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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Virginia Tech: FAQ - Asian American Studies POV

A lot of us knows about the tragedies that have happened at Virginia Tech university. It is saddening to hear about the high number of deaths, and I hope that Virginia Tech will recover and heal the wounds that they have suffered.

In this blog submission, I will be talking about this incident from an Asian American Studies perspective. My qualifications is that I am a B.A. graduate of the College of Ethnic Studies', Asian American Studies, and that I am a graduate student in the M.A. program in the same topic.

A question that is asked: Why did a Korean American do this?
-I suggest that you read these articles: A Letter to My Sister by Lisa Park and Family Secrets: Transitional Struggles Among Children of Filipino Immigrants by Diane L. Wolf.

In both articles, it shows that within second generation Asian Americans (not just Filipinos) that they face multiple pressures (or "tugs and pulls" by author Wolf). Young Asian Americans face numerous issues, from pressure to succeed in school to get a good job (pressure by parents), being made fun of by their peers, illegal drug use, and many others.

When young second generation (people that have parents born outside of the United States, but being the first generation born in the USA) Asian Americans have psychological problems and need help, they are stuck in the middle of the problem, and the reason is that the support they receive is not meeting their expectations.

One resource is through the parents, but through traditional customs, the family members reject the use of outside professionals for help, but rely within the family structure to keep the problem a secret from outsiders, to not bring shame to the family name. The Asian American family structure for support is a social support.

The second resource is through professional psychologist or counselor, using the "American style" based on the individual. By going to a professional, the problems that a person faces is put forth by individualism, and that no family is truly involved in resolving the problem.

In Park's article, the "sister" character commits suicide because of multiple issues and not getting the proper help. In Wolf's article, interview subjects stated that they have considered suicide or dropping out of college as an option. There is no mention about committing a violent act, but some people do feel that they want to take revenge on the world before eliminating themselves.

What needs to happen is that there has to be an in-between service that Asian Americans can go to, where such people can get family support, and professional support, with the sensitivities of language barriers, and customs. We already have a few great resources out there for Asian Americans, including the APILO (Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach) and the Asian American Recovery Services. The Asian American Recovery Services have a program that you get specialized counseling for drug abuse, but the family is involved in the entire issue in order to not create a dominant social or individual approach, but a blend of both to make the person in question feel comfortable to get help.

The media should stop focusing on the individual itself and look at the family structure. How did the parents play a role in the pressures that the person faced? What outside pressures also did the student face?

A question that is frequently asked is: It is a shock that a fellow Asian American is the shooter?
-The answer, not really. Widely publicized major events like the sniper on the college clock tower and the Columbine incidents were done by aggressive, depressive, and suicidal white males. Shooters could be anyone for any particular reason, unfortunately, it was a South Korean "1.5 generation" American this time. A 1.5 generation person is someone that came to the United States at a young age, being both raised in their home country and the United States.

Will this bring fear of Asian or Korean antisemitism?
The answer, I don't really know, until all the dust clears. What I can say is that since the media plays a major role in the influence of people's thinking, they may shape that all college students may or may not have to fear other Asian Americans for doing bad acts. I don't like the fact that the media targets the shooter as a "loner" because there may be a belief that Asians are "loners" and are at risk of committing such an act.

Racial profiling by police?
-I believe that it could happen because Asian Americans are a minority. You can't really "profile" a white person that may be a shooter, but it seems easier to target a minority group, like Koreans and Asian Americans.

Last comments:
The odds of being shot and killed in such an incident is 1 in 1.4 million. Your odds of being struck by lightning is better than that. Also, because of this major headline in the press, it seems that nobody is really thinking about the car bombings and high number of deaths in Iraq, and it seems that the US Attorney General will be getting the heat off of him for now, instead of being front page news, he's just a little blurb on the back page.

For now, that's all I can think of. If you have any questions you would like to ask this person that specialized in Asian American Studies, please post the question in the comments section of this blog on akit.org (not on Feedburner).

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