Sunday, April 13, 2008

sa-i-gu

Before watching this documentary, I was pretty ignorant of how the much the LA riots impacted the Korean community. I thought it was a remarkable stat of how the 200,000 Koreans living in the LA county incurred almost have of the total losses. Through the stories of three Korean American women who lived through the riots, a very complete picture was painted from many angles. As pointed out in the previous post, a common theme was the idea of America as a utopia for these immigrants. They believed that as long as they worked hard, they could capture the American Dream and live a happy life. However, they soon realized that financial success and opportunity was not just going to be handed out. America has a myriad of problems and issues, most notably of which deals with the color of people's skin. This issue of race has held back the overall growth of America on countless occasions.

I found the quotes on how Koreans were "white-washed" and how the media was responsible for catalyzing the event very interesting. I think this highlights one of the major differences between the attitudes of these racial minorities. The black community does not place an emphasis on education and upward mobility in the social hierarchy in the same way Koreans or other Asians do. If someone is black and successful, the surrounding black community has a tendency to shun that individual and think of them as an "Oreo" who does not stay true to their roots. Meanwhile, acting white and following the blueprint for success laid out by white society in America is praised in the Asian community. Being called a "Twinkie" in the Asian American community does not evoke the same feeling (an can sometimes stir just the opposite feelings) as being called an "Oreo" in the black community. Therefore, Asians can be viewed as aligned with the white community and just as responsible for the oppression against blacks. I think Asian Americans can get sucked into this mindset of capturing the American Dream and becoming like the white community can influence race relations from the Asian American perspective as well. It goes back to the discussion in class about how "at least we are not black" and the idea of being a white American means oppressing African Americans. This mindset illustrates the reasoning behind the commentary in the documentary on how some Koreans "did not treat black people as human beings".

I think Ice Cube's racially charged song "Black Korea" is an interesting commentary on the Korean versus black conflict. His song highlights the fact Koreans, like white America, became too wrapped up in the ideals of capitalism and their own financial success that they fail to ever put society before their own individual efforts. Unfortunately, while this may be the case, his explicit lyrics do more harm and merely publicize the problem than educate young African Americans about history in search for a solution. There is no balance, or even a mentioning of a counter argument from the Korean American standpoint in his lyrics. This song further strains the already fragile relationship between the black and Korean communities by creating even more fear and distrust.

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