Miss Saigon Lies: Our Truth Project

A photo and story project to counter the racist, sexist, colonialist musical Miss Saigon,
in our words and through our eyes.

Follow us on Tumblr, where you can submit your own truth

Click on any image to read more.

All my life, I’ve been told in forms like Miss Saigon that I was an exotic third world lady-child in need of a white knight to save me from my ramshackled homeland and fulfill my sexual fantasy. “White knights” are actually the very reason my country and people are still recovering, and why my parents had to leave family, fresh persimmon and coriander for the slow death of fast food and menial labor. And my fantasies don’t involve any white knights, but in fact, on their obliteration. Stop telling inside-out bullshit and expecting us to take it.I am a transgender Asian American man, and this is my truth: my parents frequently talked about how if they had stayed in Taiwan that they would be more economically well off. Miss Saigon’s story implies that the American dream is so compelling that it is worth literally killing yourself for. Also, Asian men and women were also portrayed negatively, making it even more difficult for other Asian transgender people to navigate their own identities and sense of self. Why don’t you care about my truth?-RNobuko Miyamoto - Artist/OrganizerMiles Hamada - Community Member, Obon EnthusiastI am a Vietnamese American womyn of immigrant parents and this is my truth: My single mother came to America knowing no English, was bullied every day, and dropped out of high school, but managed to work three jobs to raise me. My grandma was impregnated by two frenchmen and one american man in the early 1900s. They left her to raise the children on her own. My aunt was a prostitute in Vietnam because our family was too poor and my grandma had to raise 7 children by herself. I am surrounded by strong single womyn who have made it on their own, through endless hardships. Miss Saigon lies about the reality of a Vietnamese womyn living in Vietnam and America. Miss Saigon lies about the struggle of a Vietnamese womyn. Miss Saigon lies about my grandmother’s pain, my aunt’s pain, my mother’s pain, my pain. - JessicaTruth Paragraph from J.N.:I am a Norwegian-American man raised in Minnesota and this is my truth: I was raised to be a “white” person entitled to all the privileges and unconsciousness that goes with that territory. If I haven’t learned anything else in my life about being an ally of people of color and women, it is to LISTEN to the voices of people who are the targets and subjects of personal bigotry and institutional racism and sexism. The Ordway has had nearly 20 years to get a clue about how their production of this Imperial fantasy hurts people in OUR COMMUNITY, as well as countless others who have been subjected to the various other productions of “Miss Saigon.” The Ordway’s promotional material states that “Miss Saigon presents an array of inspiring music and lyrics which appeal to all our senses and emotions.” And that’s how privilege and power work: We’re supposed to understand whose “senses and emotions” they’re talking about, and to not notice the people whose “senses and emotions” are under attack, despite the fact that they can be heard shouting at the top of their lungs right outside the door (literally). They think that their “we” includes me. It does not. I am outraged. Truth Paragraph from M.H.:I am a European-American woman and this is my truth:My truth is that all women and all people deserve respect. As a European American woman, I also am offended by the simplistic views presented in Miss Saigon about the relationships between men and women, different cultures and the lack of awareness of power dynamics.Hello friends, please consider signing our petition:  http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/DontBuyMissSaigonBig ups to 18 Million Rising and the Don’t Buy Miss Saigon coalition for making the petition happen. And please enjoy this amazing poster art by long time community activist and artist Ricardo Levins Morales! Miss Saigon: Rated “R” for Racist Content, Explicit Sexism. http://www.rlmartstudio.com/I am a Korean adopted, physically disabled woman, and this is my truth: My beautiful, complicated, and unique body utterly exists. It shatters your tired, conventional stereotypes with its glorious incongruities. It is wildly unpredictable and powerful as hell. My Asian body is so much more than your two-dimensional representations.-KI’m an Asian Adoptee from southern Korea and this is my truth: I was told I was an illegitimate child given up by my birth mother and abandoned by my birth father. When in fact, my parents were always married and I had two older sisters. My adoption agency created a tragic story about my life in order for me to be more “adopt-able.” Miss Saigon perpetuates the “White Savior” complex in Asian orphans and paints a tragic sob story where abandoned, helpless and poor children need saving. Countries where people and children are displaced due to economic strife, war, environmental disasters, etc. do not need the the Imperialist West to “save” them. They need the resources to rebuild their lives and ensile safety, love, and community. Taking children away from their country, homes and families is not the answer. -XI am a Desi Muslim Mother. This is my truth: You can’t tell me who I am because you can’t claim blood or heart. Can’t speak about what you don’t know. Indispensable life-force, gut essence, dignity. A spirit who transcends your delusional narrative. A living being.