James Kim

Mat got me thinking about why I care. I don't know James Kim. I guess it is possible I could have known him at some point.

The outcome is a small obscenity. His wife should still have her husband; his daughters should still have their father; his co-workers should still be laboring beside their colleague.

I don't think "it could have me," not literally. I've never driven through that corner of Oregon. I am thinking about ways that the Arizona/New Mexico drive A. and I took a couple of years ago could have gone differently.

I feel proud of him for trying to save his family. That's the measure of a (hu)man, not some knuckle-dragging masculinist caricature but the do-anything-I-mean-ANYTHING attitude of looking out for and watching over one's loved ones.

And I liked seeing the media flooding the zone over a missing person of color. It made me feel stubbornly better. It feels a little bit like one of those victories that still fucking sucks. The flood of warmth you feel right before you realize you've gone and pissed all over yourself. That's seeing race where, say, in this instance, rescue personnel and sheriff's deputies and the great, great majority of people hearing about the family don't give a shit.

They just wanted James Kim home.

6 Replies to “James Kim”

  1. I totally agree with you on most things, the Kim saga was tragic and also a true testomate to what a person should do when in situations like that to protect the things that he/she cares about more than themselves, but I totally don’t see where race comes into the picture.  Sorry.

  2. I have gotten used to seeing the media put a great deal of energy into
    coverage of people who are missing or in harm’s way — victims, I guess
    — when they are young, female, middle-class, blond and/or white. I am
    far less used to seeing that kind of energy when it comes to coverage
    of victims more likely to be older, male, dark-haired and/or nonwhite.
    I am also used to taking both of these things personally. So
    I’m shocked when I notice that kind of media coverage about a missing
    person of color. The measure of satisfaction that coverage makes me
    feel — the sense of inequity and imbalance swinging toward equity and
    balance — is about representation.

    When I saw that kind of
    coverage about James Kim, I found myself identifying with him differently
    than, say, Laci Peterson, Natalie Holloway or Elizabeth Smart. I am not
    a woman, not white, not young, not likely to be murdered by spouse (statistics suggest it might be another black guy) and not likely to disappear on a Caribbean island. Nancy Grace won’t
    sharpen her talons against some hapless guest’s gizzard on cable TV,
    weeknight after weeknight, over me. I’m not a parent, but I’m a geek — and like Kim, a journalist — who has traveled with loves ones in out-of-the-way places under lousy weather. So I had, if you will, skin in the
    game. At the same time, I feel more foolish for that feeling
    because I know and understand that heroism and tragedy don’t have
    colors or races, that our potential for them should be the same. I know
    and understand that the “skin” in “skin in the game” is a fiction, though
    you and I still walk around in a world where that particular fiction carries
    a wearying weight and multiple meanings: the rules of the “game” in
    “skin in the game.” That’s why it felt like a victory to see the
    coverage. Realizing how little it mattered — especially with finding
    Kim dead — was what made it suck. Noticing difference isn’t
    what bugs me. It’s the significance of the difference. It’s why I pay
    attention. It informs what I see, why I think I see and how I make
    sense — or order — of it all.

    Thank you for commenting.

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