Sa-i-gu, or April 29, is an important and catastrophic day for the Korean community in much the same way as September 11 is for America as a whole. This is the day that their sense of security was shattered, their dream rudely dispelled, and a new reality really hit home.
Even though I read in "Strangers From A Different Shore" that "the human toll was high: 58 deaths, 2,400 injuries, and 12,000 arrests" (Takaki 494), the full impact of the tragedy didn't hit me until I saw how hurt the mother of Edward Song was. I can't get her words out of my head: "I"m still waiting for my son." The numbers didn't make much sense until I realize there are 58 mothers out there mourning and that thousands and thousands of families are affected deeply by this unfortunate event.
Unfortunate, but not accidental! Sa-i-gu happened for a host of reasons. It has to do with the social ladder in which African Americans occupy the bottom rung and Asian Americans perceived as the middlemen. It has to do with the gap between the rich and poor. It has to do with cultural differences and misunderstandings. It has to do with injustice. .
"Black people don't get no justice, nowhere, no time" (Takaki 495). The sentiment expressed by a young black man is a common sentiment felt by the African American community. Ironically, they dealt a great deal of injustice to the Korean American community while seeking justice for Latasha Harlins and Rodney King. Latasha Harlings, a fifteen-year-old black girl, was shot and killed by Korean shopkeeper Soon Ja Du after a scuffle over a bottle of juice (Takaki 494). .
Such incidents are bound to happen when cultural ignorance exists. Mainstream stereotypes depict blacks as criminals. Believing thus led the Korean storekeepers to treat black people not as their valued customers but as someone to watch out for. Popular media also depict Koreans as rude and unfriendly people (as shown by a movie in class).