Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sa-i-gu Response

I thought this was a great addition to the list of films and documentaries we have watched, as it addressed the LA. riots through a viewpoint that was excluded from the media coverage during the riots. As the filmmakers note before the documentary, the main portrayals of Korean Americans during the riots were of storekeepers holding guns to keep their property safe and of a Korean American storekeeper shooting an African American in the back of the head. This documentary is a response to those media images, hoping to bring to light the emotional experiences of Korean Americans in proof that they did care about human life, and did not discard human life for the sake of their property. The viewpoints of the women interviewed were varied, which provided for an interesting backdrop to their experience of the riots.

One viewpoint that I found interesting was when one woman compared the Korean Americans to “sacrificial lambs” in an expression of her frustration over how the LAPD did not take any action during the looting of the Korean American stores. I found this statement summarized the racial tensions expressed among the Korean Americans, African Americans, and white people that were a huge part of the riots. I can only imagine how Korean Americans felt when watching media coverage, as looters raided stores with police officers standing and watching nearby. With police officers usually acting as symbols of peace and protection, their inactivity during the riots led to a crisis in the Korean women’s hopes of coming to America to give their children a better life. There were varied responses from the women when talking about African Americans, as some seemed aware that there were negative views of Koreans from African Americans while others were more upset over the police inactivity and blamed other races. One woman almost seemed to blame other Koreans for treating African American customers poorly, as she emphasized that storekeepers need to be a part of the community, which includes placing money in customers’ hands and bagging all of their goods. After the credits, the filmmakers address the fact that some of the comments in the documentary are racist, as they believe that by leaving these views in as opposed to editing it out will provoke discussion and reexamination of personal views. I agree with their point of view, for nothing about race relations could have been discussed if the filmmakers had sugarcoated and edited out these views. Since these women were interviewed only three months after the riots happened, their emotions still run strong, as seen by some of the things they say in their interviews. They are still in shock that their life earnings that went towards a store are completely gone, which could lead to an unearthing of their frustrations and taking it out on others as a result.

Although this documentary focused solely on Korean American women, it did bring up aspects that I thought would be interesting to explore more thoroughly. For example, one woman talks about how her African American employees called and told her to stay at home, and that they would try to protect the store as best as they could. I wanted to learn more about these people, as it seems they sat right at the axis between Korean and African American tensions. What were their views of the riots?

No comments: