Vietnamese American


Vietnamese American

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Vietnamese American


poptime = 1,599,394 0.5% of the US population (2006).cite web
publisher=United States Census Bureau
title=2006 American Community Survey: Selected Population Profile in the United States
url=http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IPTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-qr_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201&-qr_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201PR&-qr_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201T&-qr_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201TPR&-ds_name=ACS_2006_EST_G00_&-reg=ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201:048;ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201PR:048;ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201T:048;ACS_2006_EST_G00_S0201TPR:048&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-format=
]
popplace = Orange County, California, San Jose, California, Houston, Texas, others
langs = Vietnamese, American English
rels = Mainly Mahayana Buddhism with Confucianism (Ancestor Worship), large Christian minority (chiefly Roman Catholic)
related = Vietnamese people, Overseas Vietnamese, Southeast Asian Americans, Asian Americans
A Vietnamese American ( _vi. người Mỹ gốc Việt) is a resident of the United States who is of Vietnamese heritage. They make up about half of all overseas Vietnamese ("Việt Kiều") and are the fourth-largest Asian American group.

Mass Vietnamese immigration to the United States started after 1975, after the end of the Vietnam War. Early immigrants were refugee boat people fleeing persecution by the victorious communists. Forced to flee from their homeland and often thrusted into poor urban neighborhoods, these newcomers have nevertheless managed to establish strong communities in a short amount of time.

Demographics

As a relatively recent immigrant group, most Vietnamese Americans are either first- or second-generation Americans. They have the lowest distribution of people with more than one race among the major Asian American groups. As many as one million people who are five years and older speak Vietnamese at home—making it the seventh-most spoken language in the United States. As refugees, Vietnamese Americans have some of the highest rates of naturalization. In 2000, 44% of foreign-born Vietnamese are American citizens, the highest rate among all Asian groups. [cite web
url=http://www.ailf.org/ipc/refugeestoamericans.asp
author=Alicia J. Campi
title=From Refugees to Americans: Thirty Years of Vietnamese Immigration to the United States
accessdate=2007-03-25
] In the 2006 American Community Survey, 72% of foreign-born Vietnamese are naturalized US citizens; this combined with the 36% who are born in the United States makes 82% of them United States citizen in total. Of those born outside the United States, 46.5% entered before 1990, 38.8% between 1990 and 2000, and 14.6% entered after 2000.

According to the 2000 Census, there are 1,122,528 people who identify themselves as Vietnamese alone or 1,223,736 in combination with other ethnicities, ranking fourth among the Asian American groups. Of those, 447,032 (39.8%) live in California and 134,961 (12.0%) in Texas. The largest number of Vietnamese found outside of Vietnam is found in Orange County, California—totalling 135,548. Vietnamese American businesses are ubiquitous in Little Saigon, located in Westminster and Garden Grove, where they constitute 30.7 and 21.4 percent of the population, respectively. States such as New York, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Illinois, Minnesota, Washington, Florida, Virginia and to some extent, Rhode Island have fast growing Vietnamese populations. The San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle metropolitan area, Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, Washington D.C. area, Los Angeles metropolitan area and the Houston metropolitan area have sizable Vietnamese communities. Recently, the Vietnamese immigration pattern has shifted to other states like Oklahoma (Oklahoma City in particular) and Oregon (Portland in particular).

Vietnamese Americans are much more likely to be Christians than Vietnamese that are residing in Vietnam. While Christians (mainly Roman Catholics) make up about six percent of Vietnam's total population, they compose as much as 23 percent of the total Vietnamese American population. [Bankston, Carl L. III. 2000. "Vietnamese American Catholicism: Transplanted and Flourishing." U.S. Catholic Historian 18 (1): 36-53]

According to the 2006 American Community Survey, the Vietnamese American population had grown to 1,599,394 and remains the second largest Southeast Asian American subgroup following the Filipino American community.

History

The history of Vietnamese Americans is a fairly recent one. Prior to 1975, most Vietnamese residing in the United States were wives and children of American servicemen in Vietnam or academia, and their number was insignificant. According to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization services, only 650 Vietnamese arrived from 1950 to 1974. The Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975—which ended the Vietnam War—prompted the first large-scale wave of immigration from Vietnam. Many people who had close ties with the Americans or with the then Republic of Vietnam government feared promised communist reprisals. So, 125,000 of them left Vietnam during the spring of 1975. This group was generally highly-skilled and educated. They were airlifted by the U.S. government to bases in the Philippines and Guam, and were subsequently transferred to various refugee centers in the United States.

