Thursday, September 16, 2021

Man identified in wrong manner

In the Wednesday issue of The State News, a police brief stated a robbery suspect was a masked man and described him as Asian Pacific.

This is an amazing and disturbing description of a criminal perpetrator that could have serious repercussions in a community with a small population of Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander students, staff and faculty.

I would like to know how a masked man could be described as Asian Pacific. Because masks usually allow the masked person to see, I’m assuming the eyes were what identified the person as Asian Pacific. However, if the variation among groups of people in terms of eye color and epicanthic folds in eyelids is to be considered, even if hair color was noted, how is such an identification possible? Was it by voice, accent, language or clothing?

As an Asian American individual, I have been misidentified as Chicano and as a Native Indigenous person on many occasions. This leads me to believe that Chicanos, Native Indigenous and other minority racial ethnic individuals have probably been similarly misidentified. To have a masked man identified as an Asian Pacific individual is emblematic of the lack of familiarity and need for education here in regard to Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Thomas M. Nishi
coordinator for Asian American and Pacific Islander
Student Affairs


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