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OCA Fairfield County Chapter
AAPI Celebrations

The Legacy of Vincent and Lily Chin Exhibit

OCAFC brought this exhibit to Connecticut for the month of May in honor of the AAPI Heritage Month. It can be seen at the brand new and beautiful New Canaan Library throughout May.

Vincent was a young Chinese man at his own bachelor party when he was racially assaulted in a barroom brawl by two white auto workers, a father who was a supervisor, and his step son who had been laid off. More fuelefficient Japanese cars gave Detroit serious competition, leading to massive layoffs. The two autoworkers followed him into the parking lot and beat him to death with a baseball bat. The two pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to three years probation and a $3,000 fine but served no jail time.

This unfair sentence galvanized the diverse Asian American groups for the first time. They marched together in protest, seeking justice. This incident became the impetus for the Asian American civil rights movement. The exhibit also explores Vincent’s mother, Lily’s efforts to seek justice for her son.

This exhibit can be seen at the New Canaan Library at 151 Main St., New Canaan throughout May. The exhibit was curated by OCA National and has been traveling around the country. It was last in Chicago and will go to Washington DC for the OCA National Convention scheduled for July 12-16.

Panel Discussion: “Healing Asian Hate After Vincent Chin”

Building on the 41st anniversary of Vincent Chin’s killing, a panel discussion was held at the New Canaan Library on May 8, “Healing Asian Hate After Vincent Chin”. It was well attended by an enthusiastic crowd of 160 people. Panelists were CT’s Attorney General William Tong, Ms. Ngoc Dinh, Director of Customer Success, Microsoft, Ms. Carmen Hughes, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Accessibility Strategies Officer, City of Stamford and Dr. Jason Chang, Director of Asian & Asian American Studies & Associate Professor of History, UConn. The panel was moderated by Pauline Brody, VP of OCAFC.

This was a part of the important continuing conversation we as a community need to have, on how our society can become a place that welcomes all diverse peoples that make up our great country. The panelists shared touching stories of personal experiences with racial bias. Despite being a third generation mixed Asian American, Dr. Chang had unaccepted in his childhood in mid-Western America, a “forever foreigner”. Ms. Dinh, a Viet Nam refugee, felt the animosity against the war in Viet Nam, but was grateful for those who befriended the family. Ms. Hughes shared the story of a playmate invited to her house who refused to play with black dolls. When told “but I am a Black”, her friend retorted, “You’re not Black. You are just sun-tanned”. Attorney General Tong recounted how when he first went into politics, a well-meaning friend told him to change his last name to that of his White American wife’s. “But I am Asian American. Just look at my face!” The themes of “otherness” and the need for society to feel comfortable with and accepting of those who are different were threaded throughout the conversation. The importance of education as an early change agent was emphasized.

We welcomed the collaboration of the New Canaan Library, STAR (Stand Together Against Racism) and AAPI Westport in putting this program together. The generous grant from M&T Bank supported the reception that followed. Guests mingled and networked while enjoying food from five different Asian countries.

This was the third panel discussion on Asian Hate OCAFC has participated in. Two years ago, we partnered with Grace Farms to bring “Hope Over Hate”.  view Hope-Over-Hate Event at Grace Farms

Last year, we partnered with AAPI Westport and held “#Stop Asian Hate: 1 Year Later”  view News 12 report

This year’s “Healing Asian Hate After Vincent Chin” can be viewed here.  view “Healing Asian Hater After Vincent Chin” Panel Discussion

Educational Enrichment at Naramake Elementary School

OCAFC joined our partner organization NICE (Norwalk International Cultural Exchange) in celebrating AAPI Heritage Month with the Naramake Elementary School in Norwalk on May 18. This was part of NICE’s pilot educational enrichment project which was funded by CT Humanities. The goal is to introduce different cultures to young children so that they would grow up with knowledge and understanding of peoples of different ethnicities and cultures. Two sessions were held, one for the students from the higher grades, and another for the younger students. The session began with a little information on Asia, the countries and languages. A Chinese dance group, Li Garden Dance performed two traditional dances, followed by audience participation. Energetic dances by Bollywood Fitness With Neha rounded the program. The students were attentive and thoroughly enjoyed the hour spent immersed in Asian culture.