Refugee Romeo & Juliet: I WAS BORN

I’m starting a new category.  It’s going to be somewhere between critical essays on race, class, gender, sexuality, global ish and the good, the bad, the ugly in my eyes.

There are many layers when talking about the Vietnam War.  So let me break the entities down for you:

The Colonizers = French (Outsiders)
The Anti-Imperialist Revolutionaries = North Vietnam (Insiders)
The Anti-Communist Revolutionaries = South Vietnam (Insiders)
The Nosy MFerz with the Personal Agenda = United States (Outsiders)

North Vietnamese revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh, finally kicked the French out, claiming Vietnamese independence for the first time in over 1000 years.  After so many years of fragmented colonization, he wanted to unite all of Vietnam under one vision–Communism.  But South Vietnam wanted to do their own thing, so they became more of the underdawg radicals, waging a guerilla war against the North.  The U.S. got involved, fighting on the side of the “South” but since they couldn’t tell North Vietnamese apart from South Vietnamese, they ended up murdering anyone and everyone who looked Asian.  To this day, the world still questions why the U.S. got involved and what they were fighting for–and no one will give you a good reason because there isn’t one. But international supporters like Che Guevara, Black Panther Party, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, African nations, Third World Nations, the working class and revolutionaries alike outspokenly stood in solidarity with Vietnam against U.S. and their aggressive, imperialist, suckiest agenda.  Basically, looking at internal affairs, the Vietnam War was a war between one set of Revolutionaries against another set of Revolutionaries.  The North and the South did not get along.  It was an onslaught of radicals, militants, guerilla fighters and working people against their mirrored selves.  Everybody wanted independence, but freedom looked different to different people.

My pops was a city boy from the North, one of 7 children. After the North Vietnamese kicked out the French AND the Americans in 1975, the entire country fell under “Communist” rule.  There was a lot of chaos and poverty.  Many people wanted to get out but it was illegal to leave the country.  So people secretly escaped by boat; hence, refugee.  If you were caught trying to escape, you were immediately imprisoned.  When my pops made his run, he left only a letter behind for my grandma.  He didn’t tell anybody–not even his family because it endangered him to get caught.

My mom was a seaside girl from the South–she was from a small, fishing village where all the men went off to sea for months at a time and the women stayed back and hustled a modest living in anticipation to see how much fish would be brought home.  They lived in shacks made from scraps of metal and wood, some on stilts because the tide would rise and so people had to travel by boat to go from home to home.  My mom was the youngest of 5 kids, and the only one to escape Vietnam by boat.  The boat fare was 1 ounce of gold.

My mom and pops were just teenagers when they said “FIGHT THE POWER!” and escaped Vietnam.  We got the revolutionary-life-on-the-line-fight-for-what-you-believe spirit in our blood.

To fast forward to the good part, both my parents coincidentally ended up in East Boston via a Refugee Relief program.  They lived in the same housing complex with other refugee homies.  My mom was a Pretty Young Thing and all the girls had a crush on my dad.  No surprise, my pops had his eyes on my mom, and tried stepping to her but immediately my mom was like, “I don’t date men from the Communist Country!”  This was nothing to deter my dad.  He insisted, “Just because my government is like that doesn’t mean I’M like that…” (Sound familiar, Americans?)  My pops persisted with the mackdown and continued to woo my mom until next thing you know, my older sister was born, and then I WAS BORN!  It was a brave, forbidden love for it’s time. But like Che Guevara and many revolutionaries will tell you, at the core of any revolution, is love.

And that’s how I was born.  Now let’s start the show.

It’s cool to find artwork in every countries around the world supporting Vietnam (China, Cuba, Angola, Russia, Philippines, Cambodia, etc.).  This is just a snippet:

Cuba supports Vietnam: “For a Vietnam 10 times more beautiful.”

“The People of Viet Nam will win!  The American Imperialist will lose!”

Friends today and back in the day

Read about how the Black Panther Party and Ho Chi Minh became homies! Click the image for full story:

I had the honor of meeting Muhammad Ali when I was in the fourth grade!!  This man laid the WWF truth on the world.  And I’m not talking about wrestling.  I’m talking about the SMACKDOWN!!!



Filed under Bigger Than Me and You, Essays on the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

4 responses to “Refugee Romeo & Juliet: I WAS BORN

  1. Sara… u r too cool. I love this because i know how you feel – being 100% Guatemalan means you’re 100% from a million different places: German, Italian, Spanish, Mayan, and now living in America – crazy. This is awesome and it inspires me. I hope all is well with you. – your favorite coffee boy 😉

  2. tiffany

    mama and poppa nguyen is wassup tho. thanks for the background story.

  3. Yeaaaaah, Sahra. I loved hearing the stories of your mom and pops rolling out of Vietnam and falling in love because I love hearing similar stories from my mommabear and papabear 🙂

    I’m glad you simplified the Vietnam War for those who needed a break down of the breakdown (I know I did when I was younger). Good looks! See you tomorrow!

  4. Minh John


    I love this article, because many people have a parochial view of the Vietnam War. This article was both insightful and unbiased. I think it’s ignorant when people only choose a side and are not able to see conflicts from multiple angles, so I hope that those who read this article do have a different perspective of the war…..

    and that is SOME ROMEO AND JULIET STORY OF YO MOM and POPS. loveee it homie keep up the good work.

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