Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Asian America after the Atlanta Shooting

Even though we were together, each member of my immigrant family—father, mother, me, and my younger brother—went through his or her own individual journey of immigrant life. Only recently have I come to appreciate how remarkable my mother’s journey was.

Born in 1952 and growing up in a small city in Korea, she faced the ambient sexism of the time that demanded that women be uneducated and obedient housewives. My mother overcame that prevailing current of her life with outstanding intellect and flinty determination. In a time when higher education was a pipe dream even for most Korean men, she left home and attended a teacher’s college on a full scholarship. There, she learned English, and won a grant that put her in a study abroad program in New Zealand, in all likelihood making her the first Korean woman who visited the country from her small town. Unlike most of her peers, she was college educated, internationally sophisticated, and had a successful professional career as a teacher at a prestigious private high school.

Our immigration was her idea. She saw that her two sons were chafing at the restrictive Korean school system, and wanted us to be in a freer atmosphere. She was unafraid to move to an entirely new country at 45 years old, well into her middle age. But our migration was ill-timed: the East Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, and our unscrupulous immigration attorney, wiped out much our family’s net worth. We lived in a series of crappy little houses in Southern California, dealing with nasty landlords who never fixed any broken thing. My brother and I would wait for a once-a-week special from the neighborhood McDonald’s, when it would sell ten hamburgers for 99 cents. For years, that was the only treat we could have, because cheeseburgers were too expensive.

Our run-down life deeply wounded my mother’s pride. In our early days in the US, she spent days in a cold-burning rage because a well-meaning neighbor lady suggested that my mother should find work, and the Korean supermarket nearby was hiring a cashier. Cashier, my mother spat the word with contempt, as if she was firing a spent chewing tobacco into a spittoon. Do I look like a cashier? When our fancy furniture and dinnerware finally arrived from Seoul after months of shipping, my mother made a point of serving tea to the neighborhood lady in our nicest tea set, just to make clear that despite her current conditions, she was simply not the type of person who worked at a supermarket.

Instead, my mother did what she does best: she studied to be a teacher, again. At age 48, she passed the exam to earn the teacher’s credential for the State of California. She began as a substitute teacher, then was hired as a full-time teacher, teaching Korean in high schools throughout the Los Angeles County. By the time she retired, she was teaching at the magnet high school in our town, the one for which my brother and I were too stupid to attend. We would joke that, in our immigration that was done for the sake of education, mom was the biggest winner of our family.

All this is to say: my remarkable immigrant mother would refuse to be associated with the Korean American masseuses who were killed in Atlanta last week.

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On March 16, a deranged racist attacked several Asian American owned spas in the Atlanta metro area, killing eight. Six were Asian American women. The killer claimed that he was a sex addict who wanted to “eliminate temptation”—a claim that’s not only disgusting but also bitterly ironic, because those spas were not brothels, nor were the murdered women sex workers. The four Korean American victims, who were masseuses and helps at the spas, were aged 74, 69, 63 and 51. The shooting served as a terrible allegory of the increasing amount of violence that Asian Americans have been facing in the past year: an act of violence occurring at a racialized space (an “Asian massage parlor”), targeted against the most vulnerable demographics, namely women and the elderly.

(More after the jump.)

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Reacting to the shocking killing, Asian American writers and thought leaders have been airing out the numerous different manners in which they were discriminated, reaching high and low, from all kinds of angles. Asian American historians drew a throughline of violence against Asian Americans stretching back for 150 years, starting with the Chinese Exclusion Act and going through the lynching of Chinese rail workers, the Japanese American Internment, the murder of Vincent Chin and the racist violence against South Asians post 9/11. Asian American foreign policy experts said the US’s adversarial posture against China is contributing to anti-Asian American hate crimes. Congressman Andy Kim shared a story in which the State Department pre-emptively denied him from an assignment regarding North Korea because of his Korean heritage. Connie Chung lamented that the media was “miserably late” in covering anti-Asian violence, because news rooms were not interested in Asian American stories.

Asian American women writers pointed out that racist violence against Asians often take on misogynistic forms, as the American image of Asians is sexualized. Several Asian American writers noted that the police mangled the names of the Asian American victims, and the mainstream US society’s inability to deal with Asian names was another form of subtle violence. Pop culture writers connected the mainstream media’s stereotypical depiction of Asians—including K-pop superstars like BTS—with the American society’s continued treatment of Asian Americans as foreigners. Many Asian Americans shared their own story of racist violence and intimidation—slurs hurled at them, racist gestures made at them, or microaggressions like being mistaken for a different Asian person, reminding them that Americans did not see them as one of their own.

