The murder of Vincent Chin in 1982, which galvanized a national movement of Asian American activism that remains relevant and continues to grow, will be dramatized in a limited television series with the cooperation of his estate.
Participant Media, which has pioneered social justice-focused films and TV series like “Spotlight” and “When They See Us,” will develop and produce the series, the company said Thursday.
And for the first time, the series enjoys the blessing and involvement of Chin’s estate, managed by Helen Zia, the Asian-American journalist and activist who led the effort to seek justice for Chin after her murder. . Before her death in 2002, Chin’s mother, Lily, named Zia, whom she considered to be a daughter, the executor of the estate.
In June 1982, Chin, then 27, celebrated his next wedding in Detroit as he brutally beaten by two white auto workers, Ronald Ebens and his stepson Michael Nitz. Angry at the decline of the US auto industry and the rise of Japanese auto companies, outsourcing and economic deregulation, the two mistook Chin, who was Chinese-American, for Japanese.
A few days later, Chin passed away from his injuries. Ebens and Nitz were subsequently given lenient sentences for their crimes.
Chin’s murder and its aftermath marked a turning point in Asian American history and activism. It was a chapter in a long history of anti-Asian racism and violence in America – one of which is currently underway as Asian Americans face an alarming increase in racist attacks due to the pandemic. of COVID-19.
In 1987, Chin’s murder and the rise of Asian American activism were chronicled in a Oscar nominated documentary by Christine Choy and Renée Tajima-Peña. Aside from that and a handful of other documentaries and books, the subject is rarely covered in general history classes or portrayed in pop culture.
But given its renewed relevance today, there have been more recent attempts to tell Chin’s story, some of which have sparked controversy.
Earlier this week, the creators of a new podcast on Chin’s murder, “Hold Still, Vincent,” extracts the project from the podcast feeds. The team behind the podcast, which had been promoted by actor Gemma Chan and featured a chart read by a number of notable Asian actors, had not contacted Zia and Chin’s estate.
“Creators – please at least find out from people in the community who have gone through these experiences, including Lily and Vincent Chin’s estate,” Zia wrote on Instagram. “The AAPI community and its activists deserve this respect. I’m not dead yet and it’s weird to hear / see myself fictitious by people who have never tried to connect with me or the Domain. “
The new television series bills itself as “the only authorized account of the historic civil rights case.”
“With exclusive access to this pivotal moment in Asian American history, the series will reveal the definitive story of a civil rights movement that matters today more than ever, when a community discovered its voice.” Participant Media said in a statement.
Zia will be part of the show’s creative team, alongside producers Vicangelo Bulluck, Paula Madison and Donald Young, director of programs for the Center for Asian American Media.
In a joint statement, they said that “we understand the responsibility to ensure that this story is culturally and historically accurate and respects the legacy of Vincent Chin.”
“The brutal murder of Vincent Chin, at a time of intense anti-Asian hatred across the country, prompted Asian Americans to come together, unite with many diverse communities and create a new movement for racial justice that has impacted all Americans, ”Zia said in a statement. declaration.
“With the current tsunami of anti-Asian hate sweeping the world, the whole story of Vincent Chin and the powerful response from the community must be told, and I am delighted that the participant is leading this effort. “
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