Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Thoughts about the Virginia Tech shootings...

So I'm still reeling about hearing about the Virginia Tech shootings today where 32 people were killed by an Asian man who then committed suicide.

I'm also waiting to hear about the inevitable backlash against Asians as a result of this, the discussions of Asian families and the inevitable unrealistic expectations of Asians in colleges by their families and parents, the discussions about child abuse among Asian Americans; the shame that the gunman's family will now have to endure. There probably won't be a suicide note--from all the anecdotes that I've heard of friends and acquaintances who are Asian men who've killed themselves, they've left no record, no signs that they were planning to do something like this until it's too late. Maybe there'll be something on the guy's computer, but he's probably too meticulous to leave such damning evidence.

I think about the worlds that 20-somethings inhabit, too old to be considered teenagers, but too green to realize that everything they go through will pass and that the events that are going on are just really small parts of our lives. I remember thinking that all the drama I was going through in my early 20s meant that my life was always going to suck, and I can look back now and see how childish I was.

I also think about how insensitive many of us have become to violence, and that personally, to see someone like myself, instead of some crazy white supremacist or a fundamentalist religious zealot, being able to pull a trigger and cause so much destruction and to not care, is shocking and disturbing.

I'm hoping on one level that this will finally begin a real discussion on Asians in American society, and I'm oddly fascinated to see how this will play into how Asians, particularly Asian men, will be seen as a result. Given that Asian men are probably one of the most invisible groups in American society, it'll make people stop and think. Will this, in a very, very twisted way, prove our masculinity? Or just show that we can be as fucking crazy as everybody else?

I also think about what would cause someone to snap and how this guy became so desperate and crazy enough to kill so many people, especially since this isn't the first time that an Asian man was at the center of such an incident (namely the Filipino American guy who almost caused a similar tragedy in De Anza College near my hometown). What would drive someone to act with such callous disregard?

Is this going to cause some Asian American families to re-evalaute how they treat their kids? I hope so. I really hope so. I've just heard too many stories by other Asian Americans and the insane amount of pressure we get by our parents and families to succeed and do well, to get married, to be an upstanding (and silent) part of American society--and how this causes a lot of us to seek therapy--or to act out in self-destructive means.

Will this change American perceptions of Asian men? Undoubtedly. How, I don't know. I'm kinda scared to find out, honestly.

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