Phở, fuh, and the secrets of Vietnamese noodles

A bowl of phở with chopsticks on a wooden table.

By Guest Contributor: Nam Le

“It’s pronounced phở, not fuh.” 

It is a joyless sentence to say, if I am ever saying it at all.

My first language is a rusty hand-me-down — the kind of thing I am shy to show in public, because it always has to be wrangled out of my pockets awkwardly. But it does work; and on this occasion, it strains and reaches for the last inflection —a balloon rising out of the throat —then sticks the landing.

The distinction does not register.

“I don’t get it. I’m saying what you’re saying. Fuh.”

“You know what? It’s fine. Let’s just go eat.”  

I leave the rest of what I am thinking unsaid—because it has to be.

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Want to Stop Asian Hate? Start by Passing the Build Back Better Act

A family draws images of money, house, clothing, and games on a chalkboard.

By Guest Contributor: Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)

Last year, on the campaign trail, our first Asian American vice presidential candidate spoke about her mom. She recalled how Shyamala Gopalan Harris — a proud, Indian-American immigrant and single mother — would “work around the clock,” “pack lunches before we woke up” and “pay bills after we went to bed.” 

It’s a struggle Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) mothers know too well: Can I get a good job? Can I afford to pay my bills before the cost of childcare eats everything up? Will my aging parents get the care they need? Will my kids have a better future than my own?

With Washington deep in negotiations on President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, AAPI mothers across America are asking themselves the same questions. 

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Asian American Organizations Issue Joint Statement in Support of Haitian and Black Immigrants

A migrant encampment at the southern US border, near Texas. (Photo credit: Julio Cortez / AP)

By Guest Contributor: GAPIMNY – Empowering Queer & Trans Asian Pacific Islanders

As Asian American organizations and communities, we express our unrelenting solidarity for Haitian and Black immigrants under attack at the Southern Border. We demand the Biden Administration immediately end the mass deportations of Haitian and Black immigrants. As we write this, the Biden Administration is forcibly returning over 10,000 Haitian asylum-seekers fleeing political destabilization, natural disaster, and severe poverty.

As Asian American and immigrant communities, we recognize the many complex drivers of migration. Many of us are here due to war, colonization, imperialism, poverty, and unsafe conditions in our nations of origin. We recognize the U.S. immigration system is rooted in white supremacy, benefits immigrants with wealth and education, and targets low-income immigrants who too often are migrating for survival. This reflection of white supremacy has led to the current humanitarian crisis at the Southern Border, and the deportation of Vietnamese refugees this spring who had lived in the United States for decades. We denounce both actions as racist and classist, and call on all Asian communities to recognize how these actions interconnect Black and Asian liberation.

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Adoptees Call For Boycott of “Blue Bayou”

Adam Crapser and his daughter in 2015. (Photo credit: Gosia Wozniacka / AP)

Last Friday, filmmaker Justin Chon’s latest – Blue Bayou – opened in theatres nationwide, and I interviewed Chon as well as actor Linh-Dan Pham about the film. Shortly after the film’s release, however, members of the adoptee community took to social media to express frustration about Blue Bayou and the ways in which they feel the film fails to properly represent the adoptee experience.

Korean American adoptee and abuse survivor Adam Crapser – who was deported to South Korea five years ago and whose story I wrote about several times on this site – posted a statement on social media saying that Chon reached out to him four years ago expressing interest in bringing his story to film, but that communication suddenly ceased after Chon responded. Crapser was deported in 2016 following an intense grassroots effort to stop his deportation proceedings, leading to separation of him from his wife and young children.

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Finding Peace in the End: In Conversation with Blue Bayou’s Linh-Dan Pham

Linh-Dan Pham as Parker in Blue Bayou. (Photo credit: Focus Features / Blue Bayou)

Asian American filmmaker Justin Chon’s latest film – Blue Bayou – opens today in theatres nationwide. In the film, Linh-Dan Pham plays Parker, a Vietnamese refugee who has resettled with her father in the New Orleans area and who is in the end stages of her battle with cancer.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to chat with Linh-Dan about her role as Parker in Blue Bayou.  The following is a transcript of our conversation. It has been edited for length and clarity.

JENN: Hi, Linh-Dan – thank you so much for taking the time today. I’m really excited to have the chance to talk with you about Blue Bayou. I found the film really powerful, and I really loved your performance as Parker.

One of the things that really strikes me is how few in-depth and complicated representations of the Vietnamese refugee experience there are in media. Can you talk a little bit about what drew you to this character and what aspects of the refugee experience you were trying to portray in your performance of Parker?

LINH-DAN: First of all, I have to admit that in the beginning I had no clue who Justin Chon was! (laughs)

My reason is because I’m French and I don’t live in America. I’m not American; I’m French Vietnamese. But of course, I’m always interested in knowing Asian American – and Asian, in general – artists.

When Justin first got in touch with me, he was so modest. He said: “I wrote this part and I think you would be perfect for it. These are the links to my two movies Gook and Ms. Purple, and here is the script.”

When I watched both of his films – Gook and Ms. Purple – I just fell in love with his work. And, along with the script for Blue Bayou? It was really a no-brainer. On top of all that, Justin’s female characters are always so beautiful and strong, and they always have a storyline of their own. And so really, I was like – yeah, take me! (laughs)

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