South Vietnamese refugees initially faced resentment by Americans following the turmoil and upheaval of the Vietnam War. A poll taken in 1975 showed only 36 percent of Americans were in favor of Vietnamese immigration. President Gerald Ford and other officials strongly supported Vietnamese immigration to the U.S. and passed the Indochina Migration and Refugee Act in 1975, which allowed Vietnamese refugees to enter the United States under a special status. In order to prevent the refugees from forming ethnic enclaves and to minimize their impact on local communities, they were scattered all over the country. Within a few years, however, many resettled in California and Texas.

The year 1978 began a second wave of Vietnamese refugees that lasted until the mid-1980s. As South Vietnamese people—especially former military officers and government employees—were sent to Communist "reeducation camps," about two million people fled Vietnam in small, unsafe, and crowded boats. These "boat people" were generally lower on the socioeconomic ladder than the people in the first wave. Vietnamese escaping by boat usually ended up in asylum camps in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, or the Philippines—where they might be allowed to enter countries that agreed to accept them.

Congress passed the Refugee Act of 1980, reducing restrictions on entry, while the Vietnamese government established the Orderly Departure Program (ODP) under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in response to world outcry—allowing people to leave Vietnam legally for family reunions and for humanitarian reasons. Additional American laws were passed allowing children of American servicemen and former political prisoners and their families to enter the United States. Another peak of Vietnamese immigrants to the US was in 1992, when many individuals in Vietnam's reeducation camps were released or sponsored by their families to come to the United States. Between 1981 and 2000, the United States accepted 531,310 Vietnamese political refugees and asylees.

Political activism

According to a study by the Manhattan Institute in 2008, Vietnamese Americans are among the most assimilated immigrant groups in the United States.cite web|url=http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_53.htm|author=Jacob L. Vigdor|title=Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States|publisher=Manhattan Institute|month=May | year=2008|accessdate=2008-05-18] While their rates of cultural and economic assimilation were unexceptional compared to other groups (perhaps due to language differences between English and Vietnamese), their rates of civic assimilation was highest among all the large immigrant groups. Vietnamese Americans, being political refugees, view their stay in the United States as permanent and became involved in the political process in higher rates than other groups.

As refugees from a Communist country, many Vietnamese Americans are strongly opposed to communism. In a poll conducted for the "Orange County Register" in 2000, 71% of respondents ranked fighting communism as "top priority" or "very important".cite conference
first = Christian
last = Collet
authorlink =
title = The Determinants of Vietnamese American Political ParticipationFindings from the January 2000 "Orange County Register" Poll
booktitle = 2000 Annual Meeting of the Association of Asian American
pages =
publisher =
date = May 26, 2000
location = Scottsdale, Arizona
url = http://www1.doshisha.ac.jp/~ccollet/AAAS%202000%20(Collet).pdf
doi =
id =
accessdate = |format=PDF
] Vietnamese Americans regularly stage protests against the Vietnamese government, its human rights policy and those whom they perceive to be sympathetic to it.Citation
last = Ong
first = Nhu-Ngoc T.
author-link =
last2 = Meyer
first2 = David S.
author2-link =
title = Protest and Political Incorporation: Vietnamese American Protests, 1975-2001
journal = Center for the Study of Democracy
volume = 04
issue = 08
pages =
date = April 1
year = 2004
url = http://repositories.cdlib.org/csd/04-08/
doi =
id =
] For example, in 1999, protests against a video store owner in Westminster, California, who displayed the Vietnamese communist flag and a picture of Ho Chi Minh peaked when 15,000 people held a vigil in front of the store in one night, causing debates regarding free speech. Membership in the Democratic Party was once considered anathema among Vietnamese Americans because it was seen as less anti-communist than the Republican Party. However, their support for the Republican Party has somewhat eroded in recent years, as the Democratic Party has become seen in a more favorable light by the second generation as well as by newer, poorer refugees. [cite news|url=http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-me-vietdems29feb29,0,772805.story|title=Leaning left in Little Saigon|author=My-Thuan Tran and Christian Berthelsen|publisher=Los Angeles Times|date=2008-02-29|accessdate=2008-03-03] However, the Republican Party still has overwhelming support; in Orange County, Vietnamese Americans registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats at 55% and 22%, respectively [cite web|url=http://www.ocblog.net/ocblog/2007/02/postelection_sp.html/|title=OC Blog: Post-Election Spinning|accessdate=2007-02-09] , while a national survey in 2008 showed that 22% identify with the Democratic Party while 29% identify with the Republican Partycite web|author=Jane Junn, Taeku Lee, S. Karthick Ramakrishnan, Janelle Wong|title=National Asian American Survey: Asian Americans and the 2008 Election|url=http://www.naasurvey.com/assets/NAAS-National-report.pdf|date=2008-10-06|accessdate=2008-10-06] . Exit polls during the 2004 presidential election show that 72% of Vietnamese American voters in the 8 eastern states polled voted for Republican incumbent George W. Bush compared to only 28% who voted for the Democratic challenger John Kerry. [cite news
url=http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/04/26/asian_americans_step_up_to_ballot_box/
title=Asian-Americans step up to ballot box
author= Stephanie Ebbert
date=April 26, 2005
publisher=The Boston Globe
accessdate=2007-05-25
] In a poll conducted prior to the 2008 presidential election, two-thirds of Vietnamese Americans who made up their mind would vote for the Republican candidate John McCain. The Republican Party's particularly strong tradition of Anti-Communism tends to make it more attractive to older Vietnamese Americans and first generation Vietnamese Americans, especially with their arrival to the US during the Reagan Administration.

Recently, Vietnamese Americans have exercised considerable political power in Orange County, Silicon Valley, and other areas. Many have won public offices at the local and statewide levels in California and Texas. One Vietnamese American, Janet Nguyen, serves on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, one is serving as mayor of Rosemead, California and several serve or have served in the city councils of Westminster, Garden Grove, San Jose, [San Jose Councilwoman Madison Nguyen] and places as varied as Clarkston, Georgia. In 2004, Van Tran, a Republican candidate and Hubert Vo, a Democratic candidate, were elected to the state legislatures of California and Texas, respectively. Viet Dinh was the Assistant Attorney General of the United States from 2001 to 2003 who was the chief architect of the USA PATRIOT Act. In 2006, as many as 15 Vietnamese Americans were running for elective office in California alone, [cite news|url=http://news.ncmonline.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=5ea83a9956aa69770843f4e65f153519|title=Big Politics in Little Saigon] a sign of the growing maturity of the community. For federal elective office, at least two candidates have run for a seat in the United States House of Representatives as their party's official candidate. [Tuan Nguyen [http://lcweb2.loc.gov/elect2002/catalog/1783.html] , North Carolina in 2002 and Tan Nguyen [http://65.45.193.26:8026/cms/acct/tan4congress/main/] , California in 2006, both Republicans] In 2006, Hong Tran made what may be the most ambitious campaign yet for a Vietnamese American, running for election to the United States Senate from the state of Washington (she came in a distant second in the Democratic Party primary). [cite news|url=http://www.nwasianweekly.com/20062439/tran20062439.htm|author=Carol Vu|date=23 September, 2006|publisher=Northwest Asian Weekly|title=Hong Tran's historic campaign ends] Some Vietnamese Americans have recently lobbied many city and state governments to make the former South Vietnamese flag instead of the current flag of Vietnam the symbol of Vietnamese in the United States, a move which raised objections from the Vietnamese government. Their efforts resulted in the California and Ohio state governments enacting legislations to adopt that flag in August 2006. From February 2003 to January 2006, in the USA, 9 States, 3 Counties and 76 Cities have adopted Resolutions recognizing the yellow flag as the Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag. [ [http://vcflaguta.com/FlagRecognizing.html Resolution Recognizing: The Yellow Flag With Three Red Stripes as The Official Flag of the Vietnamese American] ]

