are you old enough to remember the summer of 1982? if you are, did you hear about vincent’s story? if you cannot recall what happened to vincent chin, here is a little reminder: https://www.history.com/news/vincent-chin-murder-asian-american-rights
vincent chin was a 27 year old chinese man living in michigan. he was killed because two disgruntled auto workers thought he was japanese. for many people in the usa, asians get put into one box. it doesn’t matter if your korean, cambodian, vietnamese, hmong or filipinos. i have been mistaken for being chinese countless times in my personal experience– i get still get mistaken for being chinese to this day.
for vincent chin, it cost him his life. in 1982 vincent chin’s death represented bigotry against all asians. in 2021, we have a new version of it.
in 1927, my father, rudy, came to the usa as a 17 year old looking to work and live the “american dream.” it was a rosey colored image of america taught in the us-styled school system implanted in the philippines. he was one of the “manongs.” while picking fruits and vegetables in central valley california, he saw many of theses types of signs:
my father knew of the 1930 watsonville riots and murder of filipinos. my father learned to lay low in the usa– his american dream changed to from gold paved roads to survival. the immigrant chinese and japanese have their unique usa histories of bigotry before us filipinos. but we are still grouped together for one reason: we are not white. in later decades, we are joined now by other immigrants from asian countries. also add to the mix immigrants from india and other pacific islands. please join our “asian” group– more people to scapegoat.
two disgruntled ex-auto workers in detroit in 1982 have morphed into extremist white nationalists almost 40 years later. their frustration rears its ugly head in public against anyone different: muslims, brown people at the southern border, anyone with a black lives matter sign– and “asians.” bigotry and scapegoating are alive and well in the usa.since the covid pandemic there has been a rise in physical attacks on asian-americans. for these violent extremists, all asians are mistakenly responsible for the virus spreading. sadly, many of these assaults are against elderly asians. where is the outrage?
perhaps we will always have new chapters of bigotry in the usa. one thing that we have learned more pointedly is how bigotry exists within the ranks of the police. we are making the connections of how this bigotry seeps into and forms a law enforcement culture that can lead to abuses of power.
abuse of police power is the heart of the black lives matter movement. the image of the police officer kneeling on the neck of george floyd has sparked righteous outrage and a greater societal solidarity that wants change and a stop to police abuse of power.
yesterday, i learned of a man named angelo quinto. he died at the hands of antioch, ca police officers. if you missed it, here is a summary: https://www.newsweek.com/angelo-quinto-dies-police-kneel-neck-5-minutes-family-1571603 . it’s still under investigation, but it seems that abuse of power was involved in angelo’s death.
angelo is a filipino george floyd. a police knee to their necks killed them both.
that area of antioch, vallejo, concord, martinez, pinole has many filipino residents. i am sure that there have been some public gatherings of support for angelo and his family. most likely, there are some good community organizers who are trying to get the word out of this tragedy and cry out for accountability and justice. now that there has been national coverage of the story, there will be more people in solidarity with the cause.
but will there be a connection made between angelo quinto and george floyd? will the brown/asian/filipino communities be more in solidarity with the black lives matter movement? do we understand that it is people of color that suffer because of the abuse of power?
or will angelo quinto’s death be a footnote much like vincent chin? how will 2021 be different from 1980s and the 1930s?
for catholic filipinos, can there be a spark of the “people power revolution” of 1986 that stands up to abuse by public servants? who is the cardinal jaime sin among the bishops who lead and guide us? can our faith move beyond a privatized devotion within church walls to a love shown in the common good on the streets? where is our righteous anger and justice based on the love of neighbor/enemy that jesus taught? can we be instruments of the Spirit and a source of healing and understanding in the midst of senseless killings by those commissioned to protect and serve the public?
do we really understand that black, brown and asian peoples need to be in solidarity against bigotry and abuse of power if significant change is to be made?
yes, i have many questions. but i know one thing: new chapters of race relations will open. will we participate and choose actions toward a more just society? or will there be more subtle and life ending abuse because of bigotry? will future vincent chins and angelo quintos die needlessly because of our failure to care and act?
i pray that the Spirit give us the graces we need to be healers of the tears from abuse– especially at the hands of police. i pray that we people of color and goodwill may unite for true justice, peace and love that we all desire.