Speak Now

Over the years, KoreAm has documented the impact of the 1992 Los Angeles riots on ours and other communities, and urged an understanding of lessons learned. As we count down to the 20th anniversary next year, charactermedia.com will be running a riot article, image or testimonial in this space every week until April 29, 2012. Some will be taken from our pages, while others will be excavated from our own personal archives. We welcome your submissions—first-person memories (no word limit), pictures, poems and (photographed/scanned) artifacts—for this project, too. Please email them to riots@charactermedia.com. Many of us were mere children in 1992, but 19 years later, we have voices. We can speak now.

The following piece was first published in the March 2006 issue of KoreAm Journal.

In my second year of med school, one of my clinical instructors was a gentle African American man, an internist on the cusp of retirement. On the evening the riots started, my classmate and I emerged from St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach and saw dark clouds of smoke amassing over Los Angeles. Our mentor understood the significance of the approaching turmoil better than we did, and in a protective spirit he walked these two Asian American kids to the parking garage. Nothing happened to us on the way, and there were no hints of immediate danger. It was only a few hours later, when I watched the televised situation getting positively messy, that I comprehended his insistence on being our chaperon.

-Sean Sehoon Jung
March 25, 2006