key landmarks along Chinatown to reflect and pray. Black and Asian Christians banded together following several high-profile attacks on Asian New Yorkers.
The Asian American community is very vulnerable. —Pastor Edward-Richard Hinds
New York University student Eden Min led the prayer and was overtaken with emotions while speaking about “the death of our brothers and sisters in the city,” reports Gothamist.com. Rev. Bernadette Lewis of the Zion House of Prayer in Brooklyn comforted Min during her speech. In an interview, Lewis pointed out that, “we may look differently, our skin may differ, our looks may differ, but we all hurt.”
Early this year, Michelle Alyssa Go, 40, was killed after being pushed in front of an oncoming train at the Times Square subway station. GuiYing Ma, 61, was attacked with a rock outside her home in Queens, and Christina Yuna Lee, 35, was stabbed to death in her apartment.
Several hate crimes involved Black suspects, leading to speculations of tensions between the two communities. Irresponsible comments from personalities and racist language on mainstream and social media didn’t quell these claims. The “Walk of Faith” countered this narrative and showed solidarity between Asian Americans and Black people.
NYPD data revealed that hate crimes against Asian New Yorkers spiked by 361% in 2021. Advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate confirmed the upward trend, stating that a total of 10,905 hate incidents were reported between March 19, 2020, and the end of December 2021, reports Nikkei Asia. Chinese Americans were more likely to be targeted with nearly 43% of incidents reported.
The pandemic worsened anti-Asian American hate crimes. With the coronavirus originating from China, some people turned their frustrations to attacking Asian Americans. Rev. Lewis said many are dealing with mental health issues caused by the pandemic. “So they’re lashing out and attacking the nearest person for no reason whatsoever. So we now need to have resources available for them.”
A Pew research found that a majority of Asian Americans, about 63% or six-in-ten adults, say violence against them is increasing. Amid reports of racially motivated attacks, a third of Asian Americans changed their daily routines because of these concerns.
“The Asian American community is very vulnerable,” said Pastor Edward-Richard Hinds, who is with the 67th Precinct Clergy Council, one of the partner organizations for the event. “And so this helps to spread this message of love and solidarity, and that we are a part of the solution as well. And we will stand with them.”