Thursday, January 9, 2020

Week1_Janine Nguyen_ASA150E

In Body Counts: The Vietnam War and Militarized Refugees, Yen Le Espiritu emphasizes that the Vietnam War has been redefined countlessly throughout history; the dominant American narrative showcases Americans as heroes who supposedly “saved” the South Vietnamese people from communism. For example, in Espiritu’s book, she states that her reason to starting this project was in part due to the problematic research that reinforces the following, “Emphasizing the traumas of war, flight, and exile, social scientists have constructed Vietnamese refugees as “only lives to be saved,” a people “incapacitated by grief and therefore in need of care” (Espiritu, 2014, p. 16). It is detrimental to the wellbeing of the Vietnamese community, and contributes to the notwithstanding struggle of younger generations’ cultural identity.

The reading holds significant value, especially when concerning the current predicament of the Vietnamese community; the identity of the South Vietnamese people has been reduced to the American perspective of the Vietnam War, which is a prominent issue in the Southeast Asian American community. Younger generations bear the burden of intergenerational trauma of their parents and relatives, whilst having little to no connection to the homeland. Simultaneously, there is a conflict in how Vietnamese American narratives are told, the stark lack of representation poses a huge problem even as of today. Relating this sentiment to the theme of the week, Our Past is Our Present, many younger generations of Vietnamese Americans still suffer from the victimization and trauma that their parents endured as result of the Vietnam War, although they themselves have never experienced war. The history of young Vietnamese Americans has been omitted in standardized educational systems, and this ongoing, prominent issue remains at large.

Truthfully, the reading and class discussion we had made me wonder: how has standardized academic curriculums suppressed young Vietnamese Americans? Beyond the lack of Vietnamese American representation, how have these ingrained beliefs about the Vietnam War influenced and affected Vietnamese American communities? The following video, “Why Did America Fight the Vietnam War”, showcases just how American lives are valued more than Vietnamese lives; in the introductory segment of the video, they highlight American lives…Glorifying the mass military destruction that was wreaked upon the country of Vietnam and its people, rather than acknowledging the irreversible damage that was done to the Vietnamese people and the landscape, the Vietnam War is unfortunately still referenced to when other conflicts, such as the Iraq War, arise. 

Le Espiritu, Y. (2014). Body counts: The Vietnam War and militarized refugees: Univ of California Press.
[PragerU]. (2017, May 29). Why Did America Fight the Vietnam War? [Video File]. Retrieved from

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