Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reading Between The Lines

I stayed up late last night despite a monstrous headache, intolerable of loud noise and bright lights. I watched the special reports of what is going on at Virgina Tech and the global reactions.

Not surprisingly, the blogosphere is blowing up. What's happening at VT, appropriately, has the world reacting. In my natural tendencies with tragedy and deep events, I observe and take in the event before I really have an opinion. The two things I can see at this point is that there is still so much unknown and people are debating as to whether race is at all a part of this.

The young woman who was first killed in the residence hall is speculated NOT to have any relationship with the gunman. The young man who was killed trying to help was a resident assistant. He apparently had no relation to her, except being her RA, or the gunman either. All the news is covering is why why why and there is no connection yet found. I, like, everyone else am simply broken by this senselessness and am quiet with sorrow. Thirty three people died and through witness testimony, I cannot fathom the level of hysteria and fear that University must have experienced that day.

As for the debate around race, well, really, is there any surprise? All different kinds of asian groups and representatives, including the governement of South Korea have issued some form of an statement which includes some apologies. Is it just me, or is that slightly flabbergasting? We're ALL sorry, we're ALL reacting to this together, but because the gunman was originally born in South Korea, but has lived in the US for 15 years and was a legal citizen, an entire country is expected to issue a statement? Or perhaps they were fearful of what the US might do if they did not?

The bottom line, for me, is that you must read between the lines of the Asian diaspora to understand that race is an issue. You must be able to read the fine print even though so many will claim you are reading something that is not there. Trust me, it's there. Race is alluded to the lives of people of color every damn day of their lives and once it's in conversation and you bring us race the response is usually,"Why does race always have to be a part of it? It has nothing to do with it."

I don't know. Ask the folks in charge (even though I guarantee they'll have a lame answer), or ask the media why it allows racially charged articles to be printed that are anti-asian, anti-immigration, and think immediately of terrorism. Ask the folks who asked random asians for comment. Ask yourself.

The actions of Seung-Hui Cho are as dispicable, tragic, sad, and horrific as a human can do. My reaction is not singular. I do see race, but I also see it mixed with questions surrounding mental wellness, isolation, assimilation, community, and an unknown family background.

It's a time for mourning, and I don't doubt there are enough people trying to accuse, blame, and propose negative stereotypes. Really, is that any different from any other day in the USA after tragedy?


  1. I have no words. The anger in the world in contrast to the petty concerns of my life still astounds me. In response I would like to say that I still love people (including Asians, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, Middle Eastern folks, African Americans, people of European descent, Native Americans) All of the tribes of this one earth we share were created by a Power far more benevolent, far more loving, far more wise than ourselves.

  2. Anonymous11:40 PM

    Again, you stress that race is an issue, then criticize the media for talking about it. Is it better to ignore it? I feel like that would be criticized as well.

    I see no reason South Korea, or South Koreans, need to be asked about or apologize for any of this. Yet, in several articles I've read, the South Koreans interviewed DO feel a special tie to the story, and they are worried and upset about its aftermath. Is the proper response for the media to ignore that? If so, who are the authorized, non-"random" Koreans they should interivew?

    I guess I'm curious exactly what you want the media to do.

    I do share your shock and concern about the whole situation, though.

  3. Anonymous,
    Race IS an issue, always. But how that plays out in the lives of people of color and how that plays out in the media are two separate points.

    The media can cover race, I don't have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is that Cho, before any other pertinent information, was constantly referred to as an Asian man. Slight problem with the vernacular in that situation. Before any solid information was released, there were national an local reports asking Asian American communities to respond. I agree, if the gunman had been of Filipino descent, there definitely would be some conversations about that in my family. Connection is on e thing, but if a camera came up in my face to ask me what I think about the situation purely because I'm the same race as the gunman. BULLSHIT.

    That's how the media covers race. That's what I have a problem with.

  4. Anonymous6:13 PM

    Fair enough if they were asking all Asians what they thought. I didn't see that, but I'd agree that's ridiculous.

    I do think it is fair to report that it was an Asian man, though, particularly when they weren't sure if he was at large or not. That's not racial profiling or stereotype: That's simple description of the perpetrator.

  5. Anonymous9:19 PM

    The media certainly didn't harp on Dylan and Klebold being white, Anonymous. Why doesn't the average American understand these things? Hello, double-standards, anyone?



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