Racism Towards Asians Within the American Society Started Long Before This Pandemic

Andrei Tapalaga

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A 1983 protest march in Detroit after Vincent Chin’s killers, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and wCorky Lee

It is not just in today’s society that someone has to die due to being of a different color or nationality. This was actually a lot more predominant back in the day, but there is just one story that is stuck in my head and which I think everyone, not only all Americans should hear, but the whole world. I don’t say this in the interest of having my work read, but in the interest to educate those who don’t want to learn from history, especially those that do not want to evolve as a human being.

Back story

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Photo of Vincent ChinWikimedia Commons

Vincent Chin wasn’t your average Joe, but a dedicated worker who migrated in his young years with his family from China to America. Vincent was born on the 18th of May 1955 in the Guandong province of China. This was a very difficult time for the Chinese population due to the lack of work and food. Therefore, many citizens started to migrate all over the world, but especially to America as it was seen as the new promised land.

The city to which they moved was Michigan which was known at some point in time as the largest car manufacturing city in the world. However, in the early 1960s, America was hit by the recession due to the Japanese automobile industry making its appearance worldwide. Their technology was just ahead of time and with less fuel consumption, driving seemed more affordable to the average American citizen.

This meant that a lot of car manufacturing factories within Michigan had to close down. Those who were made redundant, were angry at the Japanese since they saw their success as being the fault for their redundancy. Hence, a small revolt started where these unemployed people would go around smashing Japanese cars and even beating people of Japanese descend just because they were left without a job.

Violently murdered for nothing

However, one case was taken too far. At this point, it is not even worth mentioning the stupidity of these people which took their anger out on people who had absolutely nothing to do with their redundancy. But, only to see more racism being produced by stupidity as this case will show.

Two of these angry unemployed American citizens were Michael Nitz and Robert Ebens who blamed the Japanese auto manufacturers for their unemployment. This anger had to go somewhere and in one night it did. On June 19th, 1982, Robert and Michael saw Vincent, which to them looked Japanese, therefore they beat him brutally to death with a baseball bat.

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Charles KaufmanFind a Grave

What is even more absurd about this whole case is that the two murderers pleaded guilty and got three years of probation and a fine of $3,870 which they never paid. That is how easy it was for two American citizens to get away with murder!

The judge who oversees this trial was Charles Kaufman, who was a POW (prisoner of war) during World War II (WW2). It is believed that he gave such an easy “punishment” to Robert and Michael because he hated the Japanese due to them being the enemy of America back in WW2.

America’s response

There was some media coverage and also some local protests that were mainly conducted by Chinese-American communities within Detroit. People did not really pay much attention to this case, in the sour sense that no one really cared. Many of these protests advertised the American legal system “charging” $3,870 for murder due to the sentence given to Robert and Michael, who killed Vincent for being Japanese, even if he was Chinese.

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People protesting in Detroit 1982NBC News

This comes down to the same reason as to why not many people actually know of this story. It is also said that the government paid off media outlets to keep this news on a down low, assuming that this is the reason why only people from Detroit remember this. Vincent Chin’s mother relocated back to China after seeing that America will not pursue justice for her son’s death.

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