-Sham-e-AliI am a Korean American woman and this is my truth: I was raised by refugees and a veteran. I do my best to honor the experiences of my ancestors and communities. I continually witness the institutional silencing and/or distortion of our community’s truths and try to bring those unheard stories to light. Are you listening? -RI am a Hapa man and this is my truth. From my 1995 letter published in the L.A. Times:  • No thank you to the “classic love story of our time” being about a white soldier and his Asian prostitute. I’ve seen enough stereotyping of white male saviors and submissive Asian sex vixens to brainwash a nation.• No thank you to the two white men who were so moved by a picture of a mother bidding farewell to her Amerasian child that they were compelled to tell their story. Most of the Hapa (Amerasian) children you write about were left in Vietnam by white men. We can tell our own stories. Thousands of Asian American writers, actors and performers do so daily, but apparently it takes white male perspectives to be profitable.• No thank you to the argument that this musical opens doors for Asian American actors. I’ve seen enough Asian barmaids, soldiers, prostitutes and pimps on television to last a lifetime. Hollywood movies consistently pair exotic Asian women with white men while Asian men are reduced to cooks, ninjas and idiots.• No thank you to the Asian American activists who protest only why an Asian American is not cast in the role of the Eurasian engineer. If the character is Eurasian, both white or Asian castings are equally incorrect. Amerasians are pulled to either side for our support when needed, then discounted as not being really Asian or really white.If you see “Miss Saigon,” don’t get too lost in the fantasy. Some of us are real.I am a Vietnamese American woman, and this is my truth: It is not customary practice in Vietnamese culture to force marriages between family relatives, let alone cousins, nor force betrothals between children. Traditional Vietnamese culture is one of the most feminist progressive cultures - we had laws stating that daughters had equal rights to inherit family property as sons, women could own and inherit property as men, and women could keep their family names instead of forcing them to change their surnames to their husbands family’s at the same time that women in Europe were seen as little more than marriage chattel to be sold for their dowries. Miss Saigon doesn’t want you to know about these truths. I am a Vietnamese American woman, and I would choose to fall in love with a Thuy over an American G.I. any damn day of the week. Miss Saigon doesn’t want you to know about this truth. I am a Vietnamese American woman. Why don’t you care about my truth? - -NBI am ethnic-Chinese Vietnamese American womyn of color, and this is my truth. I come from a long line of fierce womyn and men: my grandmother, with 20 dollars to her name, who took her 8 children out of Vietnam in hopes of a better future; my then-16-year-old mother who sailed for a week in a boat to escape the bombing of her beloved Saigon; my father who gave up school and his own dreams so that his younger siblings, myself, and my siblings could pursue ours; my older sister, a first generation college student, working full time and attending the local community college. These lived experiences deserve more than exploitation. Where are their stories on billboards and playbills?-J.MacI am a Vietnamese-American man and this is my truth:My family fled Vietnam in 1980, but even before that my family has been impacted by the legacy of colonization and imperialism. Everyday in the US, I’ve had to deal with racism and discrimination in its many forms, and I’m tired. Tired of the “what are yous and the where are you froms.” Tired of the “I hate your kinds” and “go back to where you came froms.” Tired of being chased by cars and experiencing other threats of violence. And tired of people telling me I should be grateful while all this shit is happening.“Be thankful you’re in America, and not in Vietnam”My truth is not Miss Saigon, but the way popular shows like Miss Saigon impact my everyday life. It is having to choose between a racist, one-dimensional portrayal of the diaspora or the whitewashed version. It is having to listen to nauseating praise of a story that romanticizes human trafficking and forced prostitution. It is having to end relationships for being called too sensitive or racist for pointing out racism. It is being listened to but not heard. And it is being told to give credit to a production like Miss Saigon for bringing communities together to talk when we’ve already been doing so for years. -PI am a Vietnamese American Man, and this is my truth: I am who I am today because of the strong women around me. My mother and my three older sister’s are the 4 most influential people in my life. They have taught me that all peoples should be respected regardless of race, gender, belief, or orientation. -EricI am a Vietnamese American, transracial adoptee, and man of color, and this is my truth: Miss Saigon is not my story. I am more than two acts and six scenes, and a pandering to the lowest common denominator. Juxtaposed against the backdrop of a nation steeped in xenophobia and racial inequity, where our voices are not heard, images not reflected, and true power still not reached even though we are generations strong - Miss Saigon is the bụi đời, the halfbreed, the unwanted, and the immoral. I am nothing that it tries to tell you that I am.