On Silence, Solidarity, and Servant Leadership

This is a time of shame and sorrow. A time of anger and anguish. For Asian Americans and the TAF community, it must also be a time of reflection and resolution. And, we vow, a time of solidarity and servant leadership.

Like many of you, we’re pained by the tragic and unnecessary deaths of so many Americans recently. While we mourn the loss of over one hundred thousand people from COVID-19, our hearts hurt with the murders of so many Black Americans at the hands of police: George, David, Breonna, Ahmaud, Eric, Sandra, Freddie, Tamir, Akai, Laquan, and Michael.

Consider that these deaths — among so many others — take place within a broader context of violence against minorities, as we remember Nina and Tony. Trayvon and Latasha. Huayi, Weizhong, Wen-Chen, Vincent, and Kuanchung. Such rare incidents within our community only give us a small glimpse into the lived reality of Black Americans. Black lives matter.

We must reckon with our own silence and complicity as Asian Americans, reflect upon our roles as leaders at TAF, and resolve ourselves to more actively fight anti-blackness in our community.

For forty years now, TAF has been dedicated to developing servant leaders with empathy, compassion, and grace who will grow to make a profound impact upon humankind.

We must do more.

TAF’s focus has always been on connecting with our roots and creating safe soil to nurture our young leaders. However, we have not done enough to provide a nuanced context of the world we inhabit, a society in which minority groups, especially Black Americans, have been systematically oppressed for hundreds of years. This is the air TAFers must sprout into and oxygenate.

  • In focusing upon the discrimination inflicted upon our own people, have we neglected acknowledging the discrimination Asian Americans have been complicit in inflicting upon the Black community?
  • In focusing upon our own fears and weaknesses, have we neglected to teach our campers about the immense strengths and privileges our community holds?
  • In focusing upon building up our own people and instilling the values of servant leadership, have we neglected to link those values and skills to better address anti-black racism in our own community or in society at large?

These are some of the questions TAF has been thinking about as an organization, and we encourage TAF families to join us in having these discussions while letting our mission and vision guide us towards change.

  • TAF supports the Black community not just because there are Black members of our TAF family, but because serving others besides ourselves is the moral thing to do.
  • TAF supports the Black community not just because Black civil rights leaders advocated for the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which created the legal pathways for Taiwanese America’s existence, but because serving others demands nothing in return.
  • TAF supports the Black community not just because Taiwanese people know what happens when peaceful protests are violently met with state-sponsored violence, but because we believe in empathy and sharing the pain and sorrow of our neighbors.

As a forest of servant leaders, we must help the world breathe. Moving forward, TAF commits ourselves to the following actions:

  • TAF commits ourselves to educating our campers about racism in general and, specifically, anti-blackness. While the creation of a safe space that celebrates a diversity of personal perspectives is important, we must do more to educate each other about the world we reside in and the neighbors we share it with.
  • TAF commits ourselves to providing and connecting TAFers with the resources they need year-round to form their own opinions and choose their own path in advocating for progress in their everyday lives.
  • TAF commits ourselves to creating workshops and fostering dialogue on issues of social justice and civic activism.
  • TAF commits ourselves to lending organizational and financial support to TAFers leading passionate change in unique and compassionate ways.

We know we have a lot to work on; we welcome your feedback, and hope you’ll help by holding us accountable to our values. As our community moves forward and heals from disease and violence, TAF will continue our mission of encouraging personal growth and developing servant leadership. We urge everyone reading this to remind themselves of the empathy, understanding, and love we share at TAF — and to use this shared passion to create a safe space for ourselves and our neighbors. We’re proud to see TAFers knowledge-sharing, counseling, protesting, organizing, fundraising, and making a profound impact — not only on Taiwanese America, but on humankind.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Not inevitably, but by our own blood, sweat, and tears.

With hope and gratitude,

Vincent Huang
Pei-Lynn Juang