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Asian American Baptist Call to Support “40 Acres and a Mule”

By Rev. Dr. Donald Ng, former senior pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church in San Francisco and the first Asian American to serve as president of American Baptist Churches, USA, 2014-15.

Slavery is immoral, evil, and a gross violation of God’s creation that all people are created in God’s own image. While today slavery is illegal in America, it has caused untold suffering to African Americans at that time and continue to create inequities today. When slavery ended, the US promised “40 acres and a mule” to freed slaves in order for them to have a new start. This commitment for reparations has never happened.

During WWII, anti-Japanese hysteria led to the incarceration of over 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry into concentration camps until the war ended. When they were incarcerated, their homes, stores, farm lands and possessions were stolen or sold to others. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act that provided living survivors with a formal apology and $20,000 each for the “grave injustices” done to them. It would cost the US government about $1.6 billion.

While there are no living persons who were enslaved today, there are many descendants of former slaves. A number of cities and states across the US are discussing how to right the wrongs of what has been referred to as “America’s original sin.”

Inasmuch as African American legislators and leaders supported the 1988 Civil Liberties Act that produced reparations to Japanese Americans, I support reparations to African Americans today. There are undoubtedly debates on what reparations would look like but in principle and based on our Christian Jubilee faith, reparation is a form of justice to repair harm, loss and damages inflicted upon African Americans.

Therefore, as an Asian American Baptist, I call all American Baptists, people in the US in all villages, towns, cities, and states:

  • To understand what reparations to African Americans might look like.
  • To engage in inter-church and multi-church gatherings for conversations to end racism and strive in becoming healing communities.
  • To speak with elected political representatives about the need for and passage of reparation legislation.
  • To work and collaborate with the ABC Black Caucus in advancing the topic of reparations in American Baptist life.
  • To call American Baptist pastors to claim a prophetic voice for racial justice including the need for reparations.
  • To pray and seek forgiveness for the times when each of us have sin against God and with one another because of our prejudice, discrimination and racism.
  • To hope that the result of this statement leading to open conversations about reparations will begin the long but necessary journey toward reconciliation and peace with one another.

To support this call, to stand in solidarity with African Americans, and with all people for restorative justice and redeemed community, you are invited to add your name to this public witness.

Fill out your name and location (City & State) in the comment section below.

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