‘Black political agenda for reproductive justice’ to overturn racism
Another moment to consider black and Asian solidarity on social justice issues came last week when former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd. That should have been the 30-year maximum, some said. Some TV commentators have said that there are drug dealers who have more time than Chauvin.
I had just completed my so-called Vincent Chin Murder News “Retreat” where I reviewed the stories I have made over the past 39 years of Asian American hate crime. most infamous ever in Detroit in 1982..
Want to hear about miscarriage of justice?
The man who killed Vincent Chin, Ronald Ebens, a white auto worker, did not serve jail time for the crime and was allowed to negotiate a plea to second degree murder. His sentence ? Three years of probation, a fine of $ 3,000 and $ 780 in court costs. That’s it, for second degree murder.
Outrage ensued and there was a federal civil rights case where Ebens was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison. But Ebens won an appeal for a new trial and got a change of venue from Detroit to Cincinnati. On May 2, 1987, Ebens was found not guilty of federal charges.
Only the civil case remained, and Ebens was ordered to pay $ 1.5 million to the Chin estate. But Ebens used bankruptcy laws in his new home state of Nevada to avoid paying a dime to the estate.
All of these facts were fresh in my head when I heard about Derek Chauvin’s 22.5 year sentence.
At first I was surprised, but frankly there is nothing clear about more than two decades in prison. With the potential for other cases Chauvin faces adding more time, having a cop in jail always gives the feeling that justice, while imperfect, has been served.
In the Chin case, the aggrieved people still expect some sense of justice.
Are Asian Americans the Model Minority? Not in the case of Chin.
Former Oakland resident Helen Zia, an Asian-American writer and executor of the Chin estate, told me that Chin’s the fight for justice was difficult.
“We had civil rights activists who said, ‘We will support you because Vincent was Chinese and thought he was Japanese, but if he was Japanese, we will not support because he deserved it,” Zia said. “I said what? Are you kidding? ‘ The implication was that the Michigan ACLU and the Michigan National Lawyers Guild were also affected by xenophobia triggered by Asians in the birthplace of the automotive industry. “They strongly opposed a civil rights inquiry because they said Asian Americans are not protected by federal civil rights law. This is something we had to discuss.
Fortunately, the national offices of these legal groups had more inclusive ideas.
“Here are some of the more liberal activist lawyers arguing that Asian Americans should not be included in civil rights law. Vincent was an immigrant. We had to establish that he was a citizen, which implied that there might not have been an investigation into civil rights had he not been naturalized. All of that stuff… these are hurdles that we had to overcome with major impacts today, ”Zia told me.
“Can you imagine if the Reagan White House had followed the Michigan chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and the Michigan ACLU and said, ‘Why should we look at civil rights extensively? We should not include immigrants and Asian Americans. And at that time that would include Latinos as well, because at that time, if you weren’t Black or White, what do you have to do with race? That was what people were telling us.
It’s hard to imagine that Asian Americans weren’t even heavy enough to step into the scales of justice not so long ago, in the 1980s. But it was.
All the more reason for a better understanding of Black / Asian solidarity.
We’ve all been tampered with, criticized and denied from day one, with a lot more in common than you might think.