Friday, February 19, 2010

Vincent Chin and his Unintended Gift

Today, I was able to catch a screening of Curtis Chin's "Vincent Who?" at the UCLA School of Law and to make sure I would make it to the screening on time, I left two hours in advance but thanks to my terrible driving, atrocious traffic at the 405, and my unfamiliarity with the UCLA campus, what should've taken 25 minutes ended up taking two hours.

Why did I really want to make it to the screening on time? Back when I was at the College of William & Mary, my professor and mentor, Francis Tanglao-Aguas, showed his class the documentary "Who Killed Vincent Chin?" Before watching this movie, I had no idea who Vincent Chin was.

After watching the movie, I cannot recall any movie that has made me feel so helpless and infuriated at the same time. I'm sitting there, holding back my tears, blood boiling in my body, wanting to yell and scream, to punch a wall, to do SOMETHING that can make me feel better about myself and the world that we live in. For those who don't know, Vincent Chin was a Chinese American who was mistaken for being Japanese and as a result, was beaten in the skull with a baseball bat by two white men. He lapsed into a coma and died on June 23rd, 1982. To this day, those two men, Ronald Ebens and his stepson, Michael Nitz, has yet to serve a single day in prison.

What is the significance of Vincent Chin and his tragic death? It is because of his death that for the first time in history, Asian Americans mobilized as a single cohesive unit and it wasn't just the Chinese community or the Koreans or the Filipinos that protested, but EVERYBODY, the entire community protested as community of one along with other non-Asians. Asian American activism became alive again, from the fire that was once dormant since the radical time of the 60's in Southern California. For the first time in history, Asian Americans across the nation rallied to fight against the injustice, to fight against the U.S. court decision telling them that the life of an Asian person means absolutely jack shit.

There are no shortages of hate crimes in this world. Joseph Ileto, a Filipino American postal worker in Los Angeles who was killed in cold blood by a white supremacist on August 10th, 1999. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner in Arizona who was killed because the shooter thought he was a terrorist simply because Sodhi was wearing a turban. He was killed on September 15th, 2001, the first hate crime victim to be killed as a result of 9/11 and the irrational fear that took over America.

These two Asian American individuals, out of many who were killed in ignorance and hatred, had people and community activists who fought for their recognition...their recognition that their life was not worthless and that justice needs to be served. The mobilization to protest as Asian Americans originated with the death of Vincent Chin.

So with the screening of "Vincent Who?", I saw that there were many people who were infuriated by the death of Vincent Chin just like I was and made it their life goal to make changes in this world. I saw how the Japanese American community immediately bonded with the Muslim American community right after 9/11 and how the JACL wanted to make damn sure that the U.S. government did not even consider setting up internment camps, so that the Muslim community did not have to suffer what the Japanese community did more than 60 years ago. I was awed by all the interviewees in the documentary, people passionate about the matters that I'm passionate about, doing their part to make a difference in the world.

Where am I now at this point in my life? I just graduated from college and I've only been here in LA for two weeks. I have yet to find a job even though I can easily continue being a server again except I'm being so goddamn stubborn since I want a job that actually makes a difference to what I am passionate about. Then again, I'm better off wishing for penguins to start flying. I'm also a wannabe actor, but have yet to take off ANYWHERE with that, and if I want to act, I want to be in things that means something. Once again, I'm better off wishing for penguins to start flying.

What can I do then? What can I possibly control in my life?

I can write. I can write about the things that matters most to me and maybe I will be able to share that passion with the readers who stumble on this blog. Whatever I want to do in my life, I want to join the ranks of the people who have made a difference in their own unique way, to share the love and view of tolerance, appreciation, and respect, to make this world a better place. Insha'Allah, I hope I find my own way of contributing something to this world.

1 comment:

chaska said...

Write! Yes! Words are love.

Love you.