All fair points, and I personally experienced several of them. I know my Asian American history, I adopted a Christian name for the sake of easier pronunciation, and people at my workplace frequently assume I’m just visiting US from one of the Asia offices of my company. But even as I nod along in empathy at each rendition of these stories, I come away with a nagging feeling that these stories are inadequate. It’s good to have these stories out there. But it’s not good enough, when the stories we told have settled into the ground, and there we see eight dead bodies.

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Many have argued that the horrific tragedy of Atlanta shooting may give rise to a new and unified political consciousness for Asian Americans. I would like that result, but I’m not so sure if it will happen.

When the news of the shooting broke, I was revisiting what I consider the best article about migration into South Korea, titled Globalization Through the Eyes of Rural Areas by writer Im Myeong-muk. Im recalls that as he grew up in a small town in Korea, the first non-Koreans he met were migrant laborers and mail order brides from China, Vietnam, Pakistan and Central Asia who spoke survival level Korean. Then, as he was undergoing a doctorate at a prestigious university in Seoul, the composition of foreigners he met changed dramatically: they were usually white people from US, Canada or Europe, speaking exclusively English. Seeing this disparity, Im said Korea was undergoing two different types of globalization:
The globalization is happening in two separate worlds: one inhabited by people who speak fluent English and travel to cities around the world, and the other inhabited by people who survive with physical labor, working in rural areas far outside of the capital city. …

The gap between the two worlds will only continue to grow. Korea’s urban middle class will want to raise their children in an international atmosphere, and Seoul, the attractive metropolis, will continue to draw people from all over the world. Meanwhile, most of the rural areas will face extinction [because of population decline], and will increasingly rely on foreign migrant labor as the last resort. In this situation, I worry that the people of the “upper globalization” will not understand those in the “lower globalization.”
South Korea is thousands of miles away from the United States, and its history of immigration is short compared to the United States’. Nonetheless, the description of the two globalizations struck at the heart of my discomfort. What if, instead of imagining “Asian America” as a unitary body traveling through history, we imagined it as a story of different streams of migrations, collecting eventually into two pools?

The discourse about Asian America rests on the two pillars of cliches. First, Asian Americans are the successful “model minority,” and second, Asian Americans are not a monolith. Asian Americans are more educated and disproportionately represented in the high-earning white-collar profession, but Asian Americans are simultaneously less educated and poor. This apparent contradiction is typically explained in terms of Asian Americans’ national origin: for example, Cambodians, Laos, Hmong and Vietnamese immigrated to the US as war refugees, while Filipino nurses and Indian software engineers arrived at the US already as middle class.

But a story of Asian America based on “two globalizations” paints a more accurate picture than the one based on national origin. Some immigrants, and/or their children, have the wherewithal to plug themselves into the service industry that forms the upper crust of the US economy. Other immigrants, and/or their children, do not, and are swept into a different flow of migration that follows the demands for physical labor or, frequently among women, companionship with American men. (Of the six Asian American women slain in Atlanta, at least two—Xiaojie Tan and Yong Ae Yue—moved to the United States because they married an American man traveling their part of the country.) Even if we just focused on ethnic Koreans, tons of Korean Americans are doctors and lawyers and engineers, and tons of Korean Americans are manual laborers and sex workers and subsistence-level small business owners.

Here, we are presented with the core of problem, a more granular look at the issue that is clumsily labeled with the cliché that Asian America is not a monolith. It would be enough to say that America is not a monolith. It would be enough to say that Asian Americans are divided in the same way Americans are divided, with bourgeois and professional-managerial class (PMC) on one hand and the labor class on the other. What distinguishes the division of Asian America is not the major fault lines, but the many factors that add to the severity of the division—the fact that Asian Americans come from different countries, different languages, different histories.

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Im Myeong-muk wrote: “I worry that the people of the upper globalization will not understand those in the lower globalization.” As applied to Asian America, I have the same worry.

I empathize with the fact that Asian Americans are grieving, and airing out the litany of abuses we have taken—historical injustice, denial of career advancement, random racist slurs from the street—is a part of that mourning process. But as days go past, I worry that those mourning words, the intellectual expression of an outburst of grief, would solidify into a plan of action—and that plan, for all of its good intentions, will not be good enough. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if, as a result of this shooting, more people watched the PBS documentary on Asian American history, read Joy Luck Club, put another Asian face into the next big superhero movie, or even learn to pronounce the names of their Asian American colleagues correctly. But they are not enough.

