In Week 5, we go over the following theme: Forgotten, Suppressed, Invisible Histories; to address this issue, it is important to restructure the narrative, especially to offer a platform to underrepresented Asian American voices, such as Vietnamese perspectives. In Viet Thanh Nguyen's book, Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, he emphasizes how Vietnamese writers play a key role in addressing this prominent issue in American literature, particularly in Chapter 7: On Victims and Voices. It is crucial to recognize the oral histories that Asian Americans carry, such as through the stories they tell through photographs, past memories, and the lingering sentiment they feel towards the U.S. or the home country. Identifying these cues can help us bring light to the ongoing issues that haunt the Vietnamese American community, especially when evaluating possible reasons to why intergenerational trauma is difficult to counter, given existing obstacles such as language and cultural barriers.
Personally, I found this chapter to be relevant, especially in my own personal life. I am a second-generation Vietnamese American, so often it can be difficult for me to communicate with my older family members. This made me feel validated, and quite honestly, empowered. I think it is an understatement to say that Vietnamese American perspectives are overlooked; however, it is time for us to preserve our histories, especially the testaments of the Vietnam War, to demonstrate that our voices will be heard. To bring light to these stories, it is time for us to strategize to see what we can do in our own power to bring awareness to these issues. Having access to this liberal education has allowed me to broaden my depth of knowledge, especially in terms of my own history; before, I never had the chance to learn about the Vietnam War in my formal education. For example, if I had never took it upon my own hands to look into Agent Orange, I probably would have never learned about it in my AP World History class in high school…
This begs the question, what can we do to empower these unheard voices? Besides through official means such as publishing texts, or even organizing exhibits, what can the average person do? As a fellow college student, I find myself overwhelmed in work, whether it be through my job or my studies. It can be difficult to partake in these types of involved movements, and I feel that many people can relate. Moreover, what can we do to advocate for those who have been suppressed?
The following photo depicts Vietnamese women reminiscing over the past, as they look at the graves in the cemeteries.
Nguyen, Viet Thanh. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War. Harvard University Press, 2016.
Magazine, Meld. “A Tale of Two Generations: The Vietnam War's Impact on the Current Vietnamese-Australian Population.” Meld Magazine - Australia's International Student News Website, 15 Apr. 2016, www.meldmagazine.com.au/2015/07/vietnam-war-australia-vietnamese-generations/.