The Deathly Embrace: Orientalism and Asian American Identity

By Sheng-Mei Ma | Go to book overview
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Vincent Chin and Baseball
Law, Racial Violence, and Masculinity

When the news of Vincent Chin's death reached Juanita, wife of Ronald Ebens, she saw no point in informing her husband, a white foreman at work at a Detroit automobile factory. She added during the interview in the eighty-two-minute PBS program “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” (1988) that her husband in fact came home late that evening because he played on a baseball team every Thursday. This passing reference provided a horrifying revelation for the viewers, for on June 19, 1982, or four days before his death, Chin was involved in a barroom brawl at Fancy Pants Lounge, a nude dancing establishment in Highland Park, Detroit, with Ronald Ebens and his stepson Michael Nitz, who later jointly stalked Chin for at least half an hour and then bludgeoned him to death with a baseball bat. She apparently did not wish to spoil Ronald Ebens's night out, a game of leisure utilizing their weapon of choice. Such recreational activity led one to postulate that Ebens did not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that should have kept him from associating with baseball for some time to come.

The eerie connection between the killing and baseball went beyond the murder weapon. Ronald Ebens at one point in “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” mused that the incident would not have taken place had he “had an accident” himself or gone to “a ball game.” Ebens and Nitz were clearly equipped for both activities at the baseball diamond and outside Fancy Pants. When the scuffle extended itself to the nude bar's parking lot, Ebens “opened [Nitz's] hatchback and removed a baseball bat” (United States v. Ronald Ebens, 800 F.2d at 1428,[1986]), as if getting ready to


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The Deathly Embrace: Orientalism and Asian American Identity


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