USC Grad student murdered – Xinran Ji (An open letter to the Chinese and Asian communities)

Thursday evening, the School of Engineering identified the victim as Xinran Ji. They said he joined the USC school last fall and was “a beloved member of the Viterbi and Trojan family.

Xinran Ji

To the USC, Chinese and Asian Communites

My name is Michael Simpson Jr.  I’m a black man “mixed blood, true enough, but a black man regardless”, and I want to apologize for what happened back in 2012 to USC students, Ming Qu and Ying Wu on behalf of both the American community, and the Black American community.  What those two men that murdered these young adults did was ruthless, and horrible.  And we of the black community are NOT OKAY WITH IT.  We mourn right by your side over the loss of innocent life.  It doesn’t matter that they were Chinese.  It wouldn’t have mattered if they were black or white.  The bottom line is they were young students, just starting life, in love with one another, and their lives were taken away from there without justifiable cause.  It sickens me to my core that the two men responsible for this crime were not sent to China to be dealt with according to CHINA’S LAW.

I think that is something that should be addressed in America.  If an American murders a foreigner, they should be sent to that government to be done with however that government deems fit.  America has to stop looking at itself as the end all be all considering how backwards and immoral we have become as a nation, to a point where instead of fairly reporting on the true story at hand, which was the loss of two young innocent lives, our media decided to play up things that shouldn’t matter, like what kind of car they were driving, or why were they out at 1a.m.?  These questions are not fair questions, because the truth is, it shouldn’t matter.

You shouldn’t have to walk around terrified at night that someone is going to steal your car, or your purse, or your wallet, or even your life.  You shouldn’t have to be afraid to grab a snack in the middle of a late night study session.  These are issues that we ignore in America, and instead we tend to focus on bullshit, like what kind of car they were driving.  This country seems to be more than content with getting viewership and eyeballs on advertisements for nasal spray at the price of true journalistic integrity.  On behalf of those that still believe in the power of the free press to be a machine and genesis for change in the world, I apologize.  Please do not judge America by the disrespectful slandering of the image of these two young minds in exchange for the money our media and news sources made from it.

black people have suffered a great loss as well.  And I don’t mean those two American terrorists that will rightly so be locked away forever.  No, I am talking about the fact that in the black community, just as in the Chinese, and other minority communities of America, we have to work twice, if not three times as hard, because not only do we have to be good enough, we have to excel.  Good enough, simply isn’t good enough, because the stereotypes and prejudices that have been formed against us are constantly causing us to be judged even before we have done anything.  When I walk into a store, it is immediately assumed I may or may not be carrying a weapon, and may or may not be there to buy milk and cookies, and instead am there to rob the cash register and murder the poor guy working and sadly putting his life on the line for a pitiful minimum wage salary “another issue in our country, but we won’t discuss that here”.

When I walk on a playground, it is expected that I am amazing at basketball.  And if I am seen in a swimming pool, it’s a feat beyond science that I know how to swim.  Even now, some people out there are reading this article and thinking to themselves “he is really well spoken…for a black man”.  Ahh yes, for a black man.  I’m not just well spoken, I am well spoken for a black man…meaning, I exceed the limitations of the black community, but am still only average spoken when put next to America’s favorite majority, white people.

I should also take a minute to point out this is more of a generational thing than anything else.  YOUNG white people have just as many struggles as we do.  They may not be the exact same set of struggles, but they have to deal with everyone assuming they are racist, or assuming they have money, or assuming they are educated, or assuming they are privileged, and so on and so forth.  And while I do believe in white privilege, as my friend Suey Park chronicles, that is a different kind of privilege than that of what I am referring to in this particular letter.  My generation is hurting, and we are paying for the racism and prejudices of our forefathers before us.  Some of their ways are still bleeding into our society through the cracks, but we are almost there as a people.  We are almost there.

I say all of this because every time a heinous crime such as this is committed by a black person, it sets back all of the progress most of us are out here trying to make in the fight against ignorance and stupidity, against the stereotypes and racial prejudices formed against us.  And it doesn’t stop there.  Our government sadly doesn’t care about our Chinese community as much as I do, otherwise they would have more to say and do about this type of crime being committed, but I care enough to tell you the truth and the reality of the situation.  USC, University of Southern Califronia, is also known as USC, University of Spoiled Chinese.  It is a common profiling of young Asians in Southern California that you are all spoiled and rich.  And while I don’t think this is a fair assessment because I personally know plenty of Chinese people who worked their butts off to be afforded the opportunity to come to school here and receive the education they chose to receive, the reality remains; Due to these stereotypes of the Asian community, all bad people, white, black, asian, hispanic, etc…will ALL be after you.  But that’s not because of their nationality.  It is because that is what bad people do.

I want to strongly urge and encourage you to not let the years of being taught that black is bad effect your judgement of the black people around you.  Most of us are good, well rounded people.  People just like you, doing our best to get great grades in hopes of attending that dream school of ours someday.  Dreams of being doctors and lawyers and all sorts of things.  But just like in every community, including the asian community, there will always be a small percentage of us that are just bad apples.  Some of us are just not good people, and the truth is, it all comes down to the parenting.  And bad parenting is a symptom of circumstance, and bad circumstance is a symptom of power, and power is a benefit of government and wealth, and government and wealth in America is governed by white people.  At the end of the day, this is a system that was structured in a way that quite simply doesn’t allow for minorities to excel as often or at the rate that whites do.  And this isn’t at the fault of today’s white people.

