March 23, 2021

Dear Theological School Community,

Last week in Atlanta, six Asian-American women were among eight people murdered by a white man. This explosion of violence is the most recent incident in more than a year of increasing anti-Asian racist violence in the United States. 

At the Theological School, we are grieving deep in our bones. This moment again reflects the structural realities of white supremacy, this at the intersections of anti-Asian and gender-based violence. Again the tools of our faith traditions are being weaponized for these purposes. And, again, those facing this moment are part of us. Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander students, faculty, staff, and alumni make Drew what it is. Korean and Korean-Americans are part of the very fabric of Drew’s history, present, and future. We cannot stand by as friends, classmates, and colleagues carry the heavy burden of loss, erasure, and fear of violence. 

The community of Drew Theological School is standing against anti-Asian hate. On social media, in classrooms, and in churches, you have been reaching out, taking action, and speaking up. In our circles of friends and neighbors and in town squares, we are raging, weeping, and resisting. President Schwarz’s message to the Drew community calls us to “reaffirm a commitment to dismantling racism and to strengthening a sense of belonging.” This week Theo social media has been and will continue to amplify Asian voices and share resources for community education and action from like-minded institutions. 

We invite you to come together at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 25th to hear the experiences of Drew Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander students in this climate and to mourn and remember the victims of the shooting in Atlanta. The event is co-sponsored by the Chinese Culture Club, the Theological Student Association, the Korean Caucus, the International Students Services Office, and the University Chaplain’s Office. Register here to receive the Zoom link.

As you each look to the social witness and work that is needed in your context, hold our community in care and love. Make a special effort to connect with a friend. As Drew Theo alumnus, Hector Burgos, said recently on Facebook, “Be the reason someone feels welcomed, seen, heard, valued, loved, and supported.” And as Mark Miller says in his powerful anthem of resistance: “refuse to let hatred in.” 

Dean Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre
Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity