On Friday we’ll wrap our discussion of In Dubious Battle and, time permitting, begin to talk about the Vietnamese Diaspora as a way of backgrounding le thi deim thuy’s The Gangster We Are All Looking For.
Currently there are about 1.5 million people who claim Vietnamese descent in the United States and of that number probably about 40% live in California. The fall/liberation of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) provoked the first major wave of emigration to the United States and in the years following that event– a second wave lasting from roughly 1978 into the 1980s– two million more Vietnamese people left their country of origin, many of them in small boats, which gave rise to the term “boat people.” As with prior periods of immigration (the Irish in the mid-19th century for instance) the arrival of Vietnamese caused a plurality of responses by “native” Americans, from welcome to backlash.
Currently San Jose City College is hosting The Smithsonian’s “Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon” exhibit. You can see a flyer for that here (pdf).
Also, check out the first part of a four part segment for a PBS program created by Andrew Lam on the Vietnamese Diaspora: