I consider myself a Vietnamese American woman. On the street, a random passerby would categorize me as an Asian girl. To the savvy person who can differentiate the many different Asian ethnicities, might be able to pin point what "type of Asian" I am. However, they would confuse me as Filipino or Cambodian due to my dark skin. To the sheltered passerby that is not usually around Asian people, they would assume that I am Chinese (since all Asians are automatically Chinese). Overall, people would assume that I am Asian, but do I seem "American"? I was born in
Although, I am dressed like the usual 20-something on the street, I still get those questions that still follow me throughout my walks of life. "Are you from here? Where were you born? And where are you really from? How about your parents?" I give the benefit of the doubt that this person is not intentionally trying to insult or mock me, but as years gone by, I just wonder when people will just get a clue. Following those questions and after the person has felt that they have just "figured" me out, I am then bombarded with lame questions that forces me into a conversation. "So, you are Filipino? I LOVElumpia (respectively)! O, you are not Filipino? Ahh, you are Vietnamese? Where is the best pho (respectively) restaurant? I LOVE pho!" It is important in our society to categorize people and "figure" them out. By "figuring" out my ethnicity, it allows this stranger to associate generalizations about my particular group of people and latch those stereotypes onto me in order to feel secure. Categorizations also help people feel comfortable because everything just falls into place and become consistent; they then see only what they want or belief they see.
That random person also looks at me as I am a child. Sometimes I feel that a lot of the odds are against me. Here I am a minority standing at 5 feet, barely making 1 inch, feeling tiny (3 inches shorter and I would legally be considered a midget), as the person to my left or right, towers me by at least 4 to 5 inches. One summer when interning at the State Capital in, what one may believe is a diverse and integrated area,
I look young, most Asians do. I do not know how, but it just happens. You would think more people would catch on to this, but I get questions such as "How old are you?" or "Are you 15? 16?" and after this person realize that they have gravely mistaken, they attempt to save themselves with, "It's good that you look young now, you will age beautifully!" At that moment, the question has already been internalized by both the receiver and contributor. Thank you for your contribution of thoughts, but I feel that you have made assumptions that just limited my possibilities. What are the odds? I am hit with a double standard because I am Asian, a women, and I look young, too.
I did not put the two terms "Vietnamese" and "American" together until I reached college and after I took a lot of Asian American courses to help me with my identity. Throughout kindergarten to high school, I couldn't really define myself or pinpoint what I was. And I would be perplexed with this ongoing inner debate if I was American or Asian or Vietnamese. Now, after careful thought and with the understanding that my identity is fluid, I claim my ethnicity and nationality. I am Vietnamese American and in broader terms, I am Asian American. I am the product of bi-culture, multi-pluralism, and mainstream
I wouldn't say I came from a privileged family. My parents came to the
I am heterosexual female and have been in a serious relationship for a little over 5 years. There are plans of marriage in the future but nothing earlier then 2 to 3 years from now. I am very open with sex and my sexuality. I find it easy to talk about sex to my group of girl friends, sometimes strangers or acquaintances, and share my knowledge of it when those who come and seek for it. I have the same respect for one's sexuality as if they are like everyone else; people with a heart. I am comfortable being around people who are homosexual, bisexual, or claim any other sexuality or identity. I feel that there should be more discussions about sexuality and sex. Oppression does take society as step back from progression. I feel that the same-sex marriage laws are discriminatory and greatly hinder the way for equality.
I hope to represent myself and other Asian Americans and Vietnamese Americans in a positive light. I would like to see the clear glass walls of discrimination and stereotypes be shattered to allow a fairer approach for one's upward mobility and growth. I hope to be alive to see Asian Americans represented in mainstream media and popular culture because we account for the American population as well.