-AWe are Việt women and this is our Truth.Chúng mình là Con Rồng Chaú TiênWe are Children of the Sea Dragon and the Mountain Goddess Mình muốn cưỡi cơn gió mạnhĐạp luồng sóng dữChém cá kình ở biển khơiĐánh đuổi quân NgôGiành lại giang sơnCởi ách nô lệChứ mình không chịu khom lưng làm tì thiếp người. We want to ride the mighty stormsGlide on fierce wavesSlay sharks in the open seaExpel the aggressorsRestore the country Take off the yoke of slaveryand never stoop to be anyone’s concubine. -Bà Triệu, Nhụy Kiều Tướng Quân 248 ADLady Triệu the Golden Robed General was a female warrior who led a rebellion astride an elephant to resist invaders in 3rd century Việt Nam
I am a Chinese male. And this is my truth: I am a student in North California. I came from a family who taught me how to live by my own. And I am happy to being an Asian male. Miss Saigon is lying about Asian.Growing up, the musical Miss Saigon has been deeply romanticized into the Filipino community in being that the lead female role was performed by Lea Salonga, a Filipina singer and actress. Miss Saigon can only be afforded and benefit by rich, White people in that they at anytime can walk away or benefit from white supremacy, colonialism, corporate and non-profit capitalism, racism, sexism and human trafficking; Miss Saigon does not talk about those at all. For the rest of us, left to celebrate the achievement that one of our own community member, a Filipina “made it” while struggling with the dehumanizing Asian stereotypes that Miss Saigon has helped perpetuate in our daily lives. I boycott Miss Saigon and any institution that chooses to perpetuate racism, sexism, colonialism and romanticize lies about Vietnamese people, and Asian American people. Miss Saigon Lies. PEOPLE WILL NOT UNDERSTAND AND REFUSE TO UNDERSTAND or even try BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT THE ONE GREATLY AFFECTED BY IT. You’re not the one that is going to be called “me love you long time” and be sexually objectified because you’re an Asian Womyn! And for someone to tell you what you should and should not do, have some own sense of critical thinking please and have an open mind to the question why? Actions You Can Take to Support & Share to Mobilize: 1)SUBMIT YOUR TRUTHS HERE: http://dontbuymiss-saigon.tumblr.com/2) SIGN OUR PETITION HERE: http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/DontBuyMissSaigon?source=field3) The Don’t Buy Miss Saigon Coalition is taking both individual and organizational endorsements of its statement to stand in solidarity to end Institutional racism, sexism & colonialism. Contact: dontbuymisssaigon@gmail.comfirst generation bay area native vietnamese soft butch queer dyke here and still would be too if i was born on the motherland, i just know this! raised by my mama, she knew she wanted to have me, not necessarily a man. she got that 18 year olds sperm and gave me life. i aim to be the womyn she is to herself and others. her mother, my ba ngoai a teacher, a social worker, resistent, and still creates her destiny is my shining star. our family lived in saigon where we owned a bookstore before fleeing the country. now in california, we see our reflection in the waters of the pacific ocean. they dont know about us, but now you do.George Abe - Musicians, One of the Godfathers of American TaikoQuetzal Flores, Artist/OrganizerI am an Asian American woman and this is my truth: I am a Korean adoptee and an American actress and playwright. Miss Saigon is anathema to me. It represents a disgusting form of theater that should be removed permanently from the canon. By promoting stereotypes, it creates a one-dimensional portrayal of Asian women that is inexcusable in the 21st century. How would funders and theaters feel if there was a show called “Miss 9/11?” Miss Saigon is exactly that: a horrific moment in history used as the backdrop for a manufactured and inappropriate love story. This is what is being portrayed in Miss Saigon. This is the pain that is being shoved onto Vietnamese Americans. Any Asian American actor who chooses to be in this production is contributing to this travesty. As an Asian American actor, you weigh many things every time you walk into an audition. You carry your integrity, your community, and your truth into each audition and onto the stage. Take time to pause and reflect on what you are supporting by portraying stereotypes of Vietnamese people in Miss Saigon. Reflect on what you are saying about yourself and your own life as an artist. If refusing to portray a stereotype or fund Miss Saigon means you have to work in a coffeeshop, then you have character and all my respect for making the right choice.-SMiss Saigon is grounded in the silencing of so many voices - layers and layers of people whose experiences are re-imagined to be more palatable for society’s consumption. Most child sex-trafficking survivors are never heard from, silenced by shame or self-medication, suicide or murder - but here I am. This play offends my truth. Anyone who sees this play is choosing to wrap the utter horror of sex trafficking in a pretty box, pretending its just a story, its just a play, it’s just a love story.   This musical isnt just…  I could spell out the real truth of prostitution, share stories of what it’s like to have your wrists tied down. I could talk about what it’s like to sit on a bed and watch one man hand dollars over to another man, and how those exchanges have impacted my lifelong internal calculations of worth. I could speak to being the 17 year old girl whose been taught that she has no right to say no, that her job is making men happy, that her measure of value is based on the satisfaction of others. I could speak to how all of us learn the song and dance of the trade, how to smile and cheer for the wellbeing of the man paying for you, and how Miss Saigon has confused survival strategies with love…but Miss Saigon and the Ordway don’t want truth - neither respect the countless individuals and communities offended by this production, prioritizing dollars over morality and social justice. It never ceases to amaze me how much money can be made when you put a smile on top of the pain. -TI am a Queer Korean Adoptee, and this is my truth:Productions like Miss Saigon perpetuate stereotypes and misconceptions about my history, my home country and the ignorance affects me every single day. Living in Brooklyn, at least once a day I am cat-called with “Ni-hao” “Konichiwa” and other phrases with the assumption that I don’t understand or speak English. As an Asian woman, I’m often seen by strangers not as a person but as an object to be obtained. Organizing, building power within Asian communities and working toward tongil (peaceful reunification) of the Korean diaspora is how I fight back.-@SkwishmeejI am a middle-aged, Asian American person with a vagina (and, no, it isn’t slanted). This is my truth: In my lifetime, I have hooked up with plenty of men. Some of them have even been white. I’ve enjoyed most of these encounters, and I’ve never had the desire to kill myself for anyone.-CI am a queer Asian woman of Chinese descent, born in Queens, raised in Stamford, and grown up on the West Coast. This is my truth: productions like Miss Saigon have never been by us, for us, or about us. The play - and the theater’s responses to community outrage in Minnesota - reveal the ugly truth of white America and its cultural institutions: shallow, sexist, racist, misogynistic, predatory, colonial, imperial, tragic, unoriginal. My family’s own stories were told to us, and made and remade, over the furry remains of sticky mango skin and juice-splattered newspaper and the laughter of my mother and her sisters and cousins; in front of the map in my dad’s room after my parents had become nothing more than roommates; in the kitchen wrapping dumplings, hands caked with flour, a bowl of meat and scallions between us. You know nothing of our lives. - DPWI am a Thai American man, and this is my truth. I am an actor, musician and father. I will teach my daughter the value of compassion and the power of her voice. She will not be misrepresented.-BI am a Hmong American man, and this is my truth: raised by three sisters and showed by my mother what a strong Asian woman truly is. I’m not trying to have my nieces dreaming of being a Miss Saigon! Played with three brothers and taught by my father that there’s no such thing as free, but plenty of proof of greed, so lead by example by any means. I’m not trying to have my nephews be portrayed by a yellow face!-  David V.I am a multiracial Sri Lankan-with-a-white-mom diasporic queer cis femme woman who is a writer, performer and educator and this is my truth: My father came to the U.S. because of the legacies of colonization in our homeland that manifested in inter-community hatred and a almost 30 year civil war. I grew up in Massachusetts in the 80s in a world that never talked about Asians or Sri Lankans, except for brief, stereotypical moments like Miss Saigon. When you’ve left everything you’ve known, if you don’t have stories that tell your real truths, you start dying inside. My father and me and all Asian/Pacific Islander people deserve art that actually shows our complex, beautiful, resilient lives- not a bunch of racist, sexist, sex worker phobic stereotypes. And: sex workers of color are some of my most beloved friends and community. I value their lives, activism and badass ways of surviving white capitalist colonialist patriarchy so much. Miss Saigon doesn’t tell their story- it tells a really tired, whorephobic story of a grateful Asian sex worker who kills herself that has nothing to do with the incredible lives of the fierce APIA sex workers I know and who are organizing globally for their rights, whose work rarely gets the credit for helping whole communities to survive that it deserves.