Grace Cathedral is seeking a Vice Dean / Canon for Spiritual Life. The application period is open through March 1, 2021. Please read the job description and application process. To apply, email your materials firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
by Dorothy Randall Tsuruta
“Friends, Brothers and Sisters in the struggle for human dignity and freedom. I am here to represent the struggle that has gone on for 300 or more years, a struggle to be recognized in the country in which we were born. I have had years of struggle ever since a little boy on the streets of Norfolk called me a nigger. I struck him back, and I have had to learn that hitting back with my fist one individual was not enough. It takes organizations, it takes dedication, it takes willingness to stand by and do what must be done, when it must be done.”
Regina Walton, congregation member and convener of Grace Cathedral’s Deanery delegates, shares her perspective on the current anger, grief and protest rising across our nation.
“I’m writing this with a caveat that it’s definitely incomplete and, most important, that it doesn’t represent the views of all black people. This is my perspective on a very complex issue that touches all of us. I say it when someone asks me about black people: we’re not a monolith. We’re part of the black diaspora, which is multi-layered and rich with different types of people, cultures, beliefs, and priorities.
“What we’re seeing now is simply unprecedented. The murder of George Floyd has been a catalyst to protests not only in Minneapolis but nation- and worldwide. Layer on top of that the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, along with pandemic that’s had a ho-hum response from the Federal and some local governments which hits the black community harder? This was a powder keg waiting to explode.
“All of this is inherently difficult and traumatic for us as people. I only speak from a black American point of view. We’ve suffered through slavery. Slaves, unlike indentured servants, weren’t allowed to keep their language or their culture or to buy their freedom. To this day, a lot of us have no idea where we come from except that our blood links us back to the African continent. For immigrants whose families were never enslaved, thankfully, they have a different experience. From 1619 until now the black experience in the United States of America has been one of struggle in a system that’s not made for us. We’re reminded of that on a daily basis. I’ve been reminded of that at Grace. I was baptized there during the 2009 Easter Vigil. I moved away to NYC shortly after that and moved back to the Bay Area in 2011. There have been a few times where someone has made small talk with me and approached me as the other. I’m assuming they think I’m passing through. If you know me, that’s why you’ll almost always see me with my name tag on. When I wear that, I don’t get that conversation.
“I’m originally from Los Angeles. I grew up in South Central Los Angeles. I was there during the ‘92 riots when the four Los Angeles Police Department officers accused of assault and use of excessive force were acquitted. I’d just graduated from UCLA. I was at a friend’s apartment in Beverly Hills when the riots started. She and I then went to her father’s home in Malibu. At the time, I lived in South Central Los Angeles in the guest house behind the home I grew up in. Because my parents told me to stay where I was, for the first two days of the L.A. riots, I saw it on T.V. Even then, it was traumatic to see.
“Fast forward to 2020, there are new protests, and the same trauma is back. I thought the week would peak with the video of Amy Cooper going from zero to sixty when a black man, Christian Cooper, asked her to put her dog on its leash. They were in an area of Central Park where dogs have to be on a leash. For me, it was traumatizing because I’ve worked with and for Amys before, and that brought all of that back up. Then news about the murder of George Floyd’s breaks. It was recorded and sent out of the Internet for all to see. That was traumatizing, and I’ll admit that I’ve still not watched most of it. I’ve also not watched the video showing Ahmaud Arbery’s murder. I also knew about Breonna Taylor’s murder. She was shot eight times when officers served a no-knock warrant in the middle of the night. Then layer on all of that dealing with a pandemic and the daily slights of living in a racist world. (It’s not just in the United States.)
“I and a lot of black people I know are angry, frustrated, exhausted, and just numb right now. In spite of that, a lot of us are out there protesting. That’s also worrying. With all of these gatherings, how much quicker will this virus spread? How many more black bodies will it claim?
“With that, I want to say please think twice before putting more emotional strain on the black people you know. Check-in on them, but please understand that they’re tired and might not have the emotional bandwidth to go very deep especially if you’re not already a close friend. Go to Google, and search for ways to help. Don’t ask a black person what should you do. Please don’t center yourself. Most important, if we do choose to speak, listen.
“I want to say thank you to Bishop Marc, all of Grace Cathedral’s clergy, and to the Grace Cathedral community. The vast majority of you have been wonderful, empathetic, and supportive. Keep doing that. Please stay safe. Peace be with you, and God bless you and yours.”
— Regina Walton, Grace Cathedral Congregation Member and Convener of the San Francisco Deanery
By Lisa S. Wong, member of the Congregation Council and the Social Justice Committee
There’s a particular racism on the rise and each one of us has a role to play in stopping its spread.
I walk every day, rain or shine. This has been part of my daily routine for as long as I can remember. I walk because it gives me time to think and to pray. Most of the time, people passing by are so busy with their own lives, that they go about their business and leave me alone to my own thoughts. Recently though, that changed. The other day, a homeless man started yelling at me that I shouldn’t have brought “it” here. He was possibly on drugs or alcohol or mentally ill. He was also angry at me for bringing “it” here. I can only assume that the “it” he was referring to was the COVID-19 virus.
He picked me to yell at because of my face.
Did the man know that I’m a second-generation Chinese American San Franciscan unicorn? That I only speak English? That I haven’t travelled out of the country? That peanut butter is my favorite food?
Had he been open to seeing and listening to me, these are the things that I would have told him:
I’m more than my face. That the virus COVID-19 can make anyone sick (due to respiratory droplets spreading from person to person due to coughing, sneezing, or talking) regardless of their race or ethnicity. It is not a Chinese disease. You can’t catch the virus from eating Chinese food. COVID-19 has been reported in every continent except Antarctica.
There are many things we can do as a congregation to fight racism against Asians and people of Asian descent. We’re so proud of the letter sent by the Dean Malcom Young, Chapter and Staff of Grace Cathedral to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that endorsed the Board’s condemnation of the racialization of COVID-19. We’re also proud of the statement released by the San Francisco Interfaith Council (SFIC) addressing xenophobia and racism. We applaud the Executive Director of the SFIC, Michael Pappas, and the SFIC board members, including our Vice Dean and Canon for Social Justice, Dr. Ellen Clark-King, for their work on this statement, as well as our Bishop Marc Andrus for signing on to it. The Congregation Council will keep working to support our clergy and staff in their efforts to advocate for unity and togetherness. We also will be exploring ways in which we as a community can reach out to Asian and Asian American communities in the Bay Area. In the Year of Bridges, it seems that this is going to be a particularly important bridge to build.
We can also make a choice to educate ourselves on how to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe. We can take a stand with our neighbors who are Asian and of Asian-descent. We can speak up and educate when we hear or see racism. We can share information and links such as those at the end of this article with our loved ones and online communities. We can choose to be good, to be strong, to be wise, and most importantly, to be kind.
We are experiencing fear, anger, and hurt, as we adjust to our new lives. We have all been shaken like bottles of soda pop by recent events, and it will take a while for the bubbles to subside. We all have a role to play in this brave new world. Please choose to help, rather than to blame. Remember Fred Rogers’ mother’s advice to her son when he saw scary things: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” If you can’t find a helper, be a helper. Mr. Rogers’ said he was always glad to be your neighbor. Now is the time for us to show our gladness to all of our neighbors, including, especially, our Asian and Asian American neighbors. Be kind to your neighbor. She may be someone who is just going for a walk to think and to pray.
The coronavirus has created great hardship across our community and the world, and Grace Cathedral is taking action. In this personal address from inside the cathedral, Dean Malcolm Clemens Young shares highlights of our work distributing resources, building new bridges with God through technology and supporting those in need.