Vietnamese American Identities: How Race, Gender, and Class are Reflected in the Cultural, Language and Technological Barriers
Nguyen, XuanTruong Thi
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This dissertation examines the intersection of race, gender, class with language, cultural and technological barriers as reflected in the experience of first and 1.5 generation Vietnamese American refugees, immigrant parents, and their children in Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and the surrounding areas. Most Vietnamese interviewees in my study faced barriers to upward mobility, racial conflicts outside the home, and are portrayed as "others." This study adds new knowledge by examining how technological barriers hinder Vietnamese immigrants' struggle to overcome racial, class, and gender discrimination during acculturation. Chapter One investigates how post-racial theory is a myth and how "model minority" stereotypes still haunt Asian Americans regardless of their English proficiency and technological skills. Chapter Two analyzes four case studies on how Vietnamese American women juggle work and family under socioeconomic hardships. They are subject to unfair, if not intensely exploitative, treatment in the workplace, and have very limited access to available resources. Chapter Three explores complex interactions concerning generational solidarity and conflicts between first and 1.5 generation Vietnamese immigrant parents and their children in the greater Seattle area. It explores whether the consumption of digital media technology, such as Internet sites, CDs, DVDs, and video games, creates more parent-child conflicts than more harmonious relations for these families. Chapter Four argues the multifaceted relationships between Vietnamese American students, their parents, and teachers, as they interact through technology and education. These students experience the technology gaps concerning family-school interaction based on racial, socioeconomic, and parental involvement and educational status. In Chapter Five examines the ways in which the web environment affects father-children communication in complex ways concerning job reversal and gender roles. My observation shows that while many Vietnamese fathers still upheld traditional gender roles in their families, they tended to encourage their daughters to improve technological skills and academic attainment. My findings demonstrate that regardless of socioeconomic hardships, racial and gender inequalities, and technological struggles, many Vietnamese American parents, regardless of their marital statuses, tried to overcome these struggles to rebuild their new lives, bridge the digital divide, and be part of the mainstream society.