Commissioner Susheela Jayapal Remarks

Vincent Chin Commemoration

6/23/2020

  • Good afternoon. I’m Susheela Jayapal, Multnomah County Commissioner for District 2, representing North and Northeast Portland.

  • We’re here today to remember and mourn for the life of Vincent Chin.

  • We’re here to remember the pure and unadulterated racism that led to his death.

  • And we’re here to remember, and continue to protest, the injustice of a system that allowed his murderers to escape any accountability.

  • We’re here to recognize the courage of Vincent’s mother, Lily Chin. Speaking up and speaking out was not something that had been part of Lily’s life experience.  She did it because she could not let the injustice stand un-remarked.

  • Lily Chin’s bravery rested on a foundation built by the movement for civil rights. She was supported by Black leaders -- like Jesse Jackson, who interrupted his presidential campaign to stand with her, to travel with her, around the country, as she demanded justice for Vincent Chin.

  • For all of our lives -- our Asian American lives and history in this country, our freedoms have been built on the foundations created by the struggle and leadership of Black activists, and writers, and poets, and educators.

  • Asian American activists have joined in that struggle. Grace Lee Boggs, Yuri Kochiyama, Richard Aoki, and many others joined with the Black Power Movement, the Black Panthers, and other Black leaders in the struggle for civil rights.

  • Yet for too long, too many of us non-Black Asian Americans, have seen ourselves as separate from the struggle between Black and white. 

  • For too long, too many of us have averted our eyes from the anti-blackness that is deeply rooted in our own communities and cultures. 

  • For too long, we have been quiet about -- and therefore complicit in -- the violence to Black people that is at the root of violence to us as well.  

  • That is changing. That is changing, and the change is powerful. Many more of us now recognize that we are part of the struggle. Many more of us now recognize that there is no neutral position in this fight. There is no neutral position.

  • Gopal Dayaneni, a South Asian activist who was a founder of the group Asians 4 Black Lives, has said this:

  • “The path to the liberation of all our communities travels through the liberation of Black people in America.”

  • [Repeat]

  • So In this moment, as we grieve the murder of Vincent Chin;

  • In this moment, as we grieve the murder of George Floyd, and of countless other Black people and Black trans people killed nationally and right here in Multnomah County; 

  • In this moment, as our community rises up and takes to the streets, and demands justice --

  • In this moment, we too, we too, must be loud, must be clear, must insist -- 

  • That Black Lives Matter. Vincent Chin’s life -- our lives -- will not matter -- until Black Lives Matter.

  • And “matter” -- “matter” is just the minimum. Black lives are worthy. Black lives are beloved. Black lives are needed.

  • Black. Lives. Matter.