Why the Adjective?

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.

5 Replies to “Why the Adjective?”

  1. I think in this case it is pertinent because almost every time this has happened in the past the shooter(s) has been a white male. The race of mass murderers has always been a source of study for criminologist and psychiatrists, and I can only imagine when something like this happens, where the pattern is broken, then race is a huge consideration. As far as the media goes, I don’t think they really think about it; even though the Columbine shooters were killed, they still referred to them as white males in every instance I read.

  2. I can see that — I think it was his instinct that said to divulge as much info as possible about the event that caused him to mention race. But it just still seems odd to me for the reasons listed above.

  3. I agree with your post. Also, what people fail to realize (assuming reporters have printed the correct information), he’s been in America since he was a child!

    Hmmm. Sounds less like a cultural/ethnicity issue and more like a national one that we as America need to tackle. Unfortunately, the majority of people find it easier to pass the buck.

  4. And whatever happened to things just being a HUMAN issue? The media tends to forget that. It’s easy for people to distance themselves from this aspect by breaking it down into smaller categories like gender, race, etc.

    Ugh! It’s so frustrating.

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