VA Tech

Original entry and comments: http://cherryteresa.greatestjournal.com/2007/04/17/

My hearts go out to the students, faculty, staff, and the friends of family of the victims of the Virgina Tech tragedy. I know there have been colleges/universities with school shootings in the past, but to me it is more surprising when it happens at a college rather than a high school, middle school, or even elementary school. The reason is that the students generally want to be in college but people in high school and under have no choice. So if they hate it, they’re pretty much stuck unless they can somehow transfer. But of course, the shootings can happen anywhere as people with mental and emotional problems can occur anywhere and of any age, class, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

I don’t want to sound paranoid and I don’t want to make this tragedy into something else, but I just can’t help but feel the way I do. I am worried that because the killer has been identified as a 23 year-old student originally from South Korea that there will be added racism to Koreans, Korean-Americans and even Asians and Asian-Americans who aren’t Korean. I hope that I am wrong about this. But based on how Koreans are treated as it is and based on how people have reacted to tragedies in the past, this is a real possibility. Some people I know don’t think there is much racism out there for anyone other than African-Americans or Jews. They have no idea. Just a couple weeks ago while I was driving home from work, another driver yelled out the window out to me “You g–k b–ch!” My mother works at the post office and it is not uncommon for customers to say racist things to her to her face. (Telling her to go back to her own country – even though she is a U.S. citizen, asking “can someone White help me?”, are just examples of what people have actually said to her). I constantly hear “jokes” about Asians (and Hispanics) from people who never tell jokes about Black or Jewish people. The n word and k word are bleeped out on non-cable tv while the g word and the ch word usually aren’t. I have had people call me a terrorist, even though I was born here and even if I wasn’t, my family is South Korean. Kim Jong-Il is from North Korea. They are two separate countries for a reason! Even if I were from North Korea, chances are I wouldn’t be a terrorist. Most of the citizens aren’t terrorists and if I had actually went through all the trouble and the huge possibility of death to actually come to America, that would mean that I didn’t like North Korea. (Although it is almost impossible to escape N. Korea to come to America).

There are many other misconceptions and stereotypes of Koreans, but that’s another subject altogether. You take the racism that already exists and look at the way people have reated to tragedies such as Columbine and 9-11, and it makes it almost scary for me to be a Korean-American right now. I was in high school during Columbine. Many people who wore black clothing or kept to themselves were labeled as school shooters. Many schools around the country even suspended students for simply the way they dressed and some schools to this day have ridiculously strict dress codes or mandatory uniforms (these are public schools) because of Columbine. The fact remains that most people who dress “artistically” and listen to a certain type of music don’t go around shooting people. I’d dare to say most are actually anti-gun or at the very least believe in gun control. More “average Joes” have been the killers in school/college shootings but no one points that out. And of course, after 9-11 and to this day, Muslims and basically anyone with dark skin who doesn’t look Black, Hispanic, or Latino are harassed and labelled as terrorists. The overwhelming majority of Muslims do not agree with what happened that day and their actions were actually against the Muslim religion. Saying that the terrorists were Muslim and represent the Muslim religion is like saying David Korresh (or however you spell his name) accurately represented Christians. It just isn’t true. This fact is pointed out constantly by many people. Even George w. Bush points this out. Yet people still have a hatred towards all Muslims, not just the ones who are terrorists. Do these people forget that those “Muslims” actually hate the Muslim-Americans. Do people not realize that Muslim-Americans also died in 9-11? It’s something that’s been brought up since 2001, but is still worth mentioning since many people still continue to be prejudice.

There are very few well-known Koreans in American culture. This is something that has always bothered me. Now that there is someone “famous”, it is for something extremely negative. Unfortunately, many people rely too much on media. I’m afraid that Koreans will now be stereo-typed as loners who can snap at any time. I also hope this won’t make people think that we “shouldn’t allow foreigners” in here anymore. What would piss me off if that happens is those same people would use the tragedy to not allow others in, but not see it as a reason for gun control. I’m not going to say that American culture is necessarily the reason why the tragedy happened. But I do want it to be known it’s not Korean culture either. The shooter lived in this country for 14 years, since he was 8 years old. Private ownership of guns is banned in South Korea and there are no known school shootings in the country. I’m worried these facts will be overlooked. Also, a South Korean student was injured. That will probably also be overlooked.

I really hope that I am wrong about this but history has a tendency to repeat itself. I really hope this horrible tragedy of lives lost and people injured does not turn into another tragedy of harassment and racism.

I know I am not the only one who’s worried as I’ve read reports today that South Korean and Korean-Americans on the Virginia Tech campus have gathered in groups because they are scared about how dangerous it could be for them right now. Imagine how vulnerable and unsafe all the students must feel after a shooter. Now imagine adding to that the fear of what others may do because of your race or nationality.

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