Turmoil with the KKK

As Vietnamese refugees slowly began building their new lives in the United States, it wasn’t long until conflict would arise between the differing communities that they were apart of. A notable example of this takes place in cities situated along the U.S. Gulf Coast in Texas. Coastal towns like that of Seadrift, Texas were locations in which many Vietnamese refugees sought to build their new lives in. The residents of such towns weren’t receptive to the arrival of Vietnamese people and this was evident in the employment opportunity sector. Towns like Seadrift focus on the fishing industry to fuel the economy which attracted refugees who originated from fishing communities back in Vietnam to move there as they had the applicable skills to potentially find success in making a living. The rise of Vietnamese fishermen soon caught the attention of the American fishermen as they soon realized that they were actively competing against them to maintain their livelihoods.¬†

These tensions ultimately culminated at 1979 when the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist and extremist group, employed intimidation tactics on the Vietnamese communities to drive them out of towns like Seadrift as well as out of the fishing industry. Their arrival was due to the killing of a white crabber by Vietnamese fishermen after a fishing territory dispute broke out. The men were eventually acquitted on grounds of self defense. The image above actively demonstrates one method of intimidation that the Ku Klux Klan employed to drive out the Vietnamese as depicted, a member sets fire to a fishing boat with the words, “USS Viet Cong” inscribed on the side of the vessel. Not only does the racist and xenophobic tendencies illustrate the attitudes that many Americans had against refugees at the time but also this level of intolerance is a trend that perpetuates the oppression of minority groups like the Vietnamese within the United States. Other intimidation tactics employed is the burning of Vietnamese houses, the burning of crosses in the yards of Vietnamese fisherman and riding around town with a fisherman hanging in effigy. These tactics achieved moderate success in instilling fear within Vietnamese communities, causing them to leave those towns for fear of their safety.

The Ku Klux Klan eventually ceased their tactics when employing their intimidation to Galveston Bay, Texas where the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Vietnamese Fisherman’s Association came together to file a lawsuit against the white supremacist organization and won the case which resulted in the Vietnamese fishing communities to receive protection from the United States Marshalls.¬†

Learn More:

https://www.npr.org/2018/11/25/669857481/decades-after-clashing-with-the-klan-a-thriving-vietnamese-community-in-texas

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_Fishermen%27s_Association_v._Knights_of_the_Ku_Klux_Klan

Image Source:

https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/shows/i-see-u/2021/07/16/403304/i-see-u-episode-9-vietnamese-fishermen-v-the-kkk/