Seeing Asian America as two globalizations clarifies the fact that all this historicizing and intellectualizing are much more relevant to the members of the upper globalization: the Asian Americans who speak English, who work in a white-collar job, who can get their words printed on the New York Times and the Washington Post. (Obviously that includes me.) Too often, our historicizing and intellectualizing are articulated through the trite cliches of white liberalism, about how it is all about white supremacy, US imperialism, or misogyny. That may be, but that’s not nearly all of it. Failure to recognize this truth leads to a kind of trickle-down social justice theory—that if we made one more Asia-themed Marvel movie, spent one more hour of high school history class talking about Vincent Chin, or promote one more Asian American investment banker to being a managing director, that will stop the bullets directed at Asian American masseuses.

If there truly is to be solidarity among Asian Americans, more is required. The privileged members of the upper globalization must set their sights beyond their own racialized pain arising from slurs, microaggression, or delay in career advancement, and stare into the racialized pain that we are much less likely to experience. In our suburban homes and our drives to the office, we are much less likely to spend an extended amount of time in a racialized space (like Asian-owned massage shop), be exposed to police brutality (as was the case with Yang Song in New York), be under constant threat of deportation through this country’s appallingly inhumane immigration system, or just be poor and broke.

We must also recognize that pan-Asian solidarity is much easier to imagine when it only involves people like us, the members of the upper globalization. My mother is 69 years old, around the same age as three of the slain Korean women. You might think my mother would have an easy time empathizing with the spa workers, because they are all first-generation immigrants from the same country, speaking the same language, belonging to the same age group, even belonging to the same socioeconomic class within the United States. But no.

My mother, like many other low-income first-generation immigrants, is not of the labor class; rather, she is a temporarily embarrassed PMC. She, and the vast swath of the Korean American community who think like her, will not find solidarity with whom they see as lower-class women who touch people for living. Young Asian Americans, look back to your parents and grandparents: how many of them were educated elites back in the home country, only to be relegated to low-income status in the US? Did they find solidarity with the poor people around them, or did they drive themselves and their children to be educated and get a white-collar job, and get out of that status as soon as possible? The vanilla expression that Korean Americans are dedicated to education covers up a sinister streak in our drive for success—that our parents did not want us to be like those people. My mother accomplished the incredible feat of becoming a white-collar professional in an entirely different country, language and system in her late middle age, because her entire life story is about elevating herself above being a housewife or a cashier.

This is but one schism that exists within the Korean American community. Imagine this type of schism existing in dozens of different AAPI communities of all different national origins. Imagine the size of the gulf that exists between a third-generation medical doctor who is Indian American, and an illegal immigrant food delivery worker who arrived from Cambodia five years ago. Imagine the lives of Asian Americans whose news and media consumption is entirely outside of English, such that even as they live physically in the United States, their worldview and political orientation are still tracking along the patterns set in their home country in their first language, and their opinion about the United States and their current conditions are refracted through that lens. Imagine how irrelevant they would find the talking points in the upper globalization world, delivered through the jargons of white liberalism that make sense only to people in a specific social group. Why would we want to “defund the police”, they might wonder. “Don’t we need the police to prevent the assaults that are happening to us?” How will we bridge all these gaps?

This is not a counsel of despair; rather, it is a call to be clear-eyed about the complex challenge that lies ahead of Asian Americans as we try to sublimate the deaths of eight in Atlanta. It is a call to those Asian Americans who are fortunate enough to have the time, energy, money and social capital to respond to this tragedy to look beyond ourselves and our own peculiar brand of pain. Stop making this about us, so that when this moment is in the past, we are not just left with more diversity training in the office and more cops in the streets who will only contribute to the bloated carceral state. It is fine to mourn, but when we are finished with the mourning and begin to act, I hope that our actions will be more about the concrete measures that improve the lives of Asian Americans who are the most exposed, like immigration reform, gun control, healthcare for the needy and protection from workplace abuse. It would be nice if the Karen in our office got our name right, but that’s not going to stop bullets.

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  1. Where I keep running into conflict is with a predominant vein of recent commentary....

    While we are opposing white supremacy and racism, the modes and language of white supremacy are still deeply ingrained in the formulas promoted and applied by East Asian cultural nationalisms and often exported through the diaspora. I am not trying to engage in whattaboutism. But I hope we will all try to recognize that the problem is structural in how we perceive race and ethnicity, oneness and other.

    I don’t think it is revelatory that the construction of racial identities and ethnic nationalisms in East Asia come directly from the West as both the Japanese and Chinese nationalists embraced the racialist premise of the German Volkisch movement. These ideas entered Korea through Japanese colonization and replaced more archaic identities that were often more flexible or negotiable, including Nikans and Jurchens. Japanese, Han and Koreans were representing or viewed themselves as leading the “yellow race”, which they had conflated into something on-par with “white” and it was steeped in the biological determinism that excused casual racism against dark skinned people. Narratives of authenticity were and are deployed in defense against colonialism, imperialism and regional hegemony. Fear.

    So, when I consider the artificial criteria deployed for inclusion or exclusion based on tropes of race or genetics, it feels like a double edged sword with potentially unintended consequences and even, in part, the risk of validating a poisonous ideology. While on one hand, it repudiates the Orientalist white man who fetishizes and appropriates Asian culture and demands to control it/absorb it based on some arbitrary culturalist metric, but on the other it provides a pretext to excluding a much broader variety of very real, localized identities and masks or delegitimizes the hybridity found in Asian cultures. So I keep looking back at Sheila L. Croucher’s use of the term ’narratives of unfolding’ from The Politics of identity In a Changing World in which she asserts “ethnic identity formation and differentiation emerge from a complex process of interaction, reaction, self-identification and institutional categorization….” This formula might be more flexible and inclusive while respecting formed identities both inside and outside Korea or better address the bifurcated dialectic of cultural authenticity between the archaic notions of blood kinship and the lived experience both in Korea and abroad.

    White is blank with nothing imprinted upon it. Non-white always comes with its imprint. But this is predominantly a western centered phenomenon. When the roles are reversed in Asia, biracial and non-cultural Koreans and their liminal identities are called into question or rejected as inauthentic. Several commenters have expounded on the criteria for belonging and many of these formulations make the mistake of asserting the same essentialist or primordialist language that white America in engaged in.

    It is almost reminiscent of some feminist theory from the 1990s in which the "patriarchy" was to be destroyed and replaced by an identical twin "matriarchy", while failing to address how the injustice and imbalance of the former is replicated by the latter. This can be true for all number of liminal people both in Korea or Asians in America... straight, queer, biracial, Buddhist, Christian, Daoist trans-generational and many more.


    No. 1: You are not half anything. Half implies lack. Identities are multiple and negotiable. You can be two wholes at the same time.

    No. 2: You can be Korean. Maybe you are just not the kind of Korean they are expecting.

  2. This dual globalism you describe was very apparent in Korea recently when some local governments imposed mandatory covid testing on all foreigners in their jurisdictions. A lot of foreigners raised complaints about the discriminatory nature of this mandate, myself included actually. A number of chambers of commerce and embassies also condemned these madates.

    It struck me though that all the people and organizations doing the complaining were Western. By far the larger community affected by the mandate were migrant workers from developing countries but they were not the ones raising a stink about this. In fact the few quotes in the news I did read from migrant factory workers were actually positive about the required testing because they perceived it would help alleviate local Koreans fears that the foreigners in their neighborhood were potentially infected.

    I too think this was a hasty and discriminatory mandate and Im glad it was recognized as such and corrected. But it certainly made it obvious that Western foreigners are the only ones privileged enough to even have this as a concern, and be listened to when raising it as an issue.

    You are exactly right that we need to turn our focus to the segment of minorities that actually bears the brunt of discrimination.

    1. Funny - I was reading the "Two Globalization" article exactly because of the whole COVID testing issue. Glad you felt the same way as I did.

  3. What a hilariously stupid comment ; white is not ''blank with nothing imprinted upon it'', East-Asians had a concept of race far before they were influenced by Volkisch movement (this is the sort of retarded conclusions you come to when you only read leftoids authors) ; you cannot ''negotiate'' your racial identity ; criterias for including or excluding people based on genetics are all but arbitrary...

    Anyways the hysteria around alleged anti-asian hate is entirely fabricated and doesn't correspond with empirical reality ; in both raw number and percentage asians are the least victims of basically any sort of crime and when they are victim of something it tends to be disproportionally caused by non-whites. Something also needs to be said about the immense sense of entitlement and arrogance that some of you people have when you think voting a law to exclude you prior to you being here is somehow a violation of your human rights ; as if you had a right to enter and pillage your neighbor's house ; although such reasoning shouldn't surprise us since the only thing the lived experiences of non-whites teaches them is that gaming the system to your advantage is easy to do and the system will even help you do it.

