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更新时间:2017-8-13 9:38:13 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

What a Fraternity Hazing Death Revealed About the Painful Search for an Asian-American Identity

The second court date for the brothers of Pi Delta Psi was held in late November 2015, in the big courthouse in Stroudsburg, a 25-­minute drive from Pocono Pines. Kwan, Lam and Wong all wore what looked like the same suits they wore one month before and came accompanied by the same fidgeting chorus of lawyers. Charles Lai showed up a little bit later in prison grays and handcuffs: His family had not been able to come up with bail. He nodded almost officiously at his brothers, as if to apologize, but spent the first part of the proceedings staring intently at a far wall. A police officer testified about the cover-­up, the lawyers filed some motions and then the prosecutor’s office called Daniel Li, now the former president of Pi Delta Psi at Baruch, to the stand. Over the course of a halting, agonizing hour of testimony, Li said he had seen Lam, Lai and Kwan tackle Deng in succession, leaving him unconscious after the last hit. While everyone was trying to figure out what to do, Li said, he had gone to sleep and missed the entire cover-­up.

2015年11月末,派-德尔塔-普赛(Pi Delta Psi)兄弟会成员的第二个开庭日在距孛可诺松林区(Pocono Pines)25分钟车程的斯特劳兹堡(Stroudsburg)举行。关、林、王三人都穿着似乎是一个月前穿的西装,陪伴他们的是同样坐立不安的律师团队。不久后,穿着监狱灰色衣服、戴着手铐的查尔斯·黎(Charles Lai)出现了:他的家人没能成功将他保释。他几乎有些过分殷勤地对兄弟们点了点头,似乎是想表示歉意,但他在诉讼过程的开始一直都只是专心地盯着远处的墙。一名警官对他们掩盖证据的罪行作证,律师团队提交了几项动议,随后检察官办公室让现已是派-德尔塔-普赛前任主席的丹尼尔·李(Daniel Li)起立。在一小时结结巴巴、磨人的证词中,李说他看到了林、黎、关三人相继抱住并摔倒了邓,使他在最后一击之后陷入了昏迷。当所有人都在苦思冥想该做什么的时候,李说,他已经睡下了,错过了整个掩盖证据的过程。

As Li testified, the four remaining brothers slumped in their chairs and stared at their hands. There were none of the courthouse theatrics that they must have seen in Mafia movies when a rat takes the stand; no one glared at Li or whispered angrily to their lawyers. Instead, an awkward hush fell over the courtroom, in part because Li couldn’t make it through an answer without being reprompted by the prosecutor, but also because the lie of solidarity was being unraveled and laid out in front of the young men who had been stupid enough to believe in it. For Li’s cooperation in the case against his four brothers, the State of Pennsylvania reduced the charges against him — they no longer include murder — and delayed his court proceedings.


On a Sunday morning in May 2016, I received a text message from a Korean rapper friend named Rekstizzy. Rek, as he’s better known, grew up in Queens and, like Michael Deng, graduated from Bronx Science. Today Rek lives in Los Angeles and runs a campaign to reclaim the cartoon frog known as Pepe from the so-­called alt-right. But back when he first reached out to me in 2012, during the height of Jeremy Lin’s brief magical run with the New York Knicks, he was all about representing Asian Queens. This included a cultural blog for Asian-­American men called Gumship and a YouTube series in which Rek tried to introduce stoic men to the joys of cute products like Hello Kitty. Rek, who considered joining Pi Delta Psi when he attended Binghamton, told me in his text that he was partying in Las Vegas with some ‘‘random frat dudes.’’ One of them had confided to him about the murder charges against him and how helpless and lost he felt. It was Kenny Kwan, the Pi Delta Psi brother who had wept in the courthouse.

