Vincent Chin was beaten with a baseball bat 27 years ago today in a Detroit suburb, and died four days later.
At the time, I was three years out of art school, managing a paint store, and was a budding young rock critic writing for Denver’s alternative newspaper, Westword. I didn’t follow any news coverage about the attack on Vincent Chin, and I was clueless about the importance of his tragic death. I was still a “banana” — yellow on the outside, but white on the inside. Like the name of the 2008 documentary film about the impact of Chin’s murder on the Asian American community, if you had asked me then about him, I would have said, “Vincent who?”
Today, Vincent Chin is very much on my mind. I haven’t seen director Tony Lam’s “Vincent Who?” yet, but I definitely feel I’m a part of Chin’s legacy. In the decades since, I’ve become aware and much more appreciative of my ethnic roots, culture and history as a Japanese American, which I used to take for granted. I’ve also become much more aware of my place in the much larger Asian American community. Continue reading