Sunday, July 01, 2007

25th Anniversary of Vincent Chin's Murder

Last week, (June 27) I was invited to speak on a panel in San Francisco as a part of he National Townhall on Hate Crimes remembering Vincent Chin on the 25th anniversary of his murder in Detroit, Michigan by recently laid off Chrysler plant work Michael Nitz and Chrysler plant superintendent Ronald Ebens -- who was also his step-father.

On the June 19, 1982, Vincent was attending his own bachelor party five days prior to his wedding. Unfortunately Vincent was assaulted and murdered by Ebens and Nitz and after being in come for 4 days died the day before his wedding. In what would have been one of the happiest days of his life, Vincent's 400 invited wedding guests, actually ended up attending his funeral.

Vincent's murder was truly a watershed moment for the Asian American community -- specifically the East Asian American community -- but it served as the first step in building a foundation for a true Pan-Asian activism. The community realized that they no-longer could sit back and be oprressed at the hands of the amjority community and had to ensure that they integrated themselves more fully into the mosaic of American society.

Please click about to read more about Vincent's tragic death and the miscarriage of justice that was carried about by the American judcial system in penalizing his guilty murderers.

ALAS, the event in SF went really well with over 60 people attending. On the panel in addition to myself was activst/author/filmmaker Helen Zia who has dedicated her life to being an advocate for the Asian American community and whose work was featured in the documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin; Yvonne Lee a principal of Lee Asian Community Affairs member of the SF Police Commission and formerly of the US Commission on Civil Rights; and Malcolm Yueng a staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus and homey who I have worked with a lot in the past.

It was a cool opportunity to sit with a number of fellow Asian American activists. It was difficult in some ways to represent the Sikh, Muslim, Hindu, South Asian, Middle Eastern and Arab American communities, but I think it warrants kudos to the event organizers to involve voices from our communities in the events across the country.

The diversity in the crowd was amazing -- not as many South Asians as I would have liked, but still a great crowd. I got to talk a bit about the fear in the South Asian communities; how we were attacked twice -- on on 9/11 by the terrorists and then after that by our fellow Americans who felt it was patriotic to lash out at us when it was in fact bigoted and ignorant; to the failure of the media to report on the true magnitude of hate crimes and bias related attacks on innocent Americans and show the image of Balbir Singh Sodhi after he was murdered in an effort to educate the populace of what misguided rage can lead to; to finally the disturbing trend of Sikh American men removing their turbans and shaving their beards to "fit-in" better and not look like "those terrorists".

In my closing remarks to the crowd, I closed with a sentiment of hope this event and others like it across the country -- both formal and informal -- would serve as the next step in the path to developing an Pan Asian voice and a Pan Asian movement. As South Asians we are lagging on our responsibilities to the communities we live in. Where are our voices on immigration, health care, the war in Iraq, and other hot-bottom topics that maybe dont effect us but we should be out there in the trenches supporting those that it does.

Also props to my boy Terence who rolled out to support a brotha and have my back incase I said something crazy and incited an East Asian rebellion :-)

All of us on the panel

Attendees listening to Malcolm speak some knowledge

Old mens posing for posterity



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home