Vincent Chin’s legacy lives on. The brutal attack that took his life occurred late at night with few people around, but its reverberations spread across the country and have lasted for decades. Asian Americans came together to demand justice and found a common voice and purpose. Yet questions remain and justice goes undelivered.
In honor of Chin and thanks to the generosity of Joe Grimm, a former newsroom recruiter and staff development editor for the Detroit Free-Press, the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) has established a college scholarship. This scholarship rewards an accomplished, community-minded student journalist for an insightful, articulate essay related to Chin and his legacy.
AAJA is proud to announce the winner of this year’s Vincent Chin Memorial Scholarship. Samantha McCrory a student at University of Puget Sound was awarded $500 for her essay, “Could it Happen Again? It is Still Happening.”
Essay Topic Question Options for AAJA’s Vincent Chin Memorial Scholarship
Could it happen again? The attack on Vincent Chin occurred during a time in which Asians, specifically Japanese, were blamed for U.S. unemployment. People literally bashed Japanese cars with sledgehammers. Video and photos of such acts were shown in the news media. Few people connected them to potential attacks on real people. Does symbolic violence make it more acceptable to attack people? Does this climate exist against other people today? What can be done?
How are Asian Americans one people? Asian Americans overcame many differences in rallying together to seek justice after Vincent Chin’s killing. They came from different cultures and language backgrounds. They brought histories of being foes as often as being allies. In the Detroit area, though, they decided that an attack on a Chinese American man, mistaken for being Japanese, was a danger and an injustice to all. They united in protest. Some call this the start of a pan-Asian consciousness in the United States. How does life in the United States make people from so many nationalities one group?
Protest or conform? Some Asian Americans were reluctant to join the Vincent Chin cause. They had been pursuing success by getting along in the mainstream. Some had been acculturated to not make trouble or call attention to themselves. Yet a group of people began writing letters, visiting the media and protesting in the streets. This question about whether to protest or conform comes to every one of us. Although the stakes are not as high as justice over the death of a young man, we are all confronted at work or in other groups to decide: When and how do you make a stand?
Who was Lily Chin? The Vincent Chin trials paint the portrait of a mother in anguish. We frequently ask who was Vincent Chin or who killed him. The emergence of his mother as a strong voice is a compelling story too. Describe her life and her legacy.
“I love America. I think this is a good country. But now, after these men killed my son , I don’t like to live here. This is not fair. What kind of law is this? What kind of justice?”
- Lily Chin, Chin’s mother
QUESTIONS FOR US ALL
Even for those not vying for the scholarship, these questions can provoke productive discussion and reflection on what happened, the aftermath and its relevance today. AAJA hopes that Vincent Chin’s ultimate legacy will be to prevent others from suffering hate and injustice.