Racism killed Vincent Chin
Unless you’re Asian-American or involved in civil rights in some way, chances are you’ve never heard of the name Vincent Chin. Older people can remember about it. He would have turned sixty-five in May 2020. Vincent Chin was assassinated and died violently because of racism. Unlike George Floyd, Vincent Chin did not die at the hands or knee of a police officer. Vincent Chin was beaten to death by two ordinary citizens.
Vincent Chin was born on May 18, 1955 in China. He was living in an orphanage when he was adopted in 1961 by a Chinese couple living in the United States, Bing Hing “David” Chin and Lily Chin. Chin grew up in Highland Park, Michigan, for most of the 1960s, but the family moved to Oak Park, Michigan, in 1971. Vincent Chin graduated from high school in 1973 and attended the Control Data Institute. He got a job as a cartoonist at a car supplier company and worked weekends as a waiter at a Chinese restaurant.
Detroit, Michigan, was the scene of racial animosity toward Japan and the Japanese in the early 1980s. There had been an oil shortage that drove gas prices up. Japanese cars, which were smaller and more fuel efficient than cars that were made in the United States, were gaining popularity. The US domestic market saw the decline of Detroit’s big three automakers, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. US auto workers were considered expensive with the cost of wages, pensions, health insurance, and union labor rules. Many auto workers in Detroit were laid off and lost their livelihood. The workers were angry and blamed Japan and the Japanese. They did not distinguish between the different ethnicities of Asians. Thus, the animosity was directed at any Asian they came into contact with, even though most of them were American.
Being engaged to a wedding date set for June 28, 1982, twenty-seven-year-old Vincent Chin was having a bachelor party at a club with some of his friends on the night of June 19, 1982. Also at the club. The club had two white men, Ronald Ebens, a Chrysler foreman, and his stepson, Michael Nitz, who had lost his job at Chrysler. Assuming Vincent Chin and his friends were of Japanese descent, a confrontation ensued with the two men who blamed Vincent Chin and his friends for causing the loss of their jobs. Young Asian Americans were insulted as they were accused of being Japanese and causing their problems. Vincent Chin and his friends, along with Ebens and Nitz, were expelled from the club. Chin apparently wasn’t intimidated, but they parted ways.
Ebens and Nitz drove for twenty minutes in search of Chin and his friends. They were found at a McDonald’s. Ebens savagely beat Chin with a baseball bat from his truck. An off-duty police officer witnessed the attack and later testified that Ebens acted as if swinging to hit a home run. He beat Chin to death when Chin died four days later in hospital. It was absolutely racism that caused Vincent Chin to die prematurely.
No one disputed the fact that Ebens had killed Vincent Chin. However, Ebens and Nitz did not receive any jail time and were fined $ 3,000. The murder was not national news at the time, but Asian Americans were outraged. The men admitted they were guilty because there were witnesses to the beating, but they were released. Racism was rewarded.
Blacks have faced extreme racism and still do. Racism is a terrible problem and affects a lot of people in this country. Something needs to be done about racism to improve conditions and create more equity in the world. People should not be subjected to racism.