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'Confront prejudice and discrimination on every front'

We stand with our sisters and brothers in the Asian, Asian Pacific Island (AAPI) community in the aftermath of the murderous assault that took the lives of eight innocent souls. We find ourselves thinking about the families suffering the loss of those they love; the eight souls killed in the shooting rampage on March 16 in Atlanta.

Six of the victims were of AAPI descent and seven were women. All were innocent. We offer our prayers and condolences to their families and to those whom they loved and who loved them. Several other incidents have been reported around the country in the last weeks in which elder Chinese Americans were violently attacked. We pray for their healing from the trauma as well.

The investigation of the Atlanta killing is ongoing. And while law enforcement says that it is too soon to determine if the killings were race related, we know that they were killed for who they are. And while the shooter has said that he targeted them because of a sexual addiction he associates with massage parlors, we know that his victims were targeted because of where they worked.

We certainly count on the police to conduct a thorough investigation, but it seems clear to many that institutionalized racism and sexism greatly motivated the shooter’s actions. We know that in our recent history there has been a heightened level of discrimination and anti-Asian sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic and many people in the Asian-American community are feeling unsafe.

Our hearts go out to those who have been the victim of, and traumatized by, this assault and other forms of discriminatory bullying, insults, and violence. We pray for love, care, and respect to prevail in this land and any racial stereotype and stigma to be torn down. We decry the xenophobic rhetoric that some national leaders have used. That rhetoric has wrongly targeted this community and directly resulted in the dramatic increase of verbal abuse, physical assaults and institutional discrimination. We call upon political and social leaders to stop fanning the flames of hate.

In addition to our prayers for the families of those needlessly gunned down, we pray for the communities of those of Asian descent in not only Atlanta but throughout our country. We must also be steadfast in continuing to confront prejudice and discrimination on every front. We are all God’s children and we must continue to stand against violence that diminishes, brutalizes or takes the lives of any child of God.

In order to end racism, we must call it for what it is and do everything that we can to change our world so that it is safe and equitable for all of God’s people. We pray also for the continued healing of our nation and our own communities and hope that you stand with us as members of the Norwich Area Clergy Association, NAACP Norwich Branch and Robertsine Duncan Youth Council, Norwich Chinese Christian Church of the C&MA, and the greater Norwich community to make the change happen right here at home. It happens here first and it happens here first with us. Join us as we continue to be the change we need to see.

Rav Julius Rabinowitz of the Beth Jacob Synagogue, Norwich, is the president of the Norwich Area Clergy Association and submitted this commentary on its behalf.




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