Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Student Newspaper

Here's the link. The grief I feel is almost overwhelming. I pray for the friends and families and I hold my daughters tighter than ever.


Keith Sunahara said...

After the initial shock and dismay from the reports of the shooting, a strange thing happened to me as the story unfolded. When it was announced that an Asian was the shooter, I felt a deep sense of disappointment and thought to myself "oh no". But later when the announcement came out that the shooter was Korean, I felt a sense of relief (I'm Japanese-American). Reactions?

thaberean said...

We African-Americans have the same reaction in these situations (I did the exact same thing you did in this tragic situation).

Personally, I think our reaction is one of the residuals (part of the awful legacy) of racism in America. Many 'minorities' grow up with the pressure of trying to be 'better than' those in the dominant racial group to counter the expectation or stereotype that we are inferior. An effect is this 'burden' we feel when members of our ethnic/racial group does something wrong -- we wrongly but naturally feel a sense of responsibility because we carry the burden of our race on our backs (we're working to fight stereotypes). That's my take on why we go through this angst, even when we are ashamed and don't want to.

On top of this reason, I also think I responded as you did because I've learned this response from the adults around me. I remember on many occasions as a kid growing up and hearing my mother, aunt, grandmother, etc. say, in similar situations, "Lord, I hope it wasn't a Black man who did that," just as I recall numerous admonitions to be well-behaved, good in school, and so on because I already have one strike against me (my race) and because white society will tolerate laxity in members of their own race, but they won't tolerate the same in me (and they'll attribute it to our race).

I think it is sad how the history of racism has left such an awful legacy, which makes cross-racial relationships so complex and layered.

I commend you, though, for being vulnerable enough to share your experience and put this on the table.

Arloa Sutter said...

I, too, commend you for your honesty Keith. I guess one thing we can learn is that this kind of horror cut through race and culture and affects us all. As an Asian minority in America it makes sense that you would hope that your people would not experience the association and the backlash that can result from one person's behavior. Our ethnicity runs deep and frames our world views. Another thought is that we need to guard against stereotyping. After 9-11 it became difficult for Arabs to travel, etc. It would be interesting to hear what those of you who are Korean are feeling about this.

kimorelock said...

As a Korean-American, I was hoping that it wasn't a Korean who did this and when I found it was, it produced an "oh great" reaction in me. Had he been Chinese or Japanese, I wouldn't have had the same reaction. But, as we're so tied up about race in this country, I regretted that the "worst mass shooting in American history" was to be perpetrated by a Korean and I do worry about the backlash.

But, that reaction was miniscule compared to the grief I felt for that community and those parents.

Here's an interesting article on the topic: