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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

Within the context of the Asian American community and the pervasive “model minority” stereotype, my project hopes to bring to light the struggles and experiences of first-generation Vietnamese Americans from the Houston area. Through structured interviews, this pilot study hopes to archive specific Asian American experiences that continue to defy and disprove the persistent “model minority” stereotype—the durable and racialized identity that generalizes the economic and academic success of all Asians in the United States. This study hopes to also archive the structural and systemic inequities that impose unacknowledged challenges upon students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Southeast Asian Americans who do not conform to such expectations are neglected in a system that claims post-racial meritocracy. While the aggregated data taken on Asian American populations in the United States obscures the problems and experiences of these specific ethnic groups, the individual narratives recorded through interviews will help illustrate a clearer portrait of the problems Vietnamese Americans face within the public education system. I use the theoretical lens of social capital to show how academic tracking and racialized identities affect the educational outcomes of first-generation Vietnamese American students. The findings of my study demonstrate that first-generation Vietnamese American students in the Houston area face several seemingly invisible problems emotional and financial burdens and unacknowledged mental health issues.

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