2016年5月的一个周日造成,一名叫Rekstizzy的韩国说唱歌手朋友给我发了一则短信。Rek是他更为人知的名字,他在皇后区长大。和邓俊贤一样,他也是从布朗克斯科学高中(Bronx Science)毕业。现在Rek住在洛杉矶,运作着一个旨在从所谓的另类右派手中夺回名为佩佩(Pepe)的卡通青蛙的运动。但他最初是在2012年联系我的,当时还是林书豪(Jeremy Lin)在纽约尼克斯队(New York Knicks)短暂的神奇巅峰时期,他已经是皇后区亚洲人的代表了。这包括了一个亚洲人的文化博客——美国人将其称为Gumship,还有一系列YouTube视频,Rek在其中向禁欲的男性介绍像Hello Kitty一样可爱的产品可带来的乐趣。Rek在宾汉顿大学(Binghamton)上学期间,曾考虑过加入派-德尔塔-普赛,他在短信中告诉我说他当时正在拉斯维加斯跟几个“兄弟会的兄弟”参加派对。其中一人向他透露说他被控谋杀,他感到非常彷徨无助。这个人正是肯尼·关(Kenny Kwan),他就是在法庭掉下眼泪的派-德尔塔-普赛成员。

A few days later, Kwan called me at home in Brooklyn. He said he had heard that an Asian writer was going to write about the case from an Asian perspective. I told him that I was, indeed, an Asian writer. He paused and asked if I knew someone who could help him get his story out in a way that wasn’t biased against Asians. I told him that I’d be happy to talk to him, but I wanted to be clear: I wasn’t working on an article whose aim was to exonerate him and his brothers, and he should talk to his lawyer before calling me back. Over the past year, I’ve found myself wondering what exactly Kwan might have meant by an ‘‘Asian perspective.’’ Was he asking for fairness or was he asking me to choose sides?


Kwan never called back, but he wasn’t the only Baruch brother who wondered if there might be some value in talking to me. Months before, I met Sheldon Wong at his lawyer’s office in Lower Manhattan. Wong is tall and handsome, with sharp cheekbones and a puckered mouth that twitches when he’s anxious. At the arraignment in the Poconos, Wong stared at a spot on the carpet as his fraternity brothers squirmed and slouched and tried to screw on brave faces. During our meeting, Wong switched between what looked like nerves and a quiet earnestness. In those more candid moments, I could see why he had taken on the role of pledge educator — why, he said, his mother had encouraged him to seek a career as a psychologist.

关并没有给我回电,但他并不是唯一一名想着与我交谈是否会有价值的巴鲁克学院的兄弟。几个月前,我在下曼哈顿区谢尔顿·王(Sheldon Wong)律师的办公室会见了他。王又高又帅,颧骨突出,当他感到不安的时候,他翘起的嘴会抽搐。在孛可诺传讯期间,当王的兄弟们扭动、耷拉着头,尝试盯着勇敢的面孔的时候,王则一直盯着地毯上的一处。在和王会面的时候,王一直在似乎是紧张和安静的诚挚之间切换。在那些更真诚的时刻,我可以看到为什么他可以担当宣誓教员的原因——原因就是,他说,他妈妈一直鼓励他以心理学家作职业。

His life, at least on the surface, wasn’t much different from Michael Deng’s. He was born in Flushing but spent his early childhood in a predominantly Italian-­American neighborhood in Jamaica, Queens. His mother, who immigrated from Hong Kong to New York as a teenager, left his father, a construction worker, when Wong was 5 and moved the two of them to Flushing, where she worked as a waitress. ‘‘When I was in Jamaica, most of my friends were the Italian kids in the neighborhood,’’ Wong said. ‘‘When we moved to Flushing, there weren’t as many Asian kids as there are now. I was still one of the only ones. Most of my friends were black or Hispanic — I just hung out with whoever I was around at the time.’’


Wong attended Middle School 185 in Bayside, just a few miles from Deng’s childhood home. ‘‘The Asian kids hung out with each other,’’ Wong said. ‘‘The cliques went by race and extracurricular activities — sports, clubs, whatever. As the years went by, I noticed it was harder for kids to branch out and talk to people outside their race.’’ He continued in a careful, almost scholarly way: ‘‘I know New York is supposed to be this melting pot, but if you’re from Queens, it’s more like a bubble. The people you meet are pretty similar to yourself.’’


In the spring of his freshman year at Baruch, Wong was approached by a ‘‘neophyte’’ (the word for a newly anointed brother) in Pi Delta Psi. Given Baruch’s commuter-­student culture, where most students socialized with their friends from city high schools, Pi Delta Psi’s recruitment strategy was to approach all eligible males, even some non-­Asians, and ask them to join. Wong went to a meeting, got along with a few of the guys there and decided to give the fraternity a shot.


