urgency for the Asian American community

May 8, 2007

Angela J. Lee, a graduate student in English at Cal Poly at Pomona recently wrote this article The Yellow Debris of the Virginia Tech Shooting [pdf], published in KASTN 07-21, 5/23/2007, which notes the urgency for reaching and rebuilding the Asian American community and its role within American society:

… So now, ten days later, the initial shock and horror caused by this incident are slowly dying down, and mainstream America seems fairly convinced that this shooting was simply an act of one crazy individual who “happened” to be Asian. Many people seem to agree that we, as Korean Americans, should not feel the need to apologize for what happened at Virginia Tech because we’re not like Seung Hui.

… No matter how “Americanized” we are, we can’t help but to feel right at home when we’re surrounded by other Koreans or Asians.

… And yes, many Korean Americans grow up in dysfunctional homes and do not necessarily turn out to be a cold-blooded murderer. But as I said earlier, this is no longer about me, you, or your immediate family and friends. This is about those in our community — our brothers, sisters, cousins, parents, grandparents, and more importantly, our children and their children — to prevent something like this from ever happening again. Instead of turning our backs in shame or disgust at the atrocious crime committed by a fellow Korean, and calling ourselves to be more American than Korean, we have to recognize the urgency to reach out to others in our community and further, repair some of the damages caused by our previous generation. I understand the hardships of immigrant life all too well because, I, like many of you, have lived it. I saw, first hand, how hard-working, diligent, honest, and strong our parents can be. But on the other hand, I saw many Korean Americans struggling to bridge the gap between two conflicting cultures by trying to assimilate into the American society, while still fulfilling our parents’ very “Korean” expectations. I also witnessed many Korean parents turning the other way, and simply refusing to believe the harsh realities of their children’s lives due to feelings of shame, disgrace, and perhaps, filial duty to their mother country. No matter what the reason is, this is a time for us to re-examine, re-explore, and re-think about our roles in our American society, as well as our duty to our Korean community.

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