My dad found this old publication by the Union of Vietnamese Student Associations at Georgia from 1995 where I am a child model.
Initially I just wanted to post the cover to share with my friends through social media because who can resist adorable toddler me? It was laying on the kitchen table and I was flipping through the pages, most of which I can’t read because it is written in Vietnamese, when I got started with my usual historic, gendered, and racialized analysis.
Firstly, I noted how different VSAs (Vietnamese Student Associations) or any sort of Asian student organization has changed in 20 years. Twenty years ago, Vietnamese college students were immigrants, some with refugee status. Nowadays, we’re mostly made up of 2nd or 3rd generation immigrant children. The majority of Asian students can identify as American or Asian/Vietnamese/Chinese/Korean/etc. American rather than as a citizen of the country where their parents are from. And this means than instead of focusing on banding together to preserve cultural traditions in a strange and new environment in the US, Asian American students today are actively creating their own Asian American culture which combines identity with pop culture and creating a space on their campuses where their differences are embraced and accepted by all cultures.
Then, I found these two pages, written in English that consisted of students’ responses to a somewhat lighthearted survey. The results are evidence that in 20 years, we still have not made much progress in terms of racial and gender equality.
I think the entire article is informative and funny, in a crude way, but here are some highlights on some parts I found significant:
Would you marry someone different than your own race?
Yes, excluding whites, blacks, orientals, and native Americans.
I can’t tell if this is sarcastic because it excludes nearly everybody except Latin@s (which is the most obvious segment of the population and of course anyone else who identifies outside of these categories) but if it was answered by a Vietnamese student, which is what I assumed, they also mention orientals which is kind of derogatory and maybe only refers to East Asians as opposed to Southeast Asians. I’m just confused by this one.
Definitely not in this lifetime.
Yeah, that’s problematic. Coming from a family that has become increasingly interracial as time goes on, I’d like to believe that we are on our way out of this kind of thinking but with those Cheerios ads from a couple months back, who knows?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being Vietnamese?
There is this stupid stereotype that all Asians are really smart and know some type of martial arts. I don’t like it when people are prejudiced against me.
Prejudice still lives.
I hear ya buddy, prejudice still lives 20 years later. Especially on the playground. It’s horrible that at such a young age, children are conditioned into believing people of a certain race or color should act or behave a certain way. It’s truly detrimental to individual self-esteem and interactions and society at large.
And by the way, it has come to my attention that my knowledge of the Model Minority Stereotype term is not widespread, even among Asian Americans. That is basically the belief that Asians are the hardworking, smart, achieving minority, which is used to contrast against blacks and Latin@s. One must come to an understanding that certain groups where systematically and institutionally discriminated against to the point that they are unable to make economic gains as a whole (yes, individuals do “make it” but as a group, no). On the other hand, the Model Minority Stereotype erases the stories of certain populations of Asian Americans who live in poverty and cannot afford education.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a female?
No disadvantages except having to go through labor pains.
Okay, this girl has no idea or is comfortable with what women do not have access to in relation to men. Gender wage gap, sexual assault statistics, gendered violence, legal rights to what happens to your own body, online and offline harassment, body image expectations, political underrepresentation, I could go on…
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a male?
I have no idea, I think being a female is better.
Oh really? Try it out for a day.
Strong and tough.
This is a problematic definition of masculinity. Just because someone is a man does not mean they are physically strong or aggressively tough. It perpetuates an expectation that is forcibly acted out under the pressure to “be a man” and in some ways is dangerous to women. (See above.)
What do you think about the opposite sex of your own kind?
Wait, what does “of your own kind” mean?
I think they will make excellent wives.
Perpetuating traditional gender expectations, I see.
Can’t live with them. Can’t shoot them.
OKAY THIS IS NOT FREAKING OKAY. Violence against women is NOT FUNNY.
They are so sweet and faithful.
On the other hand, there’s men who hold women on a pedestal like this guy and that is also not right. Women can be as or more bitter and unfaithful as men can be.
And lastly, to end this on a lighter note.
What is the best way to tell someone you love him/her?
Grab the butt.
This guy was weird Tumblr before weird Tumblr was cool.