    1. Nice reply buddy ; any arguments?


  4. Great post. Thank you. Your mom made you strong.

    DTP does keep our communities safer, BTW. Each officer costs a city around $300K/year. That's just their salaries/pension/healthcare. As they move up in ranks police earn $500-$800K. Imagine that $ invested into education, housing & public support - things that actually reduce crime and violence. Police are not trained to deal with many of the situations they deal with. Social workers cost our cities much less and are trained to deal with people who are struggling.

    I know this is not what your article was about. But I am concerned when people lean on racist police who do more harm than good.

    1. More funds in education, housing and public supoort would not help reduce crime and violence.

  5. Anonymous Racist,

    Being white in the United States means having the luxury of shouting, “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” whenever convenient because being white is seen as natural...the status quo. Being non-white means not having the luxury to hide your “otherness” under the common interrogative “What are you?”... which implies that whatever it is, it isn’t natural.

    I am astounded by the anonymous comment above, but not surprised.

    1. Wrote a long comment ; don't know if it's too long to be posted or if it's being deleted. I'll segment it into multiple replies.

      Being white is seen as the natural because whites are the founding racial group of the United States ; at no point before the year 2000 did whites make up less than 80% of the country, and from 1920 to 1950 whites basically made up 90% of the entire country's population. It's perfectly normal and perhaps even healthy that the dominant (in demographic terms) racial group of a given country is seen as more natural than some other racial group which has been part of the country for less time and which has has had, as a result, a lesser impact on the overall historical trajectory of the country. The term 'natural' can be normatively loaded, as in, if X is natural, X is good, and if X unnatural, X is bad - but this isn't necessary, 'natural' can also simply refer to a constant, durable-over-time statistical average that is not likely to change, as in, ''it's natural that men have a higher (successful) suicide rate than women''. If what you're asking is that whites should not be seen as the natural, in the statistical average sense, that what you're asking for is illogical, and if what you're claiming is that whites are seen as the natural in the normative sense, and that this is immoral, I'd say that you're delusional, because whites are certainly not seen in a positive light by the majority of mainstream medias and politically/culturally relevant academic institutions ; and I would even further add that, even if it was the case that whites were seen as the natural in the normative sense, this wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, to an extent.

    2. At any rate, the whole way these questions are framed is profoundly dishonest. Dominant racial groups being seen as the natural is not some specific western peculiarity born out of centuries of colonialism and imperialism or whatever your favorite historical narrative is, it's a rather universal thing. Ethnic Japanese are the natural in Japan, ethnic Han Chinese are the natural in China, and you can ask the author - if he's even mildly honest he'll agree -, Ethnic Koreans are seen as the natural in South Korea also. The only thing exceptional about whites in this regard is that only them have to suffer these attempts, by people of other races, but also by leftist whites, to delegitimize their claims of having more legitimate discretionary authority over western languages, cultures, traditions and institutions than non-whites. If a white man develops some kind of interest for a traditional Korean cultural practice, and decides to carve out a place for himself in the sphere related to that activity, it's understood by all that he's tacitly allowed to do this because Koreans, who have a monopoly over their own cultural practices, allow him to do so, and that if they suddenly decided that it is actually not ok for him to do what he's doing anymore, him continuing would amount to cultural appropriation. In a sense, he's borrowing something under their consent. In modern day western countries, this relationship akin to the one between guest and host is totally reversed ; we are told non-whites should be the legitimate owners of the western canon, for instance, and that the only moral course of action is that they should be allowed to subvert it for their own gains, to make up for their alleged oppressions, and that good whites are those who aggressively prevent the others from interfering in what ultimately amounts to the robbery of their intellectual and cultural possessions. Claims of being seen as 'perpetual outsiders' from asian americans are especially disingenuous because more than half of asian-americans are foreign born ; how can you possibly expect to be seen as natural as those who have ancestors dating back 100, 200 years in the past?

      Yes, friend, you don't have the luxury of pretending to be anything else than what you are, and neither do I; as I've implied earlier, racial identities are not negotiable or malleable, they are fixed, rigid, frozen things. Whites don't get to pretend to be seen as natural in South Korea either (and no, that random ads in the Subway or whatever have white people in them and that South Korean tv shows randomly invite Hollywood celebrities doesn't mean that whites are seen as natural in South Korean society, these things are just a consequence of America's incredible cultural soft power).

      At any rate, another asian elderly woman was attacked by a black man. So much for white supremacy. Cheers.

