Vincent Chin Research Paper by Elizabeth Wang

Vincent Chin Research Paper by Elizabeth Wang - The Effect...

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The Effect of the Vincent Chin Hate Crime on the Asian American Community Elizabeth Wang 03/26/2014 POS 4202 Asian American Politics 1
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Introduction When the news of Vincent Chin’s death fell on the community, there was little response from the public. As a whole, the Asian American movement was quiet in areas outside of New York and California. In addition, the climate in Detroit was not sympathetic to Asian Americans because the popularity of Japanese cars affected the stability of Detroit’s very own automobile industry and employees. The citizens of Detroit treated Japanese influence and foreign presence with hostility, encouraging the public to bash Japanese imports and buy American cars. The Michigan Asian American population was few in numbers in the 1980s. As opposed to New York and California, the community did not develop the support and resources needed for a public outcry to hostile conditions. It took the announcement of the verdict for the community to rise together in disbelief and disappointment in the justice system. The lack of punishment for a racially charged crime infuriated all Asian Americans as Ron Ebens walked away with only a $3000 fine after taking a human life. A Chinese American organization, the American Citizens for Justice (ACJ), emerged as a direct response to Vincent Chin’s murder. The supporters raised up in arms to show the public that Asian Americans were unhappy with the current status quo. ACJ took the streets with more than 500 people and collected 4000 signatures to protest the tolerance of Ebens’ killing and to pressure the U.S. Department of Justice to press charges for a civil rights case (Niiya 1993, 83; Wang 2014). The formation of ACJ inspired other regional ethnic interest groups to combat anti-Asian violence, such as the Bay Area's Break the Silence Coalition (BTS), Boston's Asians for Justice Coalition, New York's Committee Against Asian American 2
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Violence (CAAV), Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), and Asian Law Caucus (ALC) that still exist today (Chi 2005, 88). With the rise of regional groups and activism as a whole, the Vincent Chin case reached a national level, inspired change, and affected people of all backgrounds. Not only did the murder of Vincent Chin propel the Asian American movement in the 1980s, legal actions following set a precedent for future discrimination cases. This paper will examine the legacies of the Vincent Chin case that created a framework for the Asian American movement, including new coalitions, greater Asian American awareness, and legislative changes. Coalition Building The concept of a pan-Asian movement started in the 1960s among college students, but it did not expand beyond that demographic until the 1980s (“Helen Zia Interview”). After Vincent Chin’s death in 1982, the Asian American movement shifted from the anti-war protests and ethnic studies to a focus on pan-ethnic issues, such as political empowerment, anti-Asian violence, and the impact of new immigration laws (Geron 2002, 176). Panethnic coalitions were a method to progress the Asian American
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