During the months following Hurricane Katrina, the Vietnamese American community in New Orleans, among the first to return to the city, rallied against a landfill used to dump debris near their community. [cite news|url=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/08/us/08landfill.html|title=A New Landfill in New Orleans Sets Off a Battle|author=Leslie Eaton|date=2006-05-06|accessdate=2008-09-02|publisher=The New York Times] After months of legal wrangling, the landfill was closed, which the activists consider a victory. [cite web|url=http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/rough/2008/08/a_village_calle.html|title=New Orleans: A Village Called Versailles: After tragedy, a community finds its political voice|publisher=Public Broadcasting Service|date=2008-08-28|author=S. Leo Chiang|accessdate=2008-09-02]

Economics

Vietnamese Americans income and social class levels are quite diverse. Many Vietnamese Americans are middle class professionals who fled from the increasing power of the Communist Party after the Vietnam War, while others work primarily in blue-collar jobs. In San Jose, California, for example, this diversity in income levels can be seen in the different Vietnamese American neighborhoods scattered across Santa Clara County. In the Downtown San Jose area, many Vietnamese are working-class and are employed in many blue-collar positions such as restaurant cooks, repairmen, and movers, while the Evergreen and Berryessa sections of the city are middle- to upper–middle class neighborhoods with large Vietnamese American populations—many of whom work in Silicon Valley's computer, networking, and aerospace industries. In Little Saigon of Orange County, there are significant socioeconomic disparities between the established and successful Vietnamese Americans who arrived in the first wave and the later arrivals of low-income refugees.

Vietnamese Americans have come to America primary as refugees, with little or no money. While (on a collective basis) not as academically or financially accomplished as their East Asian counterparts, (who generally have been in the US longer, and did not come as war or political refugees but for economic reasons), census shows that Vietnamese Americans are an upwardly mobile group. Although clear challenges remain for the community, their economic status improved dramatically between 1989 and 1999. In 1989, 34 percent of Vietnamese Americans lived under the poverty line, but this number was reduced to 16 percent in 1999, compared with just over 12 percent of the U.S. population overall.

Many Vietnamese Americans have established businesses in Little Saigons and Chinatowns throughout North America. Indeed, some Vietnamese immigrants, have been highly instrumental in intiating the development and redevelopment of once declining older Chinatowns, as they tend to find themselves attracted to such areas. Like many other immigrant groups, the majority of Vietnamese Americans are small business owners. Throughout the United States, many Vietnamese—especially first or second-generation immigrants—open supermarkets, restaurants (serving either ethnic Vietnamese cuisine, Vietnamized Chinese cuisine, or both; hence, phở and chả giò has since become popular Vietnamese food in the United States), bánh mì restaurants, beauty salons and barber shops, and auto repair businesses.

The younger generations of the Vietnamese-American population are well educated and often find themselves providing professional services. As the older generation tend to find difficulty in interacting with the non-Vietnamese professional class, there are many Vietnamese-Americans that provide specialized professional services to fellow Vietnamese immigrants. Of these, a small number are owned by Vietnamese Americans of Hoa ethnicity. In the Gulf Coast region—such as Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama—some Vietnamese Americans are involved with the fish and shrimp industries. In California's Silicon Valley, many work in the valley's computer and networking businesses and industries, although many were laid off in the aftermath of the closure of many high-technology companies.

Many Vietnamese parents pressure their children to excel in school and to enter professional fields such as science, medicine, or engineering because the parents feel insecurity stemming from their chaotic past and view education as the only ticket to a better life. Another factor contributing to the fact that some Vietnamese do well, is that Vietnam is a Confucianist society, which values education and learning. Many have worked their way up from menial labor to have their second-generation children attend universities and become successful.

Recent immigrants who do not speak English well tend to work in menial labor jobs like assembly, restaurant/shop workers, nail and hair salons. A high percentage (about 37 percent nationwide and 80 percent in California according to "Nguoi Viet Daily" newspaper) of nail salons are owned and operated by Vietnamese Americans. The work involved in nail salons takes skilled manual labor, but requires only limited English speaking ability. Some Vietnamese Americans see working in nail salons as a fast way to build wealth, many Vietnamese will send earnings back to Vietnam to help family members abroad. This concept and economic niche has proven so successful that visiting overseas Vietnamese entrepreneurs from Britain have also adopted the Vietnamese American model and opened several nail salons in the United Kingdom as well, where few previously existed.

