Vietnamese Amerasians

Depicted here is William Wilson with his Vietnamese wife and Amerasian daughter. This image was found on a website that serves to connect Vietnam War veterans with their families in Vietnam by posting images and descriptions of all the people seeking information that may help reconnect them with their families. Wilson was a Combat Photographer that served in the Army from 1968 to 1974 and this photograph was taken of his family in 1972. In the description, it reads that he last heard from them in 1975 where he sent money to provide for their immigration to the United States but his wife and daughter never got back to him. 

Vietnamese Amerasians describes people of mixed American and Vietnamese descent (the common being with an American military father and a Vietnamese mother) who were born during or after the Vietnam War between the years of 1955 and 1975. Amerasian children born in Vietnam oftentimes faced extreme economic and social discrimination due to their heritage which made life difficult. Similar to Wilson’s situation, many Amerasian children struggled in reconnecting with their family back in the United States which highlights the war’s role in disrupting family structure for many Amerasian individuals.

Congress’s passing of the Amerasian Homecoming Act in 1987 allowed approximately 75,000 Amerasians along with their family members to come to the United States. However, tracing back family in the United States can be a difficult task as efforts to make contact were oftentimes futile as lack of legal documentation, changing of names, emotional as well as psychological barriers and social stigmas stood in the way for families. Even so, reconnection isn’t impossible as the founder of Amerasians Without Borders, an organization that uses DNA testing to help relocate Amerasians in Vietnam to America, was able to meet his father in the United States. Initiatives such as his provide Amerasians more options for how they may choose to live out their lives. 

The trope of the Amerasian has been used in popular media with a notable example being the musical, Miss Saigon which told the story of a Vietnamese woman who falls in love with an American G.I. during the end of the Vietnam War and is faced with separation. The Vietnamese woman has an Amerasian child and has hopes of reconnecting with her lover. The musical highlights themes of war, colonialism, and racism. The show has undergone various controversies that relate to the stereotypes employed to depict Asian women and its varying degrees of cultural insensitivity.  

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