From the Westbank to New Orleans East, there is a vibrant community of over 20,000 Vietnamese New Orleanians. Once a week host Kim Vu invites a guest to chat about Vietnamese etiquette, ancient proverbs, Vietnamese events in New Orleans, and Vietnamese food. A Vietnamese-American recently arrived from California, Kim combines her own discovery of the local Vietnamese community with her deep familiarity and love of Vietnamese life and customs. Kim and guests weave a tapestry of fun and pho, Hanoi and poboy, as VietNola explores the world of Vietnamese New Orleanians, here and in Vietnam.
When we think of the big city racial crises, there's often that image of an Asian community caught in the middle of it - perhaps epitomized by the Asian shopkeeper in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" who, in defending his business from the same angry mob that had just burned down Sal's Pizzaria shouts: "I no white! I black! You, me, same!"
Things could have been that way in New Orleans East in the days following Hurricane Katrina - with Vietnamese and African American neighbors pitted against each other in competition for resources dedicated for the city's recovery, and on other issues.
But instead of following that pattern, Vietnamese and African Americans forged solidarity on matters such as the speed and quality of FEMA assistance, and on the construction of the proposed landfill - it was powerful, and it made a difference. Our guest this week, Dr. Eric Tang, a scholar at the University of Texas has spent time in New Orleans and written on the subject of relations between the Vietnamese Americans and their African American neighbors in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Why weren't Vietnamese and African Americans antagonistic towards each other in New Orleans as they have been during times of crises in other places? We discuss that this week on VietNOLA.