Photographs from the Vietnam War became the voice of anti-war protest and eventually changed the course of the war. In the same vein, Bill Kurtis and Audrey Tiernan’s photographs of abandoned and suffering Amerasian children in the streets of Saigon ignited the American public and pushed the government to act. In response, funding and laws were created to bring Amerasians back to the United States.
The aim of this photography blog is to document the Amerasians who are still in Vietnam – to put a human face and a ‘voice’ to these people who were abandoned by their fathers and who, until recently, were ostracized by their own society. Over the course of six weeks on two separate trips to Vietnam, I interviewed and photographed ten Amerasians and their families in and around Ho Chi Minh City. They were made up of mostly Caucasian Amerasians and some African Amerasians. While their ethnicity may varies, they all have these things in common: they had, at some point in their lives, applied for a US immigrant visas either under their actual names or with a fake Vietnamese family; and they were rejected for fraud or failure to establish their American link. I want to let individual Amerasians ‘tell’ their stories here through photographs, and through their letters to the US Consulate and their words from my interviews. I hope that this will encourage more Amerasians to come forward and post their stories and photos. In addition I also interviewed an Amerasian man who left for the US in 1990 and has just returned to Vietnam on a long-term basis to look for his birth mother and to help other Amerasians. His story should serve as an inspiration to other Amerasians living abroad to extend a helping to their less fortunate brethren in Vietnam.
I’m exploring the combined use of photography, personal narratives, and the Internet to give a rejuvenated voice to Amerasians in modern Vietnam and to provide a more personal look at their lives. In this society that is so well connected via the Internet, the opportunity for Amerasians and Americans to establish some kind of link and to look for each other is far greater than what it was less than a decade ago. I would like to use this project as a platform to link the Amerasian community both in and outside Vietnam, and to become a tool for communities of Amerasians and Americans to exchange information and dialogues.