Faith leaders push for understanding, solidarity in Asian and Black communities

By Deepa Bharath, The Sun |

Im’s presentation to a group of Black faith leaders about disadvantages that Asian Americans face in terms of access to health care, education, jobs and housing was “eye-opening,” said Barbara Williams-Skinner, CEO and co-founder of the Baltimore-based Skinner Leadership Institute, which trains faith leaders.

“Organizations should start building (solidarity) into their priorities,” she said. “It wasn’t a priority for us before, but it is now. We need to reach people where they are so we can stop hating and start connecting. The alienation is real, but we have a lot more to gain by coming together than we do by continuing with that alienation. We need combined voices articulating the need for solidarity. We can start by getting our churches across the racial divide.”

It is important to focus these efforts at solidarity on mutual understanding so it is sustainable, said Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder of AAPI Data and director of UC Riverside’s Center for Social Innovation.

“It’s not just about focusing on areas of common interest, but actually making change in communities,” he said. “For example, when people hire in ethnic enclave economies they tend to hire family members or friends. They could think about hiring local. Building solidarity is not just about lowering prejudice, but to figure out what the economic and policy interests are, and to support that.”

Also, if part of what brought communities together is crisis, they may not stay together once the crisis recedes, Ramakrishnan said.