In the wake of last week’s Virginia Tech shootings, universities around the country are asking whether they are prepared for a similar occurrence - and the Asian-American community is wondering how the country will treat them as a result.
Last Monday, Korean-American student Seung-Hui Cho went on a shooting spree on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, that left 27 students and five faculty members dead. Altough Cho had a long history of mental illness when he commited his crime, members of the Asian-American community fear that the focus on his nationality - rather then his mental illness - will cause a public backlash against Asian Americans.
In response, Asian-American students at UCSB are hosting a panel with UCSB faculty to discuss the perceptions of Asian-Americans post-Virginia Tech tonight at the SB Harbor Room in the UCen from 6 to 8 p.m.
Pablo Kim, head of the UCSB chapter of the Korean-American Coalition, is one of the main organizers of the event and said he hopes tonight’s panel will attract many non-Asians.
“The purpose of this event is to educate people about the incorrect perception of Asian Americans, and this discussion is aimed primarily to the non-Asian community,” Kim said. “The reactions Asians are having toward the shootings is that Cho was mentally ill, but non-Asians might bring into account Cho’s nationality.”
Kim hopes the discussion will help prevent negative reactions to the Asian community, although he said he has already felt such ridicule.
“People have given me nasty looks at least a couple of times since the shootings occurred,” Kim said.
One of the evening’s panelist is Asian American Studies Professor Diane Fujino, who said she will speak about the reaction in the Asian-American community.
“Asians, particularly the older Korean community, are afraid that this will harm people’s perception of them as a ‘model minority,’” Fujino said.
Fujino is also afraid of the effects this will have on all Asians, not just Koreans, beacause Americans tend to mix all Asians into a single category.
“Americans tend to conflate Asians into a single ‘other,’ and this case is receiving extra media attention because it was perpetrated by an Asian,” Fujino said. [Link]
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