In the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Vietnamese Americans have accounted for between 45-85% of the shrimping business in the region. The dumping of imported shrimp (ironically from Vietnam), however, have affected their source of livelihood. [http://www.ailf.org/ipc/refugeestoamericans.asp]

ocietal perception and portrayal

As with other ethnic minority groups in United States, Vietnamese Americans have come into conflict with the larger U.S. population, particularly in how they are perceived and portrayed. There have been degrees of hostility directed toward Vietnamese Americans. For example, in the U.S. Gulf Coast, the white fishermen complained of unfair competition from their Vietnamese American counterparts resulting in hostility. In the 1980s, the Ku Klux Klan attempted to intimidate Vietnamese American shrimpers. [http://news.asianweek.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=8f3bffe189a164998e5b57555b450aca] Vietnamese American fishermen banded together to form the first Vietnamese Fishermen Association of America to represent their interests.

Some low-income African Americans have made complaints that Vietnamese refugees receive more government assistance than they ever have.

Gang activities have become a concern among the Vietnamese American population and law enforcement. For example, in 1992 in Sacramento, a major robbery and shoot-out occurred at an electronic retailer between Vietnamese American gangs and the local police. Another example is when Vietnamese American gangs commit violent home invasion robberies toward wealthy Vietnamese American families. Some cafes in Little Saigon of Orange County have been rumored to be fronts for gang activity.

While gangs have become part of the reality and societal perception of Vietnamese Americans, a contrary perception of young Vietnamese Americans as high achievers has also become common. This has resulted in a valedictorian or delinquency myth. Some studies, [http://www.russellsage.org/publications/books/0-87154-994-8] show that there is a real world basis to the "valedictorian-delinquent" perception of Vietnamese American youth. Based on field work in a Vietnamese American community, social scientists argue that Vietnamese American communities often have dense, well-organized sets of social ties that provide encouragement to and social control of children. At the same time, these communities are often located in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods at the margins of American society. Vietnamese children who maintain close connections to their own communities are often driven to succeed, while those who are outsiders to their own society often assimilate into some of the most alienated youth cultures of American society and fall into delinquency. [http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_asian_american_studies/v002/2.1br_zhou.html]

Ethnic subgroups

While the census data only count those who report themselves to be ethnically Vietnamese, the way some other ethnic groups from Vietnam view themselves may affect census reporting.

Hoa

A fraction of Vietnamese Americans consists of Hoa people who immigrated to Vietnam during the last few centuries. As a result, some Vietnamese Americans also speak fluent Cantonese (although with Vietnamese influence, "Vietnamese" Cantonese differs substantially from Cantonese spoken by immigrants hailing from Guangdong, China and in Hong Kong). Vietnamese Americans of Hoa ethnicity generally code-switch between Cantonese and Vietnamese when conversing with Hoa immigrants from Vietnam. Teochew, a comparatively obscure language somewhat unheard of in the United States before its arrival in the 1980s, is also commonly spoken by another group of Hoa immigrants, but is not used in general discourse. A small number of Vietnamese Americans may also speak Mandarin as a third or fourth language, in some aspects of business and interaction.

However, due to possession of Vietnamese surnames and affinity for Vietnamese culture, Hoa people are often considered to be ethnic Vietnamese. Indeed Hoa Americans often do not classify themselves as Chinese American, nor are they seen as such. Paradoxically, however, some Hoa Americans may consider themselves more Chinese than Vietnamese which may affect census reporting.

The population distribution of Hoa people in the United States varies. For instance, many Hoa immigrants tend to reside in communities where there is a concentration of ethnic Vietnamese (such as in "Little Saigon" in Orange County, California or San Jose), while others have chosen to intermingle and concentrate with Chinese diasporas (namely with emigres from Mainland China and Hong Kong) as in San Francisco, Monterey Park, California or New York City, due to supposed comparatively great prospects of opportunities with the latter.

Eurasians and Amerasians

Some Vietnamese Americans are racially Eurasians—persons of European and Asian descent. These Eurasians are descendants of ethnic Vietnamese and French settlers and soldiers and sometimes Hoa during the French colonial period (1883-1945) or during the First Indochina War (1946-1954).

