The Death of Luyen Phan Nguyễn

While the journey from Vietnam to America was that of many dangers, upon settling into their new lives, many Vietnamese Americans had to confront new forms of dangers that threaten their very lives. The father of Luyen Phan Nguyễn, Dat Nguyễn and his wife were boat people who left Vietnam in pursuit of economic prosperity for their family. They dangerously sailed the seas to Malaysia where they eventually settled in Coral Springs, Florida and had two sons, one of which being Luyen Phan Nguyễn.

While the family finally achieved the prosperity they were searching for in America and came across many people who were accepting of them, there were always instances of racial prejudice that eventually targeted the family. They were occasionally met with racist gestures and remarks and even had drinks thrown at them because of their Vietnamese background. This eventually came to a violent turn when Luyen Phan Nguyễn attended a party.

19 year old Nguyễn was a student studying medicine at the University of Miami at the time of his death. He was invited to a party which included some young men who were known to be delinquents. At one point in the party, the men began saying racist remarks to Luyen who did not hear until he and his group of friends got up to leave which was when one of his friends who overheard the remarks told him about it. This ultimately causes him to walk back to the party to confront the men. After an exchange of insults between both parties, one of the men slaps Luyen which causes the rest of the men to attack Luyen, dealing punches and kicks until the police arrive. The confrontation ultimately results in the snapping of Nguyễn’s spine which causes his death a day and a half later.

The men involved were dealt their sentencing for the murder of Nguyễn but cases like these indicate the hostile nature of Americans towards Vietnamese Americans at that time period. Oftentimes, it is apparent to see in a country with an extensive history of racism to have such trends continue oppressing minority groups such as Vietnamese Americans. In this case, Nguyễn’s death highlights how pervasive racist sentiment is embedded within American society and calls into question of how we can cooperate with one another to promote an understanding of individuals past race to prevent the snuffing of innocent lives.

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