Why the Adjective? April 17, 2007 – Posted in: Aberrant Normalcy

By now you all have heard of the terrible tragedy at UVA yesterday. Upon reading the news this morning, I found this interesting quote:

“We do know that he was an Asian male — this is the second event — an Asian male who was a resident in one of our dormitories. He was one of our students,” university president Charles Steger said Tuesday, confirming for the first time that the killer was a student.

What struck me was that Mr. Steger felt the need to use “Asian” when describing the student. Generally, race is used to describe a perpetrator when putting out an APB so he can more easily be identified. But this perp is already dead. What use does naming race have to people now except stirring up stereotypes about culture? Why does saying “Asian male” have more weight than simply saying, “a male?” Everyone is scrambling to figure out why this happened, so I presume this might just have been divulged to satisfy people’s need for information, but it reveals a certain presumption that race still matters to people.