This week, we highlighted Vincent Chin, the subject of a documentary who was killed by two laid-off autoworkers in a racially motivated crime in Detroit 30 years ago.
We found this documentary noteworthy because it drew attention to the role racial tension plays in the aftermath of his death and recent deaths. Just last week, we discussed the Trayvon Martin shooting and the role race and appearance may or may not have played in his death.
Attendees of the documentary drew parallels between the two autoworkers and George Zimmerman, saying that the results of the cases are remarkably similar thus far.
Zimmerman has not, as of yet, been charged with a crime. Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, the two autoworkers charged with Chin’s death, were sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a fine, which has yet to be paid, according to Curtis Chin, the documentary’s director.
Even though Chin’s death occurred 30 years ago, we admit that it’s difficult to see how probation and a fine is seen as justice for killing a fellow human being.
What’s even more difficult to accept is how few people know about Chin’s death today, which prompted the title of the documentary, especially in Michigan.
He died in our state, and his death is considered a turning point of a movement, but nearly 30 years later, a majority of young Asian Americans are unfamiliar with the man whose death started the movement that birthed the modern “Asian American” identity.
Even though there is still plenty of debate about the Martin case, we can’t help but wonder about some of the changes that could potentially stem from it. The reasons for Martin’s death are still unclear, but what has become clear in the last few weeks is how Martin’s appearance has become the center of debate.
Hoodies have become a symbol in protests across the country. Geraldo Rivera, a commentator on the Fox News network, said that Martin’s hoodie was a major reason why he was killed. This comment was not seen as just an attack on an African American male, but an attack on all youth, regardless of race, across the country.
We wonder if Martin’s death has the power to draw young people together like Chin’s death drew Asian Americans together. We wouldn’t be surprised if young people came together with a unified voice because of Martin.
Killing another human being is horrific, and we hope for the day when senseless killings of every kind can stop. But we also believe that we can learn from these horrible situations.
At the very least, we hope these deaths are the catalyst for serious reflection about our own beliefs and actions.
We will always call for peace and respect for our fellow human beings, and if we can bring some of that peace into the world, then perhaps something hopeful, however small it is, can come out of something horrible.