-LI am a Vietnamese Australian adoptee, and this is my truth: I am not the Dust of Life, whose mother may have been a club hostess. Like Trung Sisters, she may have fought for our land and freedom or was a public servant for the US Army or just a shopkeeper in Cho Lon. Our lives are more than a white man’s saviour/Orientalist third world porn. -DI am a Vietnamese American, woman of color and transracial adoptee and this is my truth.  I was born in Vietnam during the war, adopted by an American soldier and brought to the US in 1970.  I was raised by a white family in a majority white town where Rambo was believable and Asian women were either oppressed wives or prostitutes.  Miss Saigon is not my story but perpetuates stereotypes that were fed to me as a child by society, neighbors, friends and even family members.  I grew up with a distorted view of the country and people of my birth as well as of myself.  It has taken me years to purge my psyche of those popularized lies and develop a strong sense of identity.  I can now say I’m proud to be Vietnamese American.  Miss Saigon is NOT my story.-SWe are mixed Viet American men, and this is our truth. We are not tragic, not doomed. The women in our family are strong and fiercely loving. They’ve had to be. We will never forget to honor that strength, that love. And we won’t let you forget either.-LMBD, SJMD, GBDI am a Vietnamese American man and this is my truth: my mother Giap fled Vietnam in 1975, seven months pregnant with me. she was resettled in Seymour, Indiana, a small town surrounded by cornfields. a couple years ago she was able to finally retire from her workplace, which happens to be the last remaining ironing board factory in the United States. i was lucky enough to be there on her last day of work with a camera in hand. - tony01. i didn’t even know about Miss Saigon until this project. just because you did, doesn’t mean you know about me.02. white people do not define me. whether they are academics, artists, composers, or my date. 03. “the lanterns made to usher in the full moon an art form that dies with the father in a foreign land but left intact is the silvering bamboo images of the past shelved to collect dust waiting for rebirth into the familiar as in the shadow that steps into itself so that the child may emerge whole existing on his own terms” - truong tran
I am a Chinese female. And this is my truth: I raise in a family who teach me to be strong and count on myself.“Miss Saigon distorts the truth about Vietnamese womyn. We are [Nhà of New Nữ], a poetry collective of Vietnamese womyn who are determined to not allow productions similar to Miss Saigon, overshadow our stories. The truths we share are multi-dimensional and celebrate different identities to promote strength in diversity while Miss Saigon oppresses Vietnamese womyn by capitalizing on the pattern of patriarchy and legacy of colonialism. We will not stay silent and instead resist the echos of stereotypes by sharing our own unique struggles. The womyn in this collective come from an area spanning the Mekong Delta and across the Pacific Ocean and together, we drop beats of knowledge and love.Check out our tumblr at : nhaofnewnu.tumblr.comWe are Asian people. I am an Asian-American woman. I am a Korean-Adoptee. I am the single mother of a bi-racial son. I am a writer. I am an educator. I am an Arts Patron. My story is complex and only I can tell my Truth. My son embodies the pride and strength of his multiple heritages, and through the very act of living his life, contributes to the continued collective narrative of Asian People. My son knows the truth about what makes people strong. Narrative literature tells the stories and histories of people. These stories inform and develop our concepts and beliefs of others and ourselves.  Miss Saigon tells a story that lies about Asian women and their children. While Christianity idealizes the white, virgin martyr, Miss Saigon idealizes the brown, prostitute martyr. Both are oppressive lies. One idealizes to oppress, the next idealizes oppression. Miss Saigon idealizes oppression to make money for corporate theatre. It is up to all of us to condemn narrative literature that perpetuates racism, sexism & all forms of oppression. It is up to all of us to encourage our young people and each other to reclaim the right to our own narrative, our own Truth. ~a & aI am a queer transnationally transracially adopted Korean American woman. Your lies tell me nothing about my life. My dreams, my pain, my reality - I own them, I live them, and I condemn the use your imperialist capitalist fantasy of my loved ones and I for your own financial gain and casual entertainment. My truth about my existence has been hard-fought and cannot be facilely squeezed into three hours of racist sexist colonialist songs about allegorical suns and moons. I condemn the avarice of all theaters who pay lip service to community and yet continue to produce this travesty in the face of our cries. I condemn the hypocrisy of the pleasure-seekers who glory in their ability to feel sorry for the mother of the “dust of life” but who deny the primacy of women of color - worldwide - to mother their own children. My own