Gasping for Air: Letter from Nicole Webb to Vincent Chin
Letter from Nicole Webb (pictured)
June 19, 1982
Dear Vincent Chin,
I don’t know you.
In fact, before this letter, I had never heard of your name.
I didn’t know your story.
To be honest, before this letter I didn’t know that there were races other than mine, fighting for justice against the genocides of their people in this country.
Vincent, I did not know beyond my own ignorance that despite our racial differences,
you and I are more alike than one could imagine—our people much more similar than I would have predicted before.
I’m pretty sure you had every intention of walking down the aisle, watching your soon-to be wife walk toward you. I’m sure she would have been beautiful, and at the end of the aisle you would have stood with your calm smile waiting for her.
But you never made it there.
Instead, your life ended four days after your bachelor party—the night you were beaten unconscious with a baseball bat by two men who’ll never understand what it means to fight for justice in this country.
Just like for you, Vincent, my people are fighting for the justice of innocent lives taken with no explanation and no consequences.
Vincent, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that I thought it was only about me ... only about my people:
Sean Bell, who just like you was killed after his bachelor party. He was shot at 50 times by New York police who believed he had a weapon. He was unarmed.
Our list goes on ... not including the names of my African and Cherokee ancestors who were murdered on this soil, and whose killers were never once reprimanded.
I’m sorry that when I chant, “Black Lives Matter,” I’m not in the moment thinking about how your life mattered, how other men and women of every other race other than America’s standard race—how their lives matter too.
I’m sorry that I didn’t stop to think how my failing to see the justice of the greater human race at large was just as important as the justice I seek for my own.
Vincent, I am sorry.
I am sorry that, on this soil, the words, “liberty and justice for all,” have yet to apply to us.
That when the words, “We the People, in order to form a more perfect union,” are spoken, we are not included nor seen as a part of the people.
That it is they who are the people and because they are, they also define what it means to “form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to [themselves] and [their] posterity.”
Don’t you get it, Vincent?
This country never was and will never be about and for us.
It will never seek the justice we, you, your people, my people deserve for the lives spared.
Our lives come at the cost the ensuring their perfect union ... At the cost of their domestic tranquility, because they see us as a disturbance to what they claim is theirs ...
So they provide for their own common defense, by purging us out and killing us off ...
In order to promote their own general welfare, because they feel threatened by us.
So in order to secure the blessings of their liberty, they will continue to kill us off to avoid their own humiliation and insecurities because they are the ones who find themselves inferior,
And to ensure their prosperity, they will kill off men just like you and mine so their daughters won’t mate with men like ours,
Without ever seeking justice for the murders committed at their hand because they are the people who define and establish justice. Vincent, I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that you’ll never get justice.
That we may never get justice on this side of the soil.
But I vow with my heart,
My civic duty as a member of the human race,
My spirit for humane liberty and justice for every single individual on this earth,
My desire that every story be heard,
My right as a human being ....
To fight for the men and women just like you, whose voices have been silenced at the hand of this unjust system.
I will never stop fighting until the lives of all humanity are found valuable and are seen to matter all over the world.
Your sister in the fight,
Nicole Webb is a contributing Entertainment and Culture
writer for Tha Produce Section and a graduate student at American
University, studying Broadcast Journalism and Public Affairs, with
aspirations of becoming a network television producer. For more
information, visit thenicolewebb.com