Until he pledged Pi Delta Psi, Wong said, he did not know how badly his people had suffered. He did not know about the death of Vincent Chin. He did not know about Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 Supreme Court case that upheld Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order to send Japanese-­Americans to internment camps. As he immersed himself in Pi Delta Psi’s misshapen yet still revelatory history of Asian-­American oppression, he grew increasingly frustrated with the gaps in his New York City public-­school education. Wong said the omissions were unfair. ‘‘I didn’t understand why we wouldn’t focus on a certain ethnic group or why we would ignore it,’’ Wong said. ‘‘Sometimes, it felt like things that happened to Asians were less important.’’

直到他向派-德尔塔-普赛宣誓加入,王说,他都不知道自己的种族过去受过什么样的苦难。他不知道陈果仁(Vincent Chin)之死,也不知道松丰三郎诉美国政府案(Korematsu v. United States),1944年美国最高法院坚持罗斯福(Franklin D. Roosevelt)总统的行政命令,将日裔美国人关进集中营。随着他沉浸在从兄弟会了解到的扭曲但仍具启示性的亚裔美国人被迫害史,他越来越对自己接受的纽约公立学校教育中的空白感到沮丧。王说,这些遗漏是不公平的。“我不明白为什么我们不关注一个种族,或者为什么我们要忽视某个种族,”王说。“有时候,感觉就像发生在亚裔身上的事情不那么重要一样。”

The new education changed him; the silence that separates so many immigrant children from their parents began to close. For the first time in his life, Wong talked to his mother about her early days in the United States, the fear she had felt in a country where she did not speak the language, the small yet persistent flare-­ups in which she could feel both her invisibility and her irrelevance in a country dominated by whites. He said he never felt closer to his mother than in those early days of his awakening. ‘‘You know how it is with Asian parents,’’ Wong said. ‘‘If you don’t ask them about their lives, you won’t find out.’’ He started to feel as if he were part of something. Wong was offered a ‘‘bid’’ and began Pi Delta Psi’s pledging process, where he learned more about the oppression of Asian-­Americans, the same lessons he would teach Michael Deng a couple of years later.


 On May 15, three and a half years after Michael Deng’s death, Kwan, Lai, Lam and Wong again filed into the Stroudsburg courtroom, where dark oil paintings of dead men hung on the walls, framed by dusty red drapes. Just two weeks before, eight brothers who belonged to Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity were charged with manslaughter in yet another hazing death, this one involving an 18-year-old pledge named Timothy Piazza. The similarities between the two cases — Piazza, like Deng, died after going through something called ‘‘the gauntlet’’ (though physical abuse was not part of the ritual) — brought out more reporters than might have been expected, and as they set up in the hallways of the courthouse, many of the questions were about Penn State.

5月15日,邓俊贤死后三年半,肯尼·关、查尔斯·黎、谢尔顿·王和雷蒙德·林再次鱼贯走入斯特劳茨伯格法庭。法庭的墙上,暗色调的油画配着落了尘土的红色帷幔,画中是些已经作古的男人。那之前两周,宾夕法尼亚州大学Beta Theta Pi兄弟会的八名成员在另一桩虐死案中被控杀人罪。案件牵涉一个名叫蒂莫西·皮亚萨的18岁新成员。两案颇有相似处:皮亚萨也像邓俊贤一样,经历了一种被称作“铁手套”的仪式之后死亡(但该仪式不包括肉体虐待)。这种相似性让赶来报道的媒体格外多。记者们在法庭外走廊上做准备的时候,很多人的问题都和宾州大学有关。

Kimberly A. Metzger, an assistant district attorney, sat at the table reserved for the state. She leaned back in her chair, staring out at the gathering gallery. The families squirmed, and their narrow, wooden seats creaked, but there were none of the consoling or furtive glances among the defendants that there had been on earlier court dates. They did not look at one another as Metzger briefly summarized the roles they had played in Michael Deng’s death — the tackles, the text messages, the delays in seeking medical help, the scramble to dispose evidence that would tie them to Pi Delta Psi. When the judge asked if they were aware of what their pleas meant, they said ‘‘yes’’ in meek unison.