violent origins were a result of imperialism, militarism, capitalism, love, fear, apathy, idealism, and greed. What I have fiercely fought to create as my present truth arises both because of and in the face of these things, and I burn down your attempt to tell me who my family is, and who I am. I work for peace, justice, and reunification in my communities. I love ice cream and I’m raising a cat. Go educate yourself; I’m going to tell my own damn truth. -CKAngela Flores - Artist/Organizer with Angelina GomezI am a Vietnamese American womyn and this is my truth: I get my strength, determination, resilience and passion from my parents. Like many refugee families, our display of love wasn’t always white picket fences and hand holding at the dinner table. “I love you” was not a common phrase around the home. But a love that can endure the edge of death, escaping a war torn country by boat, and forging a new future in a country that constantly rejected us for being different–is more powerful and real than the bullshit “love story” of Miss Saigon. Miss Saigon is not a story about love. Miss Saigon is a pathetic attempt to glorify America and justify its white savior role after losing the Vietnam War to North Vietnam. Don’t be blinded by the lights. Miss Saigon lies. -SI am a ‘Vietnamerican’ and this is my truth.I suspect Miss Saigon’s depiction of Amerasians came from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of “ a person of mixed American and Asian descent; especially one fathered by an American and especially an American serviceman in Asia”.My truth is the inverse of that archaic definition.My father was a South Vietnamese naval man who married my Euro-American mother in Boston. He became a refugee as a result of the far-reaching aftermath of colonialism and imperialism.Do not assume I was born out of wedlock, and do not assume I was baby lifted out of Vietnam. And FUCK YOU, I am no bui doi’. I am not the dust of life, and was not conceived in hell and born in strife. Vietnam may not accept me, but I am also marginalized in the land of the free and home of the brave.Miss Saigon lies about my story.-VI am a Taiwanese American queer woman of color, and this is my truth.The truth is that I used to love the play Miss Saigon. As an Asian American teenager, I adored Lea Salonga and was just thrilled to see any Broadway production featuring Asians at all. I was excited by Asian participation and representation in theater. I was thirsty. So I ignored the racial slurs and the presentation of Vietnam as a confusing place where life has no worth. I thought of Miss Saigon as an epic interracial love story without paying attention to the part where she was sexually trafficked underage minor whose virginity was purchased for him by his friends. I ignored the lyrics where he never thinks of describes her as a wife, just a girl. I ignored how her reaction to being abandoned by the white guy for a white woman was to kill herself. I ignored the message that her son is better off without his mother because America. I ignored the controversy, at first, around the yellowface casting of the sleazy Engineer. And I brushed off the reaction of my friend’s Vietnamese mother when I told her it was my favorite musical. I didn’t pause to wonder why she had reacted with disgust.I would learn later on to value the voices of Vietnamese Americans, the stories we don’t talk about. I learned about how queer Asian American activists challenged Lambda Legal for failing to be intersectional in it’s clueless support of the musical. I learned that community theaters still yellowface Miss Saigon in the 2000s, and that the teacher’s guide issued for Miss Saigon tells white British and American students that Vietnamese people eat dogs. I learned that white American audiences are willing to engage with and reenact a contrived story about white guilt through Miss Saigon, but not guilty enough to stop hurting the Vietnamese American community by paying for it. I learned that Asian participation in the telling Miss Saigon has always been conditional.Conditioned on our willingness to play into stereotypes about the sexual availability of Asian women and the tragic Madonna/Whore symbolism of our bodies as lands. Conditioned on the fact that there had to be a massive industry-wide protest to decry the use of yellowface just so Asian American male actors could had a shot at playing a yellow peril, farcical mercenary to the angsty white savior American lead. We are told we should be happy that white audiences are consuming Asian faces and Asian histories, but that too is conditional on tolerating a script that calls Asians “greasy chinks” and Asian women “slits" Theaters like the Ordway can pat themselves on the back for "generating discussion” and how great it is that it is hosting a “public dialogue” with Asian Americans, but that too is conditional on Asian Americans, particularly the Vietnamese American community, having to experience the microaggression of the racist spectacle that is the play itself.If the Asian American community doesn’t shoot itself in the gut, if the Asian American community rejects the Miss Saigon narrative when it comes to our own representation, then *we’re* the problem for not letting white people tell our story, then we’re the racists for not holding our tongues over freedom of oppressive speech without consequences.And then they are surprised when we don’t react like their fictional “Kim,” self-sacrificial and stoic, and willing to kill a bit of our souls for their denouement, so they don’t have to engage with us or face the hurt they’ve created.