In the second part of celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Dr. Jonathan Tran began a forum on “Asian Americans and Racial Reconciliation.” Dr. Tran spoke on the #blacklivesmatter movement, and specifically raised the question of what #Ferguson and #Baltimore mean for Asian Americans. He spoke to the tension that many Asian Americans feel regarding racial identity, and the difficulty many Asian Americans experience as they attempt to navigate the realities of racial injustice.

On one hand, some Asian American communities have been silent regarding the issue of racial injustice, and even question whether racial reconciliation is a part of the gospel message at all. On the other hand, many Asian Americans have participated in the #blacklivesmatter movement in a myriad of ways, including marching in protests, engaging in social media with the #Asians4blacklives hashtag, and serving in ways that are just as important to the movement but often fall “under the radar.”

Dr. Tran encouraged Asian American communities to be involved in the #blacklivesmatter movement, and gave examples of the ways in which people might participate through either “prophetic” or “priestly” roles. While a prophetic role may describe those who are marching in the streets demanding justice, a priestly role can describe other community engagements such as tutoring, healthcare, providing meals and resources, media engagement, and other activities that “provide connective tissue for modern political mobilization.” He emphasized that both the prophetic and priestly roles are important to the work of racial justice, though prophetic roles often receive more attention because of their “conflictual and controversial” nature. Dr. Tran said, “I propose that Asian American communities are uniquely called, positioned, and able to embody a priestly role.”

Thanks to Dr. Tran for embodying a prophetic and priestly presence as our keynote speaker.

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