• Soo Yon Ryu

Dealing with Racism.

from a letter I wrote:

Dear Kjersti. I wanted to explain to you why many people were offended by what you did and how you reacted.

Firstly, assuming that an 'asian-looking' person is a non-native English speaker has racist connotation. It is not because 'in Korea, they think when you compliment a person in speaking good english when they are a kid, that makes you a racist' (words directly quoted from your commen). It saddens me you still attribute the cause to the offended people and not your careless language. As you know, US is composed of people of different backgrounds and ethnicities. Indeed, Claudia lived in the US for 6 years as a child. (The fact that you didn't know this shows you didn't bother with any research, as this information is literally in the 'second paragraph' of Claudia Kim's wikipedia page). Even if such was not the case, making such assumptions is rude. After all, she was interviewing in english, in US, as an actress in an english-speaking movie. Assuming someone's background based on their features is unprofessional, and yes, racist.

Secondly, although you did apologize, the way you did it further offended people. In your instagram apology post, you managed to label the act of speaking out as 'fueling (...) more hatred'. That was some framing you did. People spoke for themselves because they were offended by your words, not because they were eager to spread hatred. You even managed to show yourself as the victim, addressing the e-mails you've received. Before any self-pity, I wish you would have thought about why such anger was caused in the first place. (By the way, the choice of photo for that post? Seriously?)

I understand that you may have not meant to be racist or offend anyone, but the truth is, people were offended. When that happens, you should dig deeper into the cause and try to understand what you did wrong. Blocking people and enabling comments are mere avoidance. 

I took a considerable amount of time out of my time to write this to you for a reason. You are a reporter and you earn a living by talking. Understanding the power of language and using it right defines your career. Your mistake with Claudia left a mark in your career as a careless reporter and created a handful of offended audience. Ignoring the offended voices and selectively choosing to listen to the biased ones may be the easier choice, but potentially a dangerous one. I hope you can acknowledge that this situation stems from your own mistake and carelessness, not from a sensitive asian culture or over reactive people.

Racism is something we should all fight against and such act aligns with the 'love' you wish to spread. Purposeful racism is pure evil, no question. But unpurposeful racism too should be cautioned against consciously.

내게 평등이라는 가치는 굉장히 중요하다.

이방인으로 여겨지며 자라왔기 때문에 더 그럴지도 모른다.


너네 나라 개먹지?

인종차별 이슈가 점점 대두되는 것은 바람직한 혐상이지만, 국제 사회는 동양인에 대한 차별에는 비교적 무디다는 생각을 버리기가 힘들다.

특히 미국은 역사 때문일까, 흑인이나 히스패닉 문제를 다루는 무게로 동양인 문제를 고려하지 않는다고 생각했다.

작년 이맘때, 현실적인 여성의 몸을 본따 만든 인형을 보게되었다. 그 컨셉에 동감했고, 기쁜 마음으로 구매를 하려 웹사이트에 접속했다. 그러나 그곳에는 백인 인형과 흑인 인형만이 있었다.

안타까운 맘을 담아 이메일로 동양인 인형을 추가해달라는 요청과 그 이유를 보냈다.

This collection implies a priority of equality.... (동양인 인형 추가시) such change will ultimately bring about a healthy discussion in all forms of equality.

며칠후 담당자의 회신을 받았지만, 모델을 추가하려면 가격이 비싸기에 추가할 예정이 없다는 내용이었다. 회사의 입장은 이해가 갔지만, 초기 기획에 인종 묘사의 '정치적 올바름'에 대한 우선순위가 동양인이 아니라는 것쯤은 유추할 수 있었다.

1년이 지난 오늘, 다시 웹사이트에 접속했다. 동양인 인형은 여전히 없었지만 여러 의상과 보관가방 등, 다른 상품들은 업데이트되어 있었다. 안쉬운 맘을 넘어 위선적이라는 생각이 들며 김이 샜다.

동양인은 국제사회에서 어디에 있는걸까? 목소리가 있는 이들이 더 크게 이야기해주었으면 좋겠다. 나도 어서 목소리를 키우고 싶다. 우리의 이야기가 더 잘들리게, 더 들어야하게.

Discrimination against Asians go undiscussed. Blatant ridicule is rarely criticized, hate is unaddressed, and in that gap of reality and ideal, fantasy intervenes.

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