In history, as well as nowadays, there are cases of racism-related violence. Although today the legislation is more supportive of immigrants, legal foreign workers, or any people of different ethnicity, the acts of hate still occur, and the Asian American community is one of the vulnerable population groups. In order to find the solution to this important social problem, it would be useful to analyze certain cases of such violence and its consequences. This essay will be focused on the Chin case and its significance, as well as on the reasons for anti-Asian crimes and ways to deal with the situation.
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The Chin case is one of the most well-known and important crimes connected with anti-immigrant racism. Vincent Chin was a Chinese-American killed by two white men in Detroit, Michigan, in 1982: he was beaten to death with a baseball bat by the autoworkers (Chen 367). The reasons behind the murder were connected with the number of workplaces occupied by immigrants at the time of the spreading unemployment; the killers were laid-off workers. The period of the 1980s was characterized by the increased anti-Asian violence, especially in relation to the Japanese people; Chin was also mistaken for a Japanese (Chen 368). In Detroit, where auto imports from Japan outweighed the domestic industry, Asians were especially vulnerable.
Although injustice and the racial nature of the murder are evident, the prosecution of the killers did not lead to severe punishment. The men received insignificant fines and three years of probation (Chen 368). However, it would be fair to say that for the Asian-American community, the case of Vincent Chin became a tragic example of racial injustice. For other Americans, this unprecedented case demonstrated that urgent changes are needed and that America is defined by individuals and their attitude to foreign people like Chin. As Robinson and Chang emphasize, the murder proved that Asian Americans and their families are in danger (127). Moreover, the mild punishments of the killers illustrated the lack of governmental support.
Researchers still debate about possible reasons for such violence towards Asians. Among the most important factors, there are economic issues influencing the number of hate crimes. The dominance of Japanese production on the market was mentioned above, in relation to the Chin case. Another aspect is that the influx of Asians in the 1970s coincided with the economic decrease, and many Americans considered that they were suppressed by the immigrants (Pincus and Ehrlich 202). This idea is especially clear in the case of China, which was killed by laid-off men. Finally, the evidence is that many Korean immigrants started their businesses at that time, which consequently led to cases of harassment.
The demographic factor also played an important role in increasing the number of anti-Asian crimes. Between 1970 and 1990, about nine million people immigrated to the U.S., and Asians were perceived as “taking over the country” (Chen 369). This opinion caused another popular perception that white people became a minority in the U.S. Nowadays, the successful image of Asian Americans, namely academic and economic achievements of this community, also leads to resentfulness and jealousy towards this minority (Pincus and Ehrlich 197). It is possible to see that the causes of hate crimes vary, and the situation requires an integrated solution.
The anti-racial measures of that time could not be characterized as significant; moreover, many of them did not support the vulnerable population groups. Proposition 187, for example, was based on the idea of perceiving immigrants as “aliens” who needed to be taught a lesson” (Chen 370). Recent attempts, such as the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, were also unsuccessful (Chen 372). The difficulty of coping with racism is also associated with religious discrimination (Chua 378). Many organizations focusing on immigrants’ rights have developed to address broader problems of homeland security (Chua 378). However, the issue of violence remains, and there are many opinions on how the country can stop hate-based crimes.
It is believed that hate crimes are perpetrated by individual actors and are partly supported by the legislation. Therefore, Chen emphasized the role of the state in border patrol and the historical context behind such crimes, namely the system of domination and subordination. He saw the solution in community education and mentioned the unreliability of “state and law enforcement agencies” (Chen 374). Other methods include controlling the stereotyping of Asians in media, as it also influences the attitudes towards Asian people. Although the Chin case proved the insignificant role of federal laws, many civil rights organizations make efforts to improve legislation and prosecution of anti-Asian crimes and racial discrimination in general (Chou and Feagin 227). The Asian communities themselves form organizations to strengthen their political and social status (Chou and Feagin 228). To sum up, the problem can be solved on the individual, organizational, and federal levels.
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Hate crimes towards Asian Americans are only a part of the problem of the increased border patrol and racial discrimination in general. Sometimes, violence towards people of color is caused by racial prejudice, negative stereotyping, and the fear of the dominance of minorities, connected with an influx of immigrants. Moreover, economic factors include the dominance of foreign production and emerging foreign companies and businesses. Consequently, the employment of people of color also made unemployed white Americans feel suppressed (Chen 368). Therefore, urgent actions are needed to support and protect innocent people. As researchers emphasize, it is not possible to fully rely on legislation; however, many organizations continue their attempts to achieve better prosecution of hate crimes. Community education, the influence of media, and other factors may help avert the frequency of offenses. Although such measures are not always successful, together they can gradually improve the overall situation.
Chen, Terri Yuh-lin. “Hate Violence as Border Patrol: An Asian American Theory of Hate Violence.” Asian Pacific American Experiences Past, Present, and Future, edited by Eunai, Kim Shrake and Edith Chen, Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 2012, pp. 346-374.
Chou, Rousland S., and Joe R. Feagin. Myth of the Model Minority: Asian Americans Facing Racism. Routledge, 2017.
Chua, Peter “Homeland Security and Racism.” Asian Pacific American Experiences Past, Present, and Future, edited by Eunai, Kim Shrake and Edith Chen, Kendall Hunt Publishing Company, 2012, pp. 375-378.
Pincus, Fred L., and Howard J. Ehrlich, editors. Race and Ethnic Conflict: Contending Views on Prejudice, Discrimination, and Ethnoviolence. 2nd ed., Routledge, 2019.
Robinson, Greg, and Robert S. Chang. Minority Relations: Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation. University Press of Mississippi, 2016.