Vincent Chin would have been 57 today. But the Michigan man never made it out of his 20s. Instead, 30 years ago this week Chin was brutally murdered when he was bludgeoned with a baseball bat wielded by two white, jobless auto workers who thought Chin, a Chinese-American man, was Japanese. “It’s because of you little [expletive] that we’re out of work,” witnesses said Ronald Ebens yelled at Chin before he and his stepson Michael Nitz trailed Chin and attacked him.
Chin’s Asianness made him a target at a time when it was popular to blame Japanese automakers for the crumbling U.S. auto industry. His death, and the protracted and largely unsuccessful fight to bring his killers to justice galvanized Asian-Americans, spurring the community to organize and act and speak out. On the 30th anniversary of his killing, civil rights advocates are telling his story again with fresh urgency…
Sharing our stories and knowing our history is a necessary, political act. The effort to keep the lessons of Chin’s death and the fight for justice from being swallowed up by the unstoppable passage of time is not about any romantic nostalgia—understanding the past is key to making sense of the ongoing fight for justice today..
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