Please Take Off Your Shoes
In 2012, I found out that my mom was engaged to another man before she married my dad. His name was Vincent Chin, the subject of a hate crime that instigated the Asian American civil rights movement in 1982. "Please Take off Your Shoes" takes place in the setting of his life and murder, my hometown of metro-Detroit, as I face what he left behind. In response to Detroit’s disintegrating infrastructure, various Asian diasporas have scattered across the suburbs. What survived are the artifacts, signifiers and gestures of a shared racial-cultural identity within the American suburban interior.
Jarod Lew is a Chinese American photographer based in Metro Detroit, Michigan. His work explores themes of identity, community and displacement. In 2012, Lew discovered that his mother was the fiancé of Vincent Chin who was murdered by two autoworkers in Highland Park, Michigan. Since this discovery, he has focused his attention on his identity and trying to understand Asian-ness within America.
The story of Vincent Chin—the victim of a hate crime in Metro Detroit in 1982—and his personal connection to the photographer Jarod LEW serve as the inspiration for this thought-provoking series of portraits featuring Asian Americans who reside in Lew’s native Michigan. At a moment when anti-Asian violence is on the rise, Lew’s invitation to look closely at the Asian American community feels all the more urgent.