The Pi Delta Psi brothers pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and hindering apprehension. (About 30 members of Pi Delta Psi, including Andy Meng and Revel Deng, are still facing lesser charges connected to Michael Deng’s death. The fraternity itself has also been charged with third-­degree murder and other crimes. And the Dengs have filed a civil suit against the defendants.) Lai, Wong, Lam and Kwan will not be sentenced until the end of this year. According to Pennsylvania guidelines, the recommended sentence for these charges for a defendant with no criminal record is 22 to 33 months.


Asians are the loneliest Americans. The collective political consciousness of the ’80s has been replaced by the quiet, unaddressed isolation that comes with knowing that you can be born in this country, excel in its schools and find a comfortable place in its economy and still feel no stake in the national conversation. The current vision of solidarity among Asian-­Americans is cartoonish and blurry and relegated to conversations at family picnics, in drunken exchanges over food that reminds everyone at the table of how their mom used to make it. Everything else is the confusion of never knowing what side to choose because choosing our own side has so rarely been an option. Asian pride is a laughable concept to most Americans. Racist incidents pass without prompting any real outcry, and claims of racism are quickly dismissed. A common past can be accessed only through dusty, dug-up things: the murder of Vincent Chin, Korematsu v. United States, the Bataan Death March and the illusion that we are going through all these things together. The Asian-­American fraternity is not much more than a clumsy step toward finding an identity in a country where there are no more reference points for how we should act, how we should think about ourselves. But in its honest confrontation with being Asian and its refusal to fall into familiar silence, it can also be seen as a statement of self-­worth. These young men, in their doomed way, were trying to amend the American dream that had brought their parents to this country with one caveat:


 I will succeed, they say. But not without my brothers!


 Michael Deng’s family still lives in the sparsely furnished two-­story home in Queens where he spent most of his life. Inside, the only concessions to decoration are a glass cabinet and, on the mantel, a forest of Michael’s trophies. As I spoke with his mother — we sat on leather couches that had been meticulously cleaned and bore none of the markings of children in the house — Michael’s father, his thinning hair dyed and slicked back, his hands resting anxiously on his knees, sat nearby. Whenever she started talking about anything other than her son’s early years, she switched from Mandarin to English, a language Michael’s father had not yet learned. She was heeding his doctor’s orders: He had recently had heart surgery and had been advised to stay away from any sort of anxiety-­inducing activity, including conversations about his dead son.


Michael’s mother took me upstairs to what had been his part of the house: a bedroom with the blinds drawn and a study room with an ornate dark wooden desk that looked as though it had been salvaged from a TV lawyer’s office. She said she hadn’t touched the rooms since Michael left for Baruch. SAT prep books and a handful of composition notebooks lined the bookshelves in which Michael, in neat, rounded handwriting that slanted a bit to the left, had written out his thoughts on the Ace style of handball, breakdowns of New York City’s Specialized High Schools and his observations about the world around him. In October 2008, when he was in eighth grade, he wrote, ‘‘Wearing a winter coat, going to Alley Pond Park, getting under a tree (to hide from the snow) and watch the snow fall down to the trees and ground is my favorite way to pass time in winter.’’

邓俊贤的母亲带我上楼去他的房间:一间卧室,窗帘拉着;一间书房,有一张精美的深色木质书桌,仿佛是从某个电视剧中律师的办公室里淘回来的。她说,自从邓俊贤去巴鲁克,她就没动过这两个房间。书架上摆放着SAT备考书和几本作文本。在本子上,他用工整圆润而稍向左倾斜的字体,描述着他对Ace手球的看法、纽约市特殊高中的细分情况,还有他对自己周围世界的种种观察。2008年10月,他上八年级时,邓俊贤这样写道:“穿一件大衣,去Alley Pond Park,跑到一棵树下(为了躲雪),看着雪花飘落到树上和地上,我最喜欢这样打发冬日的时光。”

His mother told me about the night she spent at the hospital in the Poconos. Her son was already past saving, but she decided to keep him breathing so that his father would have time to arrive from China. That night, she stayed by Michael’s bedside and stuck acupuncture needles in his arm in a desperate attempt to save her son. ‘‘You don’t believe that this could happen to such a big healthy, happy boy,’’ she told me. ‘‘I learned acupuncture back in China, and I thought maybe it will help his comeback. The doctors knew he was already gone, so they let me do it, because they wanted me to have that moment of hope that I could bring him back.’’