6.20.2007

why vincent chin still matters

Some follow-up on the anniversary of Vincent Chin's death... The Detroit Free Press has a look back: Fighting hate, 25 years later. Some folks have written to me, questioning what's so significant about a murder case that happened 25 years ago? What's so important? You might dismiss it, considering all the causes and stories Asian Americans make noise about these days. But you have to remember that before Vincent Chin, there was very little collective, cohesive sense of Asian American empowerment...
The Chin killing remains a touchstone for the Asian-American community in both Michigan and across the nation, binding previously scattered communities of Chinese-, Japanese-, Korean- and Filipino-Americans to advocate against racial discrimination and hate crimes.

"It brought together Asian Americans as Asian Americans and forged a movement," said Frank Wu, dean of the law school at Wayne State University. "It made this group of people who had very little in common realize that even if their ancestors hated each other, they had a common cause in America. That's why this case still matters."

This unity continues to be central in Asian-Americans' ability to affect change, said Stephanie L. Chang, a board member of the American Citizens for Justice, a community advocacy group formed in the wake of the Chin killing.

"With some of the recent incidents from the past year -- the Vietnamese man in Grand Rapids -- people are starting to understand that we have to talk about these issues collectively instead of in our separate ethnic groups," Chang said Monday.

In November, a Vietnamese man was beaten after an altercation inside a club in Grand Rapids, during which racially derogatory slurs allegedly were made against Asian women. No one has been arrested or charged in the incident.
Hate crimes still happen. There is still violence against Asians... call it a bias attack, ethnic intimidation, racially-motivated, hate crime, whatever. I'm not saying that addressing violence against other communities and peoples is not important. But I'll be damned if I'm going to stay quiet while people in my community become victims. Here's another opinion piece reflecting Vincent Chin, by Sehjong Hamjong in The Daily Texan: 25 years later: In memory of Vincent Chin. The National Townhall on Hate Crimes is still happening in some cities. Check here for details on the events in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington DC, San Francisco and other cities.

Oh, and a lot of folks have asked me where they might get a copy of Christine Choy and Renee Tajima-Pena's documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin? on DVD. Here's the thing. The is film actually only available for educational distribution from Filmakers Library, which means your school or library can purchase it for $395, or rent it for $95 (your school or library might actually already have it). That's a pretty hefty price for the average viewer. I have no idea if/when there are plans for a home video release. That's why it's important to catch screenings of the film when you get the chance. And I highly recommend checking it out. Hell, I'd call it required viewing.