On November 4th, the movie Vincent Who? will be making it’s Los Angeles premiere. This documentary was developed and produced by the folks over at Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, and if you are in Southern California I highly recommend that you come.
Over 25 years ago, the hate crime murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit galvanized the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. This new 40-minute documentary, winner of the Media Award from the National Association for Multicultural Education, looks back at the movement that started from the case and asks how far we have come and how far we still need to go.[apap]
The story of Vincent Chin’s horrible murder is an important historical event marking how hate crime policies developed for the APIA community. The movie traces the event and how little is remembered about this landmark case. Chin’s story is one that as South Asian Americans, we can all relate to. Every few months it seems another story of a hateful crime against a South Asian comes through the Sepia Mutiny bunker. It feels repetitive to write stories about hijabs getting pulled, brass knuckle beatings, or the murder of 26 yr. old Satendar Singh for being in a park. But these are the stories occurring in our community that deserve to be told.
Today also marked another historical landmark for hate crimes. After ten years of opposition and delay, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
[The legislation makes] it a federal hate crime to assault people based on sexual orientation, gender and gender identity. The new measure expands the the scope of a 1968 law that applies to people attacked because of their race, religion or national origin. The U.S. Justice Department will have expanded authority to prosecute such crimes when local authorities don’t.[huffpost] The president had this to say at the commemorative event after the signing:
And that’s why, through this law, we will strengthen the protections against crimes based on the color of your skin, the faith in your heart, or the place of your birth. We will finally add federal protections against crimes based on gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation. (Applause.) And prosecutors will have new tools to work with states in order to prosecute to the fullest those who would perpetrate such crimes. Because no one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hands of the person they love. No one in America should be forced to look over their shoulder because of who they are or because they live with a disability.[whitehouse]
The signing of this legislation marks an exciting day that many of community activists in the our community have worked long and hard for. Hopefully, the effects of the bill will make a significant improvement to how hate crimes are categorized and legislated on the ground.
Full disclosure: I make an appearance in the film talking about the importance of web organizing for getting the word out on hate crimes in the community. Should still be a good movie.