The 8Asians Writers Talk About: Asian Shooters

03shooting2-600Our internal e-mail lists have us discussing all kinds of stuff: Asian American identity, representation in the media, the experiences of activism in an academia setting and its progression as we transition to the working, adult world. And sometimes, we talk about about psycho Asians gunning people down.

Jeff: Shooting at a Korean religious retreat in southern california. Yet another Asian-american shooter – what’s happening?

John: What do you mean? Of course, there is the Virginia Tech guy, but who else?

Jeff: There was the guy in Santa Clara who shot his family, relatives, and himself just this week. The guy who last year killed a company president, HR VP, and another VP after he got fired just went on trial. A few years ago there was another guy who killed 6 hunters and shot 2 others.

Tim: There’s a good article in the Mercury news about why people snap. I considered taking the Merc article and writing something about Asians going psycho, but I just haven’t had the time.

Moye: To answer Jeff’s question, I don’t think anything is really happening in terms of Asian males going psycho and gunning people down. Is it bad to think that these things are pretty common and we just notice them more if they happen to affect the Asian American community?

Ernie: I want to say that [is the case]. But I do think “public face” has a lot to do with it; the pressure to conform and match status quo with all the other Asians out there, as well as the stigma of mental illness and therapy and “talking it out.” I would be a prime candidate for “talking it out” with all the stuff I’ve gone through and even I can’t bear to go, while people half my problems go to bi-weekly sessions; that’s definitely a cultural thing for me.

Efren: Well, there are a lot of things that are going on, especially concerning Asian Ams and mental illness; and how we’re extremely unlikely to seek mental health care b/c it’s either inappropriate culturally and there is such a huge stigma against saying one has mental health issues in Asian communities. Many Asians actually end up having physical symptoms that start from mental health issues, and that’s often the only signal for them to go in and seek care for both the mental and physical health issues.

I think for men it’s compounded even more since they’re supposed to be stoic and emotional in order to prove their masculinity, while it may be slightly easier for women (though Iris Chang unfortunately proved that isn’t the case at all). …

Moye: I definitely agree when you put it that way: I always wonder why my non-Asian friends love going to therapy so much and I can’t even imagine bringing the option up to my parents (for me…but honestly, I don’t think I need it). There are definitely socio-economic factors that are putting a lot of stress on people right now, and this is sadly the only option that some Asian males are finding. Though I don’t believe this is going to be a turning point in the perception of Asian males and that they are all dangerous with violent/suicidal tendencies.

Efren: … I found it telling that people talked about how he was made fun of by other Vietnamese by not being “Vietnamese enough” since he wasn’t able to understand everything that other Vietnamese said. I also know that Chinese Vietnamese tend to either play down the fact that they’re Vietnamese or play up that they’re Chinese, at least in the Bay Area, since they seem to get shit if they claim to be both. I also found it curious that they brought up things in his particular story that weren’t brought up in the other Asian male shooters, like his attempted bank robbery, addiction to crack cocaine, etc.

Bo: … Many of the people who have come forward have mentioned the obvious “warning signs” present. One has to wonder, if there was a broader social safety net and less of a perception that Asian-Americans don’t want, need, or require intervention, could someone have gotten him the help he needed. If the letter that has been attributed to him is authentic, the guy was seriously mentally ill. Possibly border line schizophrenic. We know that the VT-Tech shooter had been battling depression and had been in therapy in the past but hadn’t gotten any help for some time prior to his rampage.

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