Vincent Chin was a Chinese American living in Detroit who was having a bachelor party when he was involved in an altercation with two white, recently unemployed autoworkers, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz. Ebens, one of the autoworkers, directed a racist remark at Vincent: “It’s because of you little motherfuckers that we’re out of work!” referring to American automotive jobs being lost to Japan at that time despite Vincent not being Japanese. Their altercation was broken up but later that day, Ebens and Nitz tracked down Vincent and bashed him in the head with a baseball bat. The incident was witnessed by off duty police officers and Vincent was rushed to hospital and fell into a coma. Vincent would die days later on June 23, 1982, weeks before he was to be married. Ebens and Nitz never served any jail time for their crime as they were sentenced to three years probation. This outraged Asian Americans of various ethnic origins and is considered the moment that really spearheaded Asian American activism. For more information check out the Vincent Who? website. Here’s an article about Ebens’ view of the events 30 years later.
Much progress has been made since then but there have still been incidents of racism and violence against Asians in North America in recent years. It’s not necessarily as blatant as Asian students in Philadelphia being attacked but can be more subtle like the reporting on basketball player Jeremy Lin.