A novel based on the incident that caused the 1992 Los Angeles riots was recently released by Golden Bough. In her novel “Your House Will Pay,” Korean-American novelist Steph Cha, 35, describes in detail the story of the families of the perpetrator and the victim of a racial crime. In a written interview with the Dong-A Ilbo, Cha said she wanted to deal with interracial conflicts between people of color since there are already a lot of books about racial hatred by whites.
The new book is a fictionalized story about an actual racial crime occurred 28 years ago that led to the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. Grace Park, Korean-American and the daughter of the perpetrator of a racial crime, and Shawn Matthews, African-American and the brother of the perpetrator, narrate in turn to describe about their families. The novel shows that experiences for the perpetrator and his family are different and the victim’s death does not end the family’s suffering.
For the author, who grew up in Los Angeles where there has been a long history of conflict between Korean-Americans and blacks, racial hatred could not be explained as a simple confrontation between whites and peoples of color. The author stresses that racial conflict and hatred are multifaceted and no race can be free from this problem. Cha said hate crimes among people of color take place in very private spaces, adding each race has different culture and prejudice and conflicts occur in various forms.
The author does not believe that racial conflicts in the U.S. will not be eased soon. Cha said former President Donald Trump stirred old racial hatred by creating a social atmosphere, where making racist remarks in public is acceptable. Such hatred may be discouraged with the change of the administration, but it will take much time and efforts, she added.
How can we prevent racially motivated hate crimes from happening? The author believes that the culture and history of many races should be taught consistently even if it takes time. “It is hard to watch innocent Asians being attacked on the streets,” Cha said. “We must continue to do what we can to understand the dynamics between races.”