This vigil that occurred on August 1, 2020 on Leimert Park and the continuing work are a collaborative endeavor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Christians and churches from Southern California expressing love and solidarity with the Black community. We gather in unity from diverse backgrounds, theological convictions, and denominational affiliations to demand equal justice for Black lives. Our society has too often pitted our communities against each other; but AAPI communities have a long, rich history of common struggle for civil rights with Black communities, to which we are deeply indebted. We confess the ways that AAPI peoples have been complicit in anti-blackness, while also rejecting the false narratives of silence and inaction that erase the history of our social action. Joining our Christian and activist ancestors, we commit ourselves in redemptive hope to the collective pursuit of racial justice and the dismantling of unjust systems for the glory and honor of our Creator.
Why are we holding this event at Leimert Park, Crenshaw district?
Leimert Park is an historic landmark in Crenshaw, part of South Central Los Angeles. After their incarceration during World War II, Japanese Americans returned from the concentration camps to live here and in the surrounding area because they were one of the few neighborhoods that were welcoming. Many Japanese Americans attend Susan Miller Dorsey High School and several neighborhood homes have Japanese-style gardens as an enduring physical remembrance of the presence of Japanese American gardeners in those times. We also acknowledge the struggles against displacement and gentrification that this community has been enduring for the last 10-15 years.
What do I bring to the Vigil?
Bring a mask and wear comfortable shoes. There is limited shade, and wearing sunscreen or a hat is recommended. You can also bring your own water, snacks, and hand sanitizer. In general, “travel light”, bringing only what you absolutely need (e.g. phone, wallet).
If you feel ill, or have any symptoms of illness, we ask you to please act with an abundance of caution and join us for the online webstream.
Where should I park?
There are metered street parking areas (coins and cards) on Degnan Avenue as well as two other parking lots: One on 43rd Street and Creed Ave (3416 W 43rd Street), and another one on 43rd and Norton Ave (3358 W 43rd Street).
Are there things that I should keep in mind during the Vigil?
Maintain physical distance and wear a face mask, covering your nose and mouth, throughout the event.
As guests in this neighborhood, please be respectful of community members and their spaces. There will be Safety Monitors along our group wearing yellow or orange armbands. If you have any concerns, please notify them first. There aren’t any public restrooms in the Park; however, neighbor businesses have graciously opened theirs for our use. Specific details will be provided at the event.
What do I do right after the Vigil?
After the Vigil, please stay in the area to patronize Black owned restaurants, cafes, and other eateries around Leimert Park.
What are some concrete actions that I and my community can do after the Vigil?
Be educated in matters about racial justice.
Develop relationships with Black churches.
Support Black-owned businesses.
Donate to Racial Justice Initiative (https://eji.org/).
Vote for political leaders who will effect change towards racial justice.
See the Resource page for more.
Given the theological and political diversity of AAPI Christians, how are we coming together on this issue?
While we acknowledge and respect our real differences, this event sees us joining our voice together in solidarity with the Black community and their cries for racial justice. We do not ask attendees to agree on other issues, but are consciously choosing to emphasize this one shared cause.
We can think of this event as “getting on a bus” bound toward this cause. You may step off the bus later, after this event, to address other causes of importance to you.
Crucially, we acknowledge that we do not speak for all AAPI Christians, but simply for those who find value in speaking together as AAPI Christians in solidarity with Black Lives.
What do you mean by “political” in your Vision Statement and Goals?
Racial justice is a theological issue with political ramifications. We are committed to not only talking about loving our neighbors as individuals, but praying and working for systemic change in our laws, government, culture, and society. We believe that our discipleship is public and political, though not necessarily affiliated to any party’s partisan politics. As the Reverend MLK Jr. sought to save the soul of our nation, not only individual souls, our event is directed to praying for God’s power and work toward transforming our nation.
Who is the lead organizer of this event?
There is no single lead organizer for this event. That plural leadership is intentional to make sure that co-sponsors do not end up as pawns toward anyone’s individual agenda. Our goal is not to raise the profile, visibility, or agenda of any one AAPI church or organization, but to unite as diverse AAPI Christians towards the cause of our Black brothers and sisters.
- Asian America Podcast w/ Ken Fong
- An Invitation to Pray with AAPI Christians for Our Black Brothers and Sisters: An Interview with Dr. Alexander Jun (SOLA Network Podcast)
- “Asian Americans and Race” with Dr. Daniel D. Lee, Center for Asian American Theology and Ministry, Fuller Seminary (Tapestry LA Daily Podcast)
- “Your Liberation is our Liberation” (Episcopal News Service)
- Gary Tawa’s Testimony (Cerritos Baptist Church)