by Leah Budson
During A-block today, Asian Culture Club showed Vincent Who? for the first block of the annual Asian Culture Day. Vincent Who?, released in 2009, is a documentary film that details the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin.
Chin, a Chinese-American, was beaten to death with a baseball bat by Ronald Ebens June 23, 1982 in Detroit, Michigan. Ebens and his stepson Michael Nitz, who assisted Ebens in the assault, were given what is now considered an extremely lenient sentence of manslaughter, and they did not have to serve jail time. The movie quotes Judge Charles Kaufman as saying, “These weren’t the kind of men you send to jail.”
The premise of the movie, as alluded to in the title, is the fact that the Chin murder has been largely forgotten. In making the film, producer Curtis Chin (no relation to Vincent Chin) surveyed 80 young Asian Americans and found that not a single one had heard of Vincent Chin.
The movie also explores the effect Vincent Chin’s murder had on the Asian American community, including how outrage at the lenient verdict helped Asian Americans of all ethnicities to “band together under one cause,” said senior Sam Su, an officer of Asian Culture Club. One woman featured in the film, Doua Thor, said that “Vincent’s death opened a window for Asian Americans into the media.” Su noted that, as Thor articulated, because of Vincent Chin’s death “Asian Americans started to have a voice in the public.”
Su explained that the club chose the film both because students had enjoyed it in past years and because “we want to continue raising awareness about what had happened in the past and how that single event affected the Asian community.”
“I want people leaving with the message that you should always keep working at whatever you believe in,” said Su. “I, personally, was amazed by the commitment of Vincent’s mother and was moved by her motivation.”