A blog by former California Assemblyman Warren Furutani in Rafu Shimpo asserts that Asian Americans need to be part of the Trayvon Martin discussion. As with most race issues in this country, many have looked at Trayvon Martin case through a white-black lens. Never mind that Zimmerman identifies as Hispanic. Where then does that leave Asian Americans in this discussion?
“I contend we can’t be marginalized in this discussion, nor can we take the easy way out and not get involved. With the current controversial issue at hand, the Trayvon Martin case, we may or may not identify as victims, but regardless we need to be a part of the solution.”
Having read comments posted on AsAmNews and on Facebook about this case, I’m surprised at how many within the Asian American community don’t seem to find relevance in the Trayvon Martin case and their own experiences. Attempts to draw comparison between what happened to Trayvon Martin to Vincent Chin draw angry reaction from some within the Asian American community.
While there’s a sizable number who see how both Trayvon Martin and Vincent Chin were killed after being racially profiled, others choose to emphasize the differences between the cases.
Vincent Chin was beaten with a baseball bat in 1982 by two laid off auto workers in Detroit who blamed the troubles in the auto industry on the Japanese. They associated Chin, a Chinese American, with the Japanese and killed him. Both suspects were eventually acquitted of all charges.
Martin was followed by a neighborhood watch captain because he was an African American walking through a gated community in Florida that didn’t have a lot of blacks. Zimmerman followed Martin because he found that suspicious. A gunshot broke out during a scuffle between the two. Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter charges.
Both Chin and Martin were racially profiled. In both cases, the suspect or suspects won acquittals.
While Furutani doesn’t bring in the Vincent Chin case in his blog, he makes a strong argument that the jury considered Martin part of “they,” and Zimmerman was one of “us.”
So what does any of that have to do with the Asian American community? Are Asian Americans part of the “they or one of “us.” Read Furutani’s blog in Rafu Shimpo and see if you agree.