Sunday, June 22, 2014

Francis Wong on #iamvincentchin

From jazz musician Francis Wong, reprinted with permission:
#iamvincentchin As with so many at that time the killing of Vincent Chin and the absolution of his murderers hit close. I was 25 at the time just two years younger than Vincent. And while what seems a world away from the unemployment and challenging conditions of Detroit, I had faced many potentially violent confrontations with white male students on campus in my undergraduate years at Stanford, particularly as I was doing my political organizing around issues such as the defense of affirmative action and divestment in South Africa. Particularly scary was being accosted by a group of white men in a pick up truck as I posted flyers by myself on campus for Asian American Student Association activities. (I never did that again alone). I became acutely aware of my vulnerability and developed sensitivity for situations that could get out of hand leading to dire consequences. In the decades since, this sense of danger has not abated; facing blatant and hateful behavior on occasion in my travels as a musician in our country. Of course, while I try to be careful, this has not deterred my participation in efforts to assert our humanity in our society. The killing of Vincent Chin led to a very passionate and transformational movement that I am forever grateful to have been a part of. Especially important to me was the opportunity to have a direction in my early career as a musician playing in Jon Jang's ensembles as a means to participate in a watershed period of development in our community. Thanks for listening/reading, I know this is a little long.

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