-MI am a Chinese American man, and this is my truth. My father raised me to respect women, and to be a righteous man. I will not let lies represent me and the experiences of our people. - An Rong XuWe are an Asian American couple, and this is our truth: US imperialism militarizes our families’ homelands, and we struggle side-by-side everyday to end that. Our families have experienced poverty, forced migration, sexual abuse, and violence by US imperialists and US soldiers in the Philippines and Korea. The fight against imperialism starts at home. Together we do our best to uphold gender justice, collectivity, compassion, respect, and revolutionary love. And we plan to pass that on to our future children.-Struggle with JoyI am a mixed race queer Filipino American, and this is my truth: The first and last time I saw Miss Saigon was at a predominantly white high school in Washington. They had no community dialogue about what the play means today. Miss Saigon perpetuates a racist historical narrative that young people take as fact, especially in homogenous areas. No one I know is accurately represented by this play, but some get treated like they are. I am an antiracist out of necessity. Why don’t you care about my truth?  -KDI am a queer mixed Desi woman. This is my truth: you can’t tell me who I am because India is not defined by the Kama Sutra and Bollywood. You can’t own Asian because you call Việt Nam a war instead of a million stories, lives, and loves that you missed. You can’t own woman because I can do that without you. Your excuses about preserving “history” are tired; our stories will never be in your textbooks. -SI am a Cambodian American womyn standing in solidarity. This is my truth: I am not your object of desire. Southeast Asian womyn are strong, resilient, and beautiful. Miss Saigon’s negative portrayal of SEA womyn is offensive and belittles the intelligence and experiences of my fellow Asian womyn.- SuzaI am a Vietnamese American man, and this is my truth: my dad was a veteran of the ARVN, my mother was a refugee, and I am proud to call myself a second generation Vietnamese American. The values and the peoples of both my countries are very dear to me. If Miss Saigon is determined to lie about us, we will be determined to fight for the truth. -JI am a Vietnamese-American man and this is my truth:   My father was a P.O.W. who fought in a war against is his own brothers and sisters. Reeducated by those same brothers and sisters and marked as a “traitor”. My mother was a beautiful lily caught between bullets, blood, and love. In the countryside where her family resided, she decided to leave with my father to escape into the unknown on boats laid with the dead bodies of the hopeful. Riding the river Styx. Not knowing if they are going to a heaven or a different hell. They ended up in Oklahoma. With one language. No money. Only with their lives and their love pushing them through. On October 20th, 1981 I was born. I am the result of their commitments. I am their seven-day a week (work holidays, no vacation) hope. I know their scar riddled hearts. I have their war-tempered anger. I am Californian and was raised in the hood (still here). I am an entrepreneur –artist and my parents hate it. I am proud of my heritage and die for my faith. I am NOT your oriental fetishized stereotype. I won’t take your ignorance and bow down quietly. I am a poet and I’m Asian. So my voice is always loud. Miss Saigon is a paper play. It is a disrespectful parody. It is a farce that cashes in the suffering of generations. It is a lie. But because I stand, I am the truth. I am a Southeast Beast.- Danny “Dandiggity” LeWe are mixed Viet American men, and this is our truth. We are not tragic, not doomed. The women in our family are strong and fiercely loving. They’ve had to be. We will never forget to honor that strength, that love. And we won’t let you forget either.-LMBD, SJMD, GBDI am an adult Vietnamese Amerasian adoptee, and this is my truth. I am no “war waif.” I am no charity case, rescue operation. And, my conception, my birth and my life do not conform to a clichéd Broadway musical storyline for the voyeuristic entertainment of an imperialistic few. I grew up as a Person of Color in a White household and in a majority White community. It has taken me a long time to overcome this society’s messages that my very skin color and presumed ethnic heritage are deficits and roadblocks to being seen as a fully actualized human being. But, I’ve done it; I have overcome.-KI am a Vietnamese/American womyn. This is my truth: The U.S. military is responsible for trauma in our community. It’s involvement in other countries is more oppressive than liberatory. My family struggles to stay together and stay connected as a result of this history. The U.S. didn’t do us a favor and neither does Miss Saigon in its misrepresentation of the truth and misogynistic portrayal of women. -PhuongI am a Vietnamese woman. This is my truth:I am a Queer Vietnamese Adoptee, a survivor of the Việt Nam War.I am a tattooed works-in-progress canvas, who wears her Vietnamese pride in words of “Làm tại Việt Nam” and “Sinh ra là người Việt, sĩ chết là người Việt, luôn luôn là người Việt.”I am real, raw, I am ME and I will not be silenced.~ AÐK
