A security guard who shot 60-year old Jiansheng Chen in Chesapeake, Virginia last month now faces second-degree murder charges, and the security company he worked for has been fired by the Homeowner’s Association at the complex where Chen was killed.
Chen was reportedly playing “Pokemon Go” — an enhanced reality game wherein users visit local landmarks to collect pokemon and send them into battle — on the evening of January 26th when he pulled into the driveway of the clubhouse at the Riverwalk community complex less than a mile from his house. While parked in his minivan, Chen — whom family say had started playing the mobile app to better relate with his grandkids — was confronted by a vehicle driven by security guard 21-year-old Johnathan Cromwell of Virginia Beach that pulled up in front of him to block him. Chen then backed his minivan out of the Riverwalk clubhouse driveway and turned to face the street, apparently preparing to leave. That’s when Cromwell reportedly got out of his car and fired several shots from a handgun, hitting Chen five times, including four times in the chest.
Chen, who was 60 years old and unarmed, died on the scene.
75 years ago today, an American president passed an executive order that led to the forcible removal and incarceration of 120,000 Japanese and Japanese American men, women and children in American concentration camps (Note: JACL’s Power of Words Handbook).
For years, Japanese and Japanese American civilians were imprisoned in hastily-erected assembly centers and camps under harsh, isolated conditions and guarded by American soldiers whose guns were pointed inward. Racism lay at the root of this incarceration: America’s federal government offered the thin reasoning that incarcerees’ race was proof that Japanese American citizens and their parents were spies for the Japanese military. Actor George Takei was a child of 5 when he was labeled a threat to national security by his government, and forced by gunpoint to a distant incarceration camp.
Today, America is poised to repeat the mistakes of its history. A new president sits in the Oval Office who routinely uses the spectre of national security threats to target groups of people with discriminatory executive action. Compared to 1942, the victims may differ but the federal government’s reasoning is the same: entire communities of innocent civilians are being labeled as enemies of the state by virtue of their race alone.
In a joint letter delivered to the president yesterday (and shared to NBC News Asian America), 10 out of the remaining 14 members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) courageously resigned in protest of President Trump’s recent spate of laws targeting Muslims, immigrants, refugees and other people of colour. The ten commissioners join six additional commissioners who resigned their posts on January 20th when President Trump was first inaugurated.
That means that due to his hateful and intolerant policies, President Trump has in the first three weeks of his presidency just lost 80% of his Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
It’s only been a month since racist Trump trolls misidentified a woman at Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing as Washington Post editor Doris Truong, Inside Climate News’ Lisa Song, travel and parenting writer Leslie Hsu Oh, or basically any East Asian woman journalist of any prominence — and already people who think all Asians are the same person are at it again.
Bharati Mukherjee, author of prominent novels such as Jasmine and The Tiger’s Daughter, died on January 28, 2017. She was 76.
Mukherjee was born in Kolkata, India and graduated from the University of Calcutta in 1959 and a Master’s from the University of Baroda. Mukherjee pursued additional graduate degrees in the United States, receiving a Master’s of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa’s Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a doctorate in Comparative Literature from the same school.
Mukherjee is perhaps best known for her novel, Jasmine, which was published in 1989 and which explores the shifting identities of a young Indian woman as she seeks to find her place while growing up in America. Jasmine received widespread acclaim for its exploration of Asian American female identity — and specifically, Indian American female identity — when the genre of Asian American fiction was still in its infancy. The book also holds personal resonance for its formative role in my own growth as a student of Asian American literature and history, and for its unapologetic centering of a South Asian American female protagonist during a time in American literature when such writing was virtually unheard of.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!