By Jenn Ross
On March 31, a moving vigil in memory of the victims of the Atlanta terror attack on March 16 and in solidarity with the Asian American Pacific Islander communities was held at the Hadee Mosque and on Facebook Live. The program featured nearly 20 speakers representing many different constituencies. Several of the speakers touched upon the sad reality that we have had many occasions to come together in the past several years in response to acts of hate and terror against Jews, Blacks, and Muslims.
On a positive note, these vigils continue to demonstrate the strong love and support we have for each other in our community. Whenever I read about ongoing upswings in anti-Semitism and other forms of hate, I am comforted by the fact that others are speaking up against injustice. No longer is it acceptable to be a bystander to injustice.
I was incredibly moved by all of the speakers, particularly members of the AAPI community who shared their deep connection to the murdered women and feared that they could have been the victim. The AAPI community has endured significant scapegoating and unjust treatment since the pandemic began. However, like most targeted minorities, violence and hate speech was not a new experience for them.
Since acts of mass violence and hate have become so commonplace, it can be easy to lose sight of the humanity of the people who perished and just recall the numbers. Ellen Min Hartman spoke on behalf of the Central Pennsylvania Korean community, bringing these women to life briefly by telling their stories. Ellen talked about the sacrifices many of the women had made for their families and shared commonalities they had, such as love of family and specific foods. The eight people murdered had a name: Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong Yue, 63; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44. May their memories always be a blessing and I pray that the violence ends.
Thank you to Rabbi Ron Muroff for speaking beautifully on behalf of the Jewish community and to the many members of our community who attended. Rabbi Muroff was among those who recounted the numerous times we have come together to mourn and declared that this is not acceptable and that harassment and violence must stop. He provided a good suggestion that people get bystander training so they can assist neighbors as they are encountering injustice. Yasher Koach.
Rabbi Muroff and Rev. Dr. James Jackson of Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church asked us to actively look at others we did not know and acknowledge each other’s presence. Rev. Jackson directed us to tell each other as we were looking at each other, “I see you.” It was a powerful moment which resonated with me. Please know that even behind our masks, when I pass by you, I see you. You are important to me. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-236-9555 x3104.