Our country was stolen from a people that we then committed genocide on.  At which point in time we both bought and sold slaves from Africa and brought them here, and in the meantime the early Chinese of the day were building our railroads for scraps.  Our country was built on thievery, slavery, bloodshed, and power.  Obviously, because of this, we today are fighting to overcome that dark history, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect today’s lifestyle.  It does.  Sadly in a way that causes the obscene percentages of crime in our modern country to appear to be committed by minorities, usually of which sadly are blacks.

I am in no way saying this as an excuse for those crimes.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  I have extremely humble beginnings, and was born into a lower class family, but my parents forced me to be creative.  They forced me to dream.  They forced me to be imaginative, and to believe in myself.  they forced me to not be aware of any boundaries that the system may have put in place for kids like me and as a result, I excelled.  And hell, Asian families have found a way to be prosperous too, at a sometimes overwhelming rate; but sometimes those successes come at the sacrifice of a social skill set, that can inevitably lead to not being aware of the dangers around you, such as was the unfortunate case of the two young adults at the center of this letter.

My ex girlfriend, a Chinese girl, whom is now my best friend, and ironically, also my roommate, is a perfect example of why it’s important to judge an individual versus the entire subgroup someone happens to belong to.  Incidentally, she just received her Masters Degree in Public Relations a month ago from USC.  The two of us have discussed this issue often.  In fact, one day after we broke up and had become friends again, we were out eating on campus at USC, and she said to me as a nice looking black guy walked by with his study books in hand, “You know, before you I never paid attention to black guys, and it wasn’t because they aren’t attractive or anything, it was simply because I literally never paid any attention to them at all.  I never imagined that I would ever date a black guy.  It’s just something you’re grew up never even considering to be an option.  My parents never said I couldn’t date a black guy, but that was clearly because it was never even considered to even be an option.”  To note, I was her first boyfriend ever in her life, and to this day she says she feels like she is one of the luckiest girls alive that she had such an awesome first boyfriend.

I take a certain kind of pride in that.  A pride in knowing that her parents’ perception of black people changed due to spending real quality time with one.  A pride in knowing that her entire perception of black people changed due to love.  Her perception changed so much that when Xinran Ji was murdered yesterday, and she noticed how concerned I looked, she immediately said to me “I really hope whoever did this wasn’t black.  I know how hard you guys work to change the point of view on the world stage.”  It is sad that we even have to worry about things like that.  I am saddened that my first thought was feeling bad for Xinran Ji, and then for his parents, but that those thoughts were cut off in mere seconds with the thought “oh God, I really hope the murderers weren’t black.  Why does this bullshit keep happening?”.  That shouldn’t be my default thought when a young person is murdered for no good reason.  Well my thoughts are with you now Xinran Ji, and friends and family of Xinran Ji.  And my thoughts and prayers are still with you Ming Qu, and Ying Wu, and friends and family of Ming Qu and Ying Wu.  And my thoughts and prayers are with the world because guys, we have got to stop profiling one another with nonsense.  When something horrible like this takes place, it’s not about what nationality or race the killers were, it’s about the fact that someone has died.  A life has ended.  Many more forever altered.  It’s about seeking justice against the individual(s) responsible for said death.  And if anything, these types of incidents need to bring the rest of us closer.  Because that is when we need to be one race, the human race, more than ever.

I know everyone in my country, a country which despite our horribly dark past, I love dearly, is extremely proud to be an American.  But we need to start owning up to these things, and not as Black, or White, or Asian Americans, but as AMERICANS.  Here are the facts; Two years ago in 2012, two young Chinese students, Ming Qu and Ying Wu were brutally murdered by American terrorists Bryan Barnes and Javier Bolden.  You may find yourself asking why I am calling them terrorists.  I am doing so because it is high time that somebody says it.  We are so busy trying to fix the problems in other countries “even if they don’t ask us to”, that we are neglecting to do anything about the weeds growing in our own backyard.  The two men that murdered these kids are terrorists.  And I will no longer refer to killers as murderers, because it is more than that, and should be respected as more than that.  When you kill someone, you are ending a life, you are ending the dreams of a mother, a father, brothers and sisters, friends and family alike.  You are sending a devastating shockwave through the entirety of both the victim and that victim’s circle of friends and family.  It is more than murder.  It is terror.  These two men were terrorists, as is every murderer and rapist in America.  You don’t need a bomb to destroy someone’s reality.

It’s time we stop being okay with the madness.  Words are a good start, but it’s going to take a level of unity not yet seen for us as a global community to fix this kind of problem.  Again, to both the Chinese American, and Chinese communities, as well as the Asian community in general, my heart and my prayers are with you.  I have nothing but love to offer you, and I hope you can see that the people that committed these crimes, are just that; people.  And that they should be judged as individuals, not as the poster children for the race that they were a part of.