    3. Being white and male in the United States means not really understanding the meaning of "power".

    4. You white supremacist chuds always sing the same song. It's a white country, it's a white country. Sorry buttercup, this has never been a "white" country.

      Population of the United States in 1850: 23,191,876
      White population as a percentage of the total: 84.3%
      Black population as a percentage of the total: 15.7%2
      Number of free Blacks in America in 1850: 434,495
      Number of slaves: 3,204,313
      Male population as a percentage of the total in 1850: 51.02%
      Male population as a percentage of the white total: 51.28%
      Male population as a percentage of the Black total: 49.78%
      Year in which races other than Black and white were first listed in the U.S. census: 1860
      Birth Rate

      Average number of children born in antebellum America: 6-7
      Average number of children born in America today: about 2
      Decline in American birthrate from 1800 to 1850: 23%3

      Number of German Jews who immigrated to America during the 19th century: 250,000 (additionally, several hundred thousand Germans, most of them Protestant, arrived in the 1850s after the failed revolutions of 1830 and 1848)9
      Number of Chinese in America by 1860: 35,000 (most of them in the West and thousands of them at work building the rapidly spreading railroad network)10
      Number of Irish immigrants who came to America annually from 1847–1855: Over 100,000
      Number of Irish immigrants who came in 1851: 221,000 Irish population as a percentage of the total foreign-born population in 1853: 43%

      Rank of Catholicism among denominations in the United States in 1860: 1st

      I didn't feel like doing a lot of looking just to refute another neo-natzi 8chan basement dweller. Jeez. You people are everywhere.

    5. America has been above 80% white for its entire history up until recently, so yea, it has, matter of factly, always been white, and was around 90% white from 1910 all the way to the 1960s. I don't know why you're posting shit like ''Average number of children born in antebellum America'' as if this mattered when we have direct data on historical racial demographics in the United States, you can check those for yourself,before%20the%20late%20twentieth%20century.

      In all likelyhood you're probably too stupid to do any significant research so you come up with excuses like being too tired to do proper research. Also I don't know why you're listing Irish immigrants? You're probably one of those absolute r*tards who believe the Irish were not considered white, a myth dear to midwit leftoids but which has no basis in historical reality.

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  7. My two cents from a Singaporean: You mentioned that the shooter was a "weirdo Evangelical who was convinced that he was striking out against his self-diagnosed sex addiction". Let me translate that for you: he was a borderline Nazi masquerading as a conservative Christian. "The idea that people can be addicted to sex implies that people’s sex drives and erotic interests can be grouped into “normal” and “not normal,”,..., which could leave those with alternative sexual identities vulnerable to discrimination." This was written in a Time Magazine article on the subject. "Sex addiction" is almost never truly about sex. It's about power, control, and conformity to a very narrowly-defined "normal" that restricts living, breathing people into acting out highly stereotyped, highly restrictive and highly oppressive roles. These people will strike out at anyone who deviates from their "normal". With that, I'd say it'd be accurate to consider this yet another fault line between "conservatives" and "liberals". The "conservatives" want a society where everyone is "in their place" playing strictly-defined roles, with no room for deviation, let alone role swaps, whereas the "liberals" want to see everyone free to be true to themselves. Knowing this, of course the shooter would target Asian sex workers! They're about as far from these people's sense of "normal" as you can get. As a Singaporean, I see this dynamic playing out with issues like racial and religious, as well as gender and sexuality-based discrimination quite often (see the media storm that comes up whenever LGBT issues come to the forefront because of one incident or another, or tudung bans for public service personnel for examples.). This kind of hate is symptomatic of larger issues in society, the specifics of which, as a Singaporean, and not a particularly articulate one at that, I'm not qualified to talk about.

  8. Almost not a day goes by that I don't wish that I had a Korean mom or when I don't give thanks for my "sisters" that I met in the ROK. Sometimes I drink bone-broth and I feel them in my heart... It's too bad that "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" gained such cultural cachet while Korean mothering has flown under the radar, though perhaps it's better that way. Nurturing young people is not all about psychotic ambition.

    I continue to love your website, AAK. This free information is worth a lot more than some commercial writings on Korea and Korean culture and is less polemical than even some academicians who want to flaunt their erudition. You may recall I wrote you some years ago about the hagwon industry and you gave fantastic replies.

    Your article also reminds me of my Korean-American friend whose mother worked in a sweatshop in LA while her husband was in dental school. Later on their three children became a golf-playing wine-savoring dentist, a Stanford corporate IP lawyer, and a UCLA medical doctor.

    Take care

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