Today, my professor for my International News Media course hosted a panel, Sounds That Heal, featuring 4 journalists. It was Amazing with the capital A! I truly enjoy it even though I’m post-riot generation. Here’s a background story from my knowledge. 20 years ago, Rodney King was pulled over by cops for speeding. Then he was beaten for over one minute. Those cops were found not guilty in the courtroom. On April 29, 1992, after the community heard about the verdict, they threw in a fit and causing the LA Riots. Riots occurred in LA and lasted for a week and it was horrible! There were looting and burnings all over. It was really sad especially for three minorities, Korean, Mexicans, and African-Americans. So my professor brought 4 reporters who went and saw and report the Riots. And it was the time for everyone to learn about each others’ perspectives and definitely eye-openings for everyone in the room.
Before we went on with panel discussion, we watched a student-made film, Love Thy Neighbor. It talks about the relationship between a young black boy and a Korean store owner. It was really touching video and to see that kind of relationship form, it was really genuine. Of course, it took place during the riots and she was scarred for life. The boy and his father ended up taking care of the store. Short film but sweet.
Then we had a panel discussion among the four reporters. The first three are much more directed and are part of small radio stations while the fourth one was part of the newspapers.
Jin Ho Lee of Korea Radio, Karen Slade of KJLH, Ruben Tapia of Radio Bilingue, and KW Lee of Korea Times
First three discussed their experiences reporting. There were several calls to their radio stations on asking help because no cops or ambulance or any authority will come and help! Jin Ho Lee heard so many calls that the radio was set live feed and so many Korean store owners were crying in desperate because their stores were being looted or burned. Karen Slade had to stop playing music on their radio and just broadcasting calls from their community. Ruben Tapia was actually a woodmaker who just got in his minivan with his brother and his 11 years old daughter. He drove to Florence and Normandie and witnessed everything. Then he became an active reporter. To hear different communities and their stories, it was just huge to listen (or watch in my case, ha!). Lastly, we have KW Lee who was the only main Korean voice during the LA Riots. He mentioned how in his newsroom, there were only 4 blacks working there.
KW Lee deserves his own paragraph and it was phenomenal! He spokes not only about what was happening but what can happen and what can WE do. He made so many powerful points and definitely have hope in my generation. He said, “[we] are born from heroic people.” By that he meant how minorities migrate for the American dreams and they’re passing on to the generations for the American dreams. Then he said we had the advantage than 20 years ago. Back in the day, people are old-fashioned and definitely have thick line of segregation. But nowadays this generation have the experience of social interactions among the races and is one of the reasons he believes we can be smart. Mass media relies so much on violence, riots, and all that for their ratings. And majority of news back then were controlled by white people. We have to be smart and we “have weapons. Smartphones, laptops, and everything” to be active reporters. He spoke with so much power in his voice and it was just awesome! Definitely learned a lot and enjoyed so much! He mentioned how the top white people should live in Central LA for a month just so they know what’s it really like for the community living there. And he said how he grew up with blacks and they “look tough but inside they’re soft!” After two hours and half, it was the end and I got to meet up with him. Very nice guy but with so much wisdom and hope for my generation. I’m glad to hear something like this. It’s very aspiring especially for our generation!
If you ever had chance to see KW Lee or see an event featuring him, you should check it out. He is a man with big voice and hope for the future. 20 years later, it has changed for better in a way. We can work this together! Now I end with his quote, “[My generation] are a born poet!” :)
Anyone with twitter, you can check out some of the audience’s comments by looking at #RiotsLA
editted: KW Lee is 83-84 years old! Just thought I’ll add that.