...then we all jump in!"
Well, figuratively, of course.
The court of popular opinion will pass judgement swiftly in this case. Well, even from the title, it's a case of expectations met: "Black Man Attacks a Korean Grandfather." Well, there we saw it -- an angry black man, yelling and scaring the shit out of everybody. Surely he just got up and started attacking people for no apparent reason, because that's what scary black men do, right?
Left out of the conversation -- and a question that every Korean would ask were the court of popular opinion turned against them -- is any consideration of what the context was. Not that there's an excuse for hitting another person without cause, but the funny thing about this video is that we're right in the middle of an altercation that obviously was started for a reason, OFF-camera, but no one on the Korean side seems to care what it was, and the video's title hints at what the real issue is: a scary black man attacks defenseless old Korean man. Case closed -- we know what we expect, we know how they do, we got the case that we want. It's a "BLACK MAN," after all.
Never has there been a discussion -- in general -- of the fact that black folks like myself get harassed DAILY on subways and buses and trains, but THAT never becomes an issue, no Korean thinks to flip on their cellphone to start making YouTube videos. I don't condone this young man's type of behavior, BUT I UNDERSTAND IT.
I've been tempted a million times to react just like this, to smack the shit out of some asshole who just called me a name, a "nigger," or told me to get out of "his" country. Who sneered at my girfriend, scolded her for dating me in front of me, or as were the cases for friends of mine who've had it worse, had their girlfriend/wife cursed at or even assaulted by just some drunk ajussi or grandpa.
So I'll reserve the instant judgement of this "black man" as some kind of animal or seething brute. But what saddens me is how quick the Korean viewers and commenters are to so judge and check off the box on their checklist of stereotypes -- YEP! "Dangerous, scary nigger" finally attacked somebody. "I KNEW IT!"
Again, hints of the bias in the title. Why is it so important that he's black? Because of the fears that his behaviors play into, that the video plays right into.
As for the brother in the video? I can feel his frustration, and actually, I do a huge facepalm as I watch his behavior, since I know it's JUST what they're always thinking about us, he's just the appearance they fear the most, with his youth, urban style, and scary dreds, and he's acting just the way they think we all act.
And I understand the need to sometimes be THAT nigger. Just because you're sick and tired of being sick and tired. I TOTALLY WANT TO GO OFF JUST LIKE THAT BROTHER DID, EVERY TIME SOME AJUSSI STARTS SOME SHIT.
But I don't. Mostly because I know the police are gonna screw me, the crowd will turn on me, and no one turns on their cellphones if a million ajussis a day harass a nigger; but let a nigga lose it one time and it turn into a fucking national circus, just like this, with the title: "Black Man Does X..."
The actions are what they are -- I don't know yet what happened, but from my own personal experience and lack of the pre-existing assumption that black men are just time bombs of gangsterism and violence waiting to explode at any moment, I assume that something happened to provoke him.
Not that the Korean public gives a shit, though.
Like with the "crazy GI in Shinchon" who apparently just up and started stabbing people for no apparent reason. The Korean public was pretty quick to condemn him, based upon a horrible picture and stereotypes -- the facts of the matter and the backstory (all of which were agreed upon as having happened by both parties in court) that it was 2 American GI's and a Korean KATUSA attacked by 5 drunk Korean men, one of whom was on top of one of the GI's and choking him when his friend pulled out a knife from his backpack and stabbed the attacker -- these were all left out.
But the Korean public is so quick to believe the unlikely story that American GI's just go wild and start attacking passersby for no apparent reason. Which is the same reason no one is asking the obvious question here, like, umm, perhaps WHY was the young man in the video so angry with the other guy in the first place?
*I* wonder. And as a black man in Korea who ain't even that black, skintone wise, and considering all the SHIT *I* get, I really, really doubt the man just got up for no reason and started going buck wild.
But that's what Koreans think black people do, and they got what they expect. No matter that this video isn't indicative of a pattern, whereas a Korean man harrassing a foreigner, especially a black one, is MUCH, MUCH more reflective of reality than the video in question.
That's why, my young brother, you don't have the room to be acting out. Because, from the Koreans immediately around you to the Koreans populating the court of popular opinion -- you are THAT NIGGER to them, and you can't afford to slip. Not even once.
You gotta follow the rules, my brother.
Because life as a black man in Korea affords you about the same amount of sympathy, both in person and in the media, as one might have gotten in the Deep South in the 1950's. Doesn't matter that violence, both mental and physical, is done upon you day in and day out -- you step out of line one time, and that's your ass.
UPDATE 1: This blog post was mentioned in a KBS news broadcast, apparently, and a bit more information has come out, namely who the guy is and what apparently went down. Although I don't trust either the witnesses or the news to report the facts as they were (I've been involved, as I've described on this blog before, with the accounts of Korean witnesses who straight-up, bald-faced lie in order to side with the Korean on several occasions), the consensus seems to be from all sides that there was no "니가" issue involved, which I suspected was bullshit from jump. The guy apparently spoke some Korean, and it sounds like some stupid joke I've heard a thousand times. And it was apocryphal, before there had been a news report of any kind -- a fact that coalesced from hearsay that came from someone's half-joking supposition. Smelled that one a mile away.
And the second guess I had was that the ajussi had yelled at the young man, which even the Korean witnesses reported as true. As has been true for myself as well, having been yelled at for taking a phone call in English many a time, this apparently was the start of it all, and the young man apparently bristled at being told to "Shut up!" which I highly doubt was a message delivered in the tenderest of tones in the spirit of a benevolent, Chosun-era, Confucian elder. That's what the bullshit discourse was trying to mold it into -- "the man politely told him to come sit next to him and the black man went apeshit when he heard/misunderstood the word '니가.'" That set the bullshit-o-meter to 10, and the basic facts of the case apaprently squash that simplisitic theory.
UPDATE 2: Apparently, my site is banned by the Ministry of Education? One reader gets this on his computer: "접근이 제한된 유해 사이트입니다. 서울특별시강서교육지원청." Niiiiice. It's certainly not because of malware, as Typepad's engineers keep it clean, unlike a couple of my Wordpress installs that got database-level dirty, as happened with Hub of Sparkle. So, I guess my content's too hot to handle? I'll take that as a compliment!
UPDATE 3: I'm going to be commenting on this issue at 8 in the morning on TBSeFM. Listen if you'd like to hear me wax theoretical about this whole brouhaha.