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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Music: Vincent Chin

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 Posted by Chris Tung , , No comments
It's been about almost a month since my previous blog post, and I apologize for the massive break between writing. I recently moved to New York and am pursuing a career in publishing/editorial so things have been busy, but I finally have some time to sit and surf the net.

I then chose to pull up a website I frequent every so often (Angry Asian Man and I had to post this video/music video that Model Minority created to remind the Asian American community about our people's history and to emphasize the fact that the struggle for equality does not just go away. It is constant. Without further ado, here's the song:

Although Model Minority clearly put hours of work into each word, I just wanted to take some time to focus on these lines:

"If it's Vincent Kim it's still the same/ If it's Vincent Sato it's still the same/ If it's Vincent Nguyen it's still the same"

From the Asian American people I talk to--be they family, friend, classmate, coworker, etc.--I frequently find them making cultural distinctions that ultimately limit the Asian American communities ability to unite and create change. Rather than seeing the shared experiences that one Asian Ethnic community has with another, Asian Americans (1st, 2nd, etc.) only see the differences.

"I'm Chinese and he's Korean so his struggles are not my problem". But what Model Minority is able to expertly touch on is that in the eyes of other racial groups (in particular, the white hegemony that dictates the distribution of wealth, power, and education in America) only see the similarities. Ronald Ebens and his step son, Michael Nitz, did not recognize that Vincent Chin was a Chinese American. They assumed that yellow skin and slanted eyes must mean that Chin was a harbinger of the Japanese economic take over of the United States car manufacturing industry (which is a flawed argument for so many other reasons that I can't get into now).

This is how the majority sees the "Other". We are not Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Cambodian, etc. We are Asian. We are a homogenized group and it did not matter if Vincent Chin was Vincent Kim or Nguyen, it was the fact that he was Asian that allowed Ebens and Nitz to commit a murder and allow a white judge to let these men walk with the following claim:

"These weren't the kind of men you send to jail... You don't make the punishment fit the crime; you make the punishment fit the criminal."

Because two "up-standing" white men murdered an Asian American man, it HAD to have been a misunderstanding. A one time thing that Ebens and Nitz should not be punished for because they would NEVER do it again.

Although we live in the 21st century and great strides are being made for equality (New York just legalized Gay Marriage!), we--and by we, I mean all marginalized groups--need to recognize that the struggle for equality has and will always exist. Do not assume it is over because the group you affiliate with suddenly crossed off all the things on their "Equality List". Others are still under fire. Others are still being persecuted. And Others--like you once were--are still struggling for basic rights that we take for granted.