* Korean-Americans at this moment are worried about a racist backlash by whites against all Korean-Americans and Asian-Americans en masse. This worry is giving them serious pause in attending VT memorial events even though they want to show their sympathies.
* This worry is rooted in a few realities that are harder to deny now. Many whites racialize Americans of Asian descent as Asian first, American second. Many US permanent residents of Korean descent have little desire to be an American. These two realities reinforce each other.
* Most whites at this moment are not connecting this killer’s race with his having committed mass murder.
* Americans will not likely respond to this South Korean’s intentional killing of 32 Americans the way South Koreans responded to an American’s accidental killing of two S. Korean girls. Unless, South Korea expresses more concern about a racist-backlash against them than about the harm done to the VT community by one of their own.
* The invisible Asian male in American society is now more visible.
* Korean-American organizations are now debating whether to convey publicly their condolescences on behalf of Korean-Americans to the VT community lest they come across as unsympathetic, or not to do so collectively as a KA group lest they give them the impression (which was not previously there) that this massacre was somehow related to KA culture.
* Many Korean-Americans upon hearing more descriptions of the killer by whites (“a loner”; “social outcast”; “just said a few words”) are saying to themselves, “That’s like me”.
Some lines in the media that I think various groups need to wrestle with:
WP 4/21/07: “Because Cho did well in school, his mother did not seem very determined to get treatment for him, Kim added.”
For South Koreans:
WP 4/20/07: “South Korea’s ambassador to Washington, Lee Tae Shik, spoke at a candlelight vigil Tuesday night in Fairfax County. Through tears, he said that the Korean American community needed to “repent,” and he suggested a 32-day fast, one day for each victim, to prove that Koreans were a “worthwhile ethnic minority in America.””
SFG 4/19/07: “Once, in English class, the teacher had the students read aloud, and when it was Cho’s turn, he just looked down in silence, Davids recalled. Finally, after the teacher threatened him with an F for participation, Cho started to read in a strange, deep voice that sounded “like he had something in his mouth,” Davids said. “As soon as he started reading, the whole class started laughing and pointing and saying, `Go back to China,'” Davids said.