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After AP exams, I try to connect my AP Human Geography students to future social studies classes with an emphasis on political science and human rights. The video The Crime That Fueled an Asian American Civil Rights Movement was a perfect combination of both issues and set us up for deeper conversations on federalism and state law vs. federal law. It also really resonated with my ninth-grade students. I have almost never seen my class as disgusted as they were after watching this video. They have learned about a lot of injustices in the world and at home, but the video was made in such a way that you didn’t have the othering effect.
The video recounts the killing of 27-year-old Vincent Chin, beaten to death with a baseball bat in Detroit in 1982. He was a victim of rising anti-Asian sentiment that became rampant again during the Covid-19 pandemic. Students were able to easily identify and empathize with Vincent and his mom. The interview with the man who killed Chin made my students so outraged that we had to find an article on him to see what he’s doing now. They were so curious.
I think the biggest takeaway for me was that my students were looking for more Asian American stories. We have not made space for these voices in our curriculum, and we, as teachers, have not learned these stories well enough to use them properly. Retro Report has done the work for us. If you haven’t played the Vincent Chin video yet in your class, please do it ASAP. The video is only 10 minutes so you can easily do a primer group discussion on hate crimes as given in the lesson plan, watch the video, and then get into federalism issues. I completed everything in one period.
ASIM GAFFAR, the Social Studies Department Chair and an AP Human Geography teacher at the College Preparatory School of America in Lombard, Ill., is a member of Retro Report’s Council of Educators.
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