Essays

Too Many Homelands

It is very difficult for me to answer the question, “Are you Chinese?” The answer is long and complicated, and would only make complete sense if the person who asked was somewhat aware of modern Asian history.
Sitting in a circle, we clapped in unison singing a traditional Tết song welcoming spring and wishing for a prosperous start to the year. I sat in awe of the resilience and joy that I have been able to witness through my experience at the Compassion House, a reintegration shelter for girls and women who have been victims of human trafficking, opened by the Pacific Links Foundation in 2010.
I hurriedly wrote an Op-ed for the newspaper I work for. “Please, Mr. Zemmour, leave our first names alone.” By this “us” I meant all people who happen, like me, to have first names which point to their (non-French) origins. I even alluded to the fact that I had proudly given my daughters, who are Eurasian, Vietnamese first names. I was insulted on Twitter and on Facebook.
I was doing the High Holidays not only as an act of ritual, but also as a result of a deep yearning for something to feel familiar. Amidst an incredibly abrupt change of scenery—moving across the world to a new country, getting food poisoning during my first week, and most recently, contracting dengue fever. All of this, of course, occurring all at once on my first visit to Vietnam in over a decade.

More Than My Ethnicity

I grew up wanting to run away from my physical identity and only wanting to be seen through the lenses of my character, my points of view, and my accomplishments. Why should being born to certain kind of people be at the forefront of everything I do?
I think Hollywood has and still most of the time employs their friends from “the old boys’ club,” people who look alike and think alike and have similar views about women. This will only change when Hollywood actually values true inclusion, especially when so many studies and articles show doing right by marginalized groups equals a ton more loot at the box office.