Being introduced to Vincent Chin’s case without having any knowledge of who he was or what the case was about initially made me feel emotionally driven to understand how Asian Americans are being represented in the United States. As I participated in the discussion of the documentary “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” I became interested in the responsibilities of police enforcement and our justice system, which then led to thoughts of the United States education system. I watched the documentary after the class discussion, and after seeing the interviews with Vincent’s mother, the police officers, and Ron Ebens and Michael Nitz, I felt that there were unfair implications on Mr. Chin’s case.
As much as the documentary gave me an emotional experience and attachment to the people involved, I was also determined to understand the social condition of the United States during this time. As discussed in Glen M. Mimura’s “Ghostlife of Third Cinema” the presence of Asian immigrants posed challenges of the meaning of ethnicity and cultural politics. The topic on Ronald Takaki’s “Iron Cages” was an interesting example that helped me understand the legacy of white supremacy and imperialism in the United States. As described in “Ghostlife of Third Cinema”, the iron cage “distinguished reason from emotional or “instinctual” life and assigned rationality to white men while designating people of color and women as agents of distinct modes of emotionality…” (Mimura 8). To read that people of color and women were cast into a role that made them seem less represented than white men made me realize that the legacy of this way of thinking is still present in our society. In relation to Asian Americans, specifically, the Iron Cages narrated how capitalists saw Asia as a territory for conquest. I related this to our discussion in class about the word “The Orient” and how it was perceived as a seductive, foreign and exotic place. I am understand that certain words and definitions that relate to race and ethnicity can be very sensitive to how our society perceives different groups of people. I thought about how the history of imperialism impacted the settlement of Asians into America, and what it meant for immigrants to realize what opportunities they had in America, given the history brought by Takaki’s book about the Iron Cages.
As I relate the history of Asian Americans’ migration to America with Vincent Chin’s case, I acknowledge that there is much more history that I need to learn and understand in order to see Mr. Chin’s case without thinking in a reductionist way. Because I had an emotional reaction to the documentary, I noticed that I also wanted to see the logic behind how the case was broadcasted, and specifically analyze how Asian Americans are represented, and what needs to be done to help society become more aware of the responsibilities of our justice and educational system. Finally, I noticed that the Vincent Chin case made me become more aware of how the presence of Asian Americans in the media still has an evolving journey. From our class discussion, I learned that I am interested in challenging myself on how to make a create approach to research the ways in which Asian Americans can continue to have an equal and fair representation in America.
Glen Mimura. The Ghostlife of Third Cinema. University of Minnesota Press, 2009. Intro, Chapter 1.