Last week, a violent altercation between a group of motorcyclists and a family in an SUV made nationwide news.
Almost as interesting as the story reported in the mainstream media is what generally is not reported.
Many details are in dispute, but most agree with the following: a large group of motorcyclists were part of a rally on the roads of New York. One the bikers slowed down in front of the SUV, which bumped it. The group of motorcyclists surrounded the vehicle and the SUV driver, who felt that the bikers were threatening his family, attempted to drive away, hitting some of the motorcycles and seriously injuring and possibly paralyzing motorcyclist Edwin Mieses, Jr.
The other motorcyclists then chased the SUV until they were able to smash the car windows and pull the driver from the car and beat him, while his wife and two-year-old child were sheltered inside.
Very rarely mentioned in the stories in the mainstream media are the races of those involved. The SUV driver, Alexian Lien, and his family are Asian American. Most of motorcyclists who have been arrested in the beating, and the one who was injured when he was run over, appear to be black. An undercover officer also was charged appears to be white.
On one hand, perhaps it’s a good sign that the media feel that these are insignificant details. And in some ways, it’s true. Perhaps the simple question of who was right and who was wrong and who will be charged is more important.
However, given the history of race relations between Asian Americans and African Americans, it’s hard to say with certainty that race played no factor at all in the escalation of mistrust and violence in this incident.
A 2012 study on Asian Americans by Pew Research Group found that between 33 and 50 percent of U.S. Vietnamese, Chinese and Koreans believe that Asian Americans and African Americans do not get along well.
This leads to some uncomfortable questions:
Did stereotypes play a factor in the way the incident was portrayed in the media?
Would the outcome have been different had the parties all been of the same race?
How would you have reacted had you been one of the motorcyclists? Or if you were in the place of the driver and his family? Would you have reacted differently had the other party been of the same race as you?
And perhaps there is also this question that has taken much too long to answer: When are we finally going to respect each other as human beings, and not see violence and threats as an acceptable answer to any situation?
Perhaps reaching out to those we consider “others” is one way that we can reach this ideal.
Last but not least, be safe and respect all the people on the road. (end)