Okay, check out the link.
These ladies’ yearbook photos have been going super viral, right? Cool! Awesome. Kudos to them for being so clever. Hey, I graduated with 27 Nguyens myself, (holla @Evergreen Valley High school) and went to school with 3 other “Tracy Nguyens” ..so I know the joke. Ha. Ha. I think the audience during our graduation even clapped humorously when they called the 27th Nguyen. Rude.
Side note: I think I once joined a fb group called “My name is Tracy Nguyen.”
Anyway, it’s interesting how vague and short these articles are. They praise the girls for being clever and… and what else? Having the “greatest yearbook quote ever?” I’ll give them credit for making an unforgettable mark. It’s definitely a commendable gesture that challenges the notions of all Vietnamese people having the same last name. However, this moment of history can be portrayed more critically. It still can be the greatest yearbook quote if people learn a thing or two more about the history behind it.
I personally don’t think the message was intended to garnish as much politic fervor as expect. Actually, I don’t think the media even analyzes this yb photo with the politics of identity at all. The quote seems to be a mere jab at a common high school racist joke. Racist? Yes, definitely. Especially when people try to guess your last name anytime you identity as Vietnamese.
"Oh oh, you’re Vietnamese? Lemme guess.. Tran? Le? no.. of course.. Nguyen!"
What about the history of the Nguyen Dynasty and its violent, bloody defeat? If I paid more attention in Thay Gerard’s class during my time at Hanoi University, I could better articulate how “Nguyen” is a popular Vietnamese surname because it was the last (and largest) dynasty of Vietnam… it was the last dynasty because the Imperial Palace in Hue was overthrown during the war by the National Liberation Front aka Viet Cong aka HCM aka North Vietnam aka Communist Party.
I mean, what about all the issues of Patriarchy that is operated within a Confucious-influenced-Imperial reign of the royal King? He be making hella babies with his many, many concubines! Also, did you know today’s direct descendants of the Nguyen dynasty actually use the surname Ton-Nu and Ton-That? I know a few of them myself. However, their royal blood has no significance in Vietnam America. Also: ignore Wiki’s claim on “Nguyen” being one of the most common “East Asian surnames”…
Maybe I’m not giving the girls enough credit. I can’t really imagine a better quote that would fit within the limits of 10-12 words. I mean, look at me, it took a rambling blog to explain “Nguyen.” And I hear they wanna go on “Oprah” or the “Today Show?” If they do, I really hope they back up their photo with an insightful story. It’s more than not being related. It’s challenging histories of immigrant/refugee people who have very distinct stories to tell. Vietnam is made up of three VERY different regions and over “54” ethnic minorities. Nguyens come from all over Vietnam.
Similar to how all Asian don’t look alike.. all Vietnamese people don’t have the same last name, damn it.
But as Professor Joi Barrios would say to the girls: “NGUYEN-ERRRRR!!!!”
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