Amerasians are descendants of an ethnic Vietnamese parent or a Hoa parent and an American parent, most frequently of White, Black or Hispanic background. The first substantial generation of Amerasian Vietnamese Americans were born to American personnel (primarily military men) during the Vietnam War (1961-1975). Many such children were disclaimed by their American parent and, in Vietnam, these fatherless children of foreign men were called "con lai", meaning "mixed child", or the pejorative "bụi đời", meaning "the dust of life." [http://www.salon.com/11/sneakpeeks/sneakpeeks6.html] Many of these initial generation of Amerasians, as well as their mothers, experienced significant social and institutional discrimination both in Vietnam—where they were subject to denial of basic civil rights like an education, the discrimination worsening following the American withdrawal in 1973—as well as by the United States government, which officially discouraged American military personnel from marrying Vietnamese nationals, and frequently refused claims to US citizenship lodged by Amerasians born in Vietnam whose mothers were not married to their American fathers. [ [http://www.amerasianusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=29 AmerasianUSA - Amerasian Citizenship Initiative - Issue Background ] ] [ [http://www.amerasianfoundation.org/amerasianlaws.php "U.S. Legislation Regarding Amerasians". Amerasian Foundation; website retrieved January 3, 2007.] ] [ [http://www.house.gov/lofgren/news/2003/pr_031022_Amerasian.html "Lofgren Introduces Citizenship Bill for Children Born in Vietnam to American Servicemen and Vietnamese Women During the Vietnam War". Whitehouse.gov; October 22, 2003.] ] Such discrimination was typically even greater for children of Black or Hispanic servicemen than for children of White fathers. [ [http://www-mcnair.berkeley.edu/99McNairJournal/yoon/yoon.pdf Yoon, Diana H. "The American Response to Amerasian Identity and Rights". Berkeley McNair Research Journal; Winter, 1999 (vol. 7); pp. 71—84.] ]

Subsequent generations of Amerasians (particularly children born in the United States), as well those Vietnamese-born Amerasians whose American paternity was documented by their parents' marriage prior to birth or by subsequent legitimization, have generally faced a much different, arguably more favorable, outlook. [ [http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~thantran/Amerasian.html "Vietnamese-Amerasians: Where Do They Belong?" Thanh Tran; December 16, 1999.] ]

The American Homecoming Act, passed in 1988, helped over 25,000 Amerasians remaining in Southeast Asia to emigrate to the United States. Nonetheless, although granted permanent resident status, many have yet been unable to obtain citizenship; and many have expressed feeling a lack of belonging or acceptance in the U.S., because of differences in culture, language, and citizenship status. [ [http://web.syr.edu/~kjhall/ETS192/ab/ab.htm] [http://www.amerasianusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=29] ] The Amerasian Naturalization Act of 2005 would have granted automatic citizenship to many of these Amerasians, but the bill died in committee without being passed.

Ethnic Khmer and Cham

Some ethnic Khmer and Cham refugees who were born in Vietnam can also be included in the category of Vietnamese Americans.

Writing and publishing

Both Vietnamese writers in Vietnam and Vietnamese-American writers have a unique set of challenges they encounter when trying to step out of the shadows of writing and publishing. In Vietnam, few literary writers are endorsed by the state and respected by their literary peers; for artists of all types, particularly literature, Vietnam has a climate of repression and harassment. Writers must find ways to get around these barriers and sometimes when they do, they are severely reprimanded or - more infrequently - jailed for their writing. In the United States, a new generation, often referred to as the "1.5 generation" (those born in Vietnam, but who came to the United States at an early age), of Vietnamese-American writers are figuring out how to portray themselves outside of the experiences of the Vietnam War and "fall of Saigon". Many Vietnamese-American writers are for the first time, stepping away from the topic of war and displacement, to the far more urgent subject of identity, or what it means to have a divided cultural identity.

The Vietnamese-American writing and publishing scene has been steadily growing since the mid/late-1990s and shows no signs of slowing down. In 1997, Lan Cao’s Monkey Bridge - considered the first novel written by a Vietnamese-American about the immigrant experience - was published by Viking Press and received rave views for lyrical writing from major newspapers, such as the NY Times, the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune and others. In the semi-autobiographical novel, a young girl and her mother leave Vietnam after the war, bound for America, and once settled in, have to deal with issues that typify the immigrant experience. Many similarly themed novels and memoirs have followed as the 1.5 generation has come of age and begun to articulate their identity as both Vietnamese and American, a (sometimes successful) fusion of Eastern traditions in a Western society, and the confusion that resulted from growing up Vietnamese in American culture.

