On the night of June 19th, 1982, Chinese-American Vincent Chin was out with friends having a ‘bachelor party’. Later, Chin was brutally beaten outside a McDonald’s with a baseball bat by Ron Ebens as his stepson Michael Nitz, because they believed he was Japanese.
Four days later, Mr. Chin died due to his injuries. Ebens and Nitz were initially charged with second-degree murder, however, this was brought down to manslaughter, which resulted in them serving no time in jail, 3 years probation, and a $3,000 fine. This verdict angered the Asian community and resulted in the two being charged for violating Chin’s civil rights. Ebens was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years in prison, but after an appeal, the retrial was moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was later found not guilty. The documentary “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” highlights the issues of our societal tendency to immediately categorize someone by their physical appearance. Many people in this world will automatically judge someone based on the color of their skin and other physical traits. Although many consider extreme racism to be less prevalent, there are still prevalent racial issues.
This film is a key example of people constantly assuming someone’s ethnicity based on how they look. On this night, Ebens saw Chin and automatically assumed that he was Japanese. Ebens, a recently unemployed auto worker, blamed Japanese outsourcing for his and many others unemployment. He reportedly said to Chin “It’s because of you m-fs that we’re out of work.
” When you do this, you are defining someone based on assumptions and are neglecting a big part of who they are such as other cultures and ethnicities they identify with. Ebens easily could’ve asked Chin his ethnicity, but instead he falsely pre-judged him, which resulted in the tragic death of Vincent Chin. Throughout the film, Ebens consistently excuses his actions and motive by discrediting Chin and constantly denying being a racist. At one point, he tries to confirm this by mentioning his daughter once tutored an asian kid, as if that shows his tolerance. Even a friend of Vincent’s, who was with him that night said “He didn’t seem handicapped by the fact that he was Chinese.” The fact that people are not educated on certain racial issues is appalling, as demonstrated by his friend. The fact that he uses the term disability to describe Chin’s ethnicity shows the common misbelief that people who aren’t white were somehow inferior.
While his friend probably did not intend for it to sound prejudiced, it shows the need for proper education about what racism is, where it comes from, and what you can do to help prevent it. Racial intolerance is still very prevalent all across America, and just because there has been legislation passed, does not mean racism no longer exists. This case showed the potential consequences of thinking ‘You all look the same’ to any person of color.
Great strides have been made in our society, but clearly racism and prejudice still exist and need to be dealt with before we can progress further as one society.