Honoring the Legacy of Vincent Chin – Strengthening Cross-Racial Solidarity against rising tide of racist violence

Vidya Sethuraman
India Post News Service

Chinese American Vincent Chin, 27, was beaten in the head with a baseball bat by two white autoworkers in Detroit on June 19, 1982. Chin died in a hospital four days later, on June 23. That act and the miscarriage of justice that followed (neither assailant spent a single day in jail) marked the birth of the modern day Asian American civil rights movement, according to author and activist Helen Zia. Today Asian Americans face an even more intense climate of racist hate that is targeting all communities of color as well as Jews and Muslims.

Speakers explored the rising threat of violence and hate, efforts to build a stronger multi-racial movement of solidarity to address it, and plans to commemorate Chin’s death at a special 40th anniversary in Detroit (June 14-16).  Chin’s death and the lenient sentencing shocked and galvanized the Asian American community fed up with tolerating decades of racism and xenophobia.

Anti-Asian hate crimes increased more than 73 percent in 2020, according to newly corrected FBI data. It’s a disproportionate uptick compared to hate crimes in general, which rose 13 percent.  More recently, the onset of COVID-19 and deteriorating US-China relations has precipitated a sharp rise in anti-Asian bias, hate and violence.

Michael German, a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program said that incidents of discrimination against Asians have always existed. He said there are 230,000 hate crime cases each year, but only a handful are resolved at the federal level.

Helen Zia, author, activist and former journalist, founding member of the Detroit based American Citizens for Justice said 40 years later, discriminatory and violent crimes still exist, and some people even try to cause ethnic divisions, and some media reports are also biased, leading to further divisions. It is better now that minorities’ fight against discrimination and hate crimes is coming together.

John C. Yang, President and CEO, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC said hate crimes against Asian Americans have exploded in recent years and need to be addressed. The Atlanta shootings saw that the Asian community is strong. It is important to note that no force can be allowed to divide the Asian American community. However, the media reports that there are more cases of attacks against Asians by Africans. This is a force that divides minority groups. Asian Americans must stand by each other and call for a systemic solution to white supremacy.

Lisa Cylar Barrett, Director of Policy, NAACP Legal Defense Fund said on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Vincent Chen, we should jointly advance the policy against racial discrimination and correct some biased speeches and dissemination methods in the United States, because the one-sided dissemination of false information will only exacerbate racial discrimination and hate crimes.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month a time for us to recognize this community’s many contributions to America and redouble our efforts to combat anti-Asian violence and discrimination. Let’s work together to create a society where Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and all Americans can find their American dream without fear of violence and prejudice.

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