In the United States, Vietnamese-American writers have the freedom to explore both negative and positive aspects of their cultural and societal experiences. Only recently, though, has the 1.5 generation, who has the advantage of being raised with the English language, really starting to develop a literary scene and any type of movement. The first generation Vietnamese-Americans had the disadvantages of not knowing English and needing to find work to support themselves and/or their families. Not only do Vietnamese-Americans have the freedom to explore these issues, but people in American society are increasingly interested in those issues as well, as evidenced by the success of Monique Truong’s novel Book of Salt.

Other recent notables books include Quang X. Pham's acclaimed father-son memoir "A Sense of Duty," Andrew Lam's PEN Award-winning "Perfume Dreams", Andrew Pham's Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize winner "Catfish and Mandala", and Aimee Phan's debut collection of short stories "We Should Never Meet."

If the literary scene in the United States has been a bit fragmented, there seems to be signs of it unifying and strengthening as more novels, short stories, and poetry are published every year. And Vietnamese-Americans are being recognized, apart from ethnicity, for solid literary writing that depicts the outsider experience, allowing people of all ages, ethnicities, and other cultural divides, to connect with one another and with the written word.

References

ee also

* Asian American
* Boat people
* Diaspora studies
* Hyphenated American
* List of U.S. cities with large Vietnamese American populations
* List of Vietnamese Americans
* Little Saigon
* Overseas Vietnamese
* Refugees
* Vietnamese people

External links

* [http://www.tolerance.org/teach/web/vietnamese/ Teaching Tolerance - Vietnamese Americans]
* [http://www.searac.org/seastatprofilemay04.pdf Census Data]
* [http://www.vatv.org/VAP.html Vietnamese American population by city]
* [http://repositories.cdlib.org/csd/04-08/ Vietnamese-American Protests from 1975-2001] by Nhu-Ngoc T. Ong and David S. Meyer
* [http://www.vietam.org/ Vietnamese American Heritage Project] at the Smithsonian Institution
* [http://www.asian-nation.org/vietnamese-community.shtml Asian-Nation: Vietnamese American Community] by C.N. Le, Ph.D.
* [http://www.lib.uci.edu/libraries/collections/sea/seaexhibit/vietnamam.html Southeast Asian Archive]
* [http://www.vstudies.org Vietnamese Studies Internet Resource Center]
* [http://www.ocregister.com/news/2005/saigon/index.shtml 30 years after the fall of Saigon] : from "The Orange County Register"
* [http://www.tolerance.org/teach/web/vietnamese/vac_pdfs/vac_timeline_02.pdf Vietnamese American history]
* [http://www.tolerance.org/teach/web/vietnamese/vac_pdfs/vac_brief_history.pdf The Experience of Vietnamese Refugee Children in the United States]
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/4469739.stm Vietnamese who found new lives] : from the BBC
* [http://www.viet-nam.org/ Vietnamese American Council]
* [http://www.ncvaonline.org/index.html National Congress of Vietnamese Americans]
* [http://ccet.louisiana.edu/03a_Cultural_Tourism_Files/01.02_The_People/Vietnamese.html The Vietnamese Population in Louisiana]
* [http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTTable?_bm=y&-context=dt&-ds_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U&-CONTEXT=dt&-mt_name=DEC_2000_SF3_U_PCT019&-tree_id=403&-redoLog=true&-all_geo_types=N&-geo_id=01000US&-search_results=01000US&-format=&-_lang=en US Census 2000 foreign born population by country]
* [http://www.ericdigests.org/2000-4/student.htm The Biculturation of the Vietnamese Student] by Min Zhou and Carl L. Bankston III
* [http://www.hmongstudies.org/VietnameseFamilies.html Vietnamese Families, Family Life, and Gender Roles]
* [http://www.achievementseminars.com/Seminar_Series_2005_2006/readings/Zhou_Bankston_Delinquency_and_Acculturation_2004.pdf Delinquency and Acculturation in a Vietnamese Community]
* [http://eapi.admu.edu.ph/eapr002/dragon.htm The Dragon and the Eagle: Toward a Vietnamese American Theology] , Originally published in Theology Digest 43:3 (Fall 2001).


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