The part of the documentary Sai-I-Gu that struck me the most was when the mother of the Korean boy who was shot described seeing the photograph of the dead body in the newspaper. She stated that she did not believe that it was her soon at first because he was wearing a black shirt in the photograph and that her son was wearing a white shirt that day. It turned out to be her son though, and the black shirt was really a white shirt soaked in blood. It was difficult to see this distinction because the photograph was published in black and white. Of all of the horrific aspects described in the documentary, I found this one narrative the most gripping. I wish that the documentary could have spent a few more minutes on this account because I think it illustrates the confusion and utter bewilderment experienced by the Asian community during the riots.
I think that the documentary failed to give enough background on the riots and the factors that led to them. I would have liked a little bit more history given on the situation of Los Angeles in the early 1990s and the race relations and tensions between blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians at the time. I thought it was really interesting when we talked about this in class because when I learned about the LA Riots in my Violence and the Media class (ANTH12511 with Kay Warren if anyone is interested), we never spoke about it from an Asian perspective.
The female voices of the documentary described how there were two video clips/images depicting Asians during the riots that kept on being shown over and over again by the media. To the best of my knowledge, they never showed these two clips to the audience, and I really wish that they had so I would have been able to better understand how outsiders interpreted the situation.
I think it would be really interesting to make a follow up documentary with what the situation of Los Angeles now is like and if, 16 years later, progress has been made in rebuilding the Asian shops. Some of the Asian shopkeepers in the documentary said it took them 10-15 years to build their stores originally, so I am be curious to see whether they have been rebuilt or abandoned. I wonder what the relationship between Asians and the LAPD is today. I have a feeling that this is not something the Asian population could just have simply forgotten and moved on in their lives…
Attached to this post is the link to the actual footage of the Rodney King beating in case anyone is interested. It’s something that everyone should see.