i’m a (retired?) sex worker and miss saigon tells lies about me!i am not dead nor do i wish to die. my experiences in sex work give me power and demonstrate my resilience. sex work was not always good to me and i know for many people sex work is not a matter of choice. rather than honoring the diversity of experiences within sex work by allowing us to tell our own stories from our perspectives, miss saigon does violence to our communities by furthering the genocidal vision of sex work as a clear path to death.i am alive and it is because of sex work. sex work allowed me to take care of and support myself when i had few other options. sex work was not a bleak reality for me, it was my choice and it was the right choice for me at that time. sex work was not an effort to gain a rich, male, white savior to protect me from the world - it was the action i took to save myself.miss saigon propagates a tired and cliche portrayal of sex workers, the same abolitionist portrayal that has resulted in the criminalization, stigmatization, oppression and erasure of sex workers and our stories. rather than spending money to hear more of the inaccurate and messed up messages on sex work and sex workers that are abundantly available for free in mainstream culture, support sex workers telling our own stories, from our own perspectives and our own voices - at a fraction of the cost of a ticket to see miss saigon. i’m participating in a documentary film project where myself and six other sex workers tell stories about our experiences in sex work! learn more about the project here: http://www.redumbrelladiaries.com/or, spend your money to pay for a local sex worker’s time and they will show you what it *really* means to be a sex worker. let me know if you’d like a recommendation for a reputable provider in your area! don’t believe the lies of miss saigon - sex workers are alive and thriving in your community, willing and able to speak our own truths!My name is Linda Hawj. I’m an artist, activist & organizer from Minnesota. As a 2nd generation, Hmong American, queer womyn of color, this is my truth.What kind of Minnesota & country are we living in when Vietnamese people, Southeast Asians & Asian Americans, their history & experiences are compromised & violently eliminated repeatedly? All because White people & White Supremacy cries censorship about their White privilege no longer having the “freedom to express” their racist art. What’s truly sad & horrible is how White Supremacy have & continues to police & control what is Racial Justice & Equity, & the Non-Profit Organizations, leaders, politicians, funders & foundations who do “Racial Justice & Equity work” & serve the Southeast Asian, Asian American & Communities of Color. Your White Supremacy is all the Executives, Presidents, CEOs, Boards, Committees, funders & donors, majority all head by rich, White Privileged people that call the shots in their capitalist, political strategies. 3 Actions You Can Take to Support & Share to Mobilize:1) SUBMIT YOUR TRUTHS HERE: http://dontbuymiss-saigon.tumblr.com/2) SIGN OUR PETITION HERE: http://act.engagementlab.org/sign/DontBuyMissSaigon?source=field3) The Don’t Buy Miss Saigon Coalition is taking both individual and organizational endorsements of its statement to stand in solidarity to end Institutional racism, sexism & colonialism. Contact me or dontbuymisssaigon@gmail.comI am a Chinese American male, and this is my truth: I am a teacher and a scholar in Asian American Studies. I always meet students who tell me that their histories are a thing of the past, their perspectives are biased, and their own stories are not that important. They are told this everyday by their professors and their peers in so many ways; their very personhood is being erased. In my classes, I teach them how to claim their voices, to work collaboratively with others for a just and principled cause, and more importantly, to make art that matters not for its own sake, but for the sake of the communities that are constantly being silenced and erased from history. -MI am a proud, strong, and independent Vietnamese American woman and this is my truth: My parents would not put up with the physical abuse and oppression and fled their only home to find a better life for their children. I will not put up with the verbal abuse and oppression from those who know better and those who don’t. Ignorance is not an excuse, and we cannot continue to let such displays of blatant inaccurate accounts of history and perpetuating stereotypes exist in our world today. I am my father’s daughter and I am my mother’s daughter, and I will not be objectified. Miss Saigon lies. - JNPCarla Vega, Actress/MusicianMiss Saigon and tired narratives like it bore me. Here’s a list of 10* things I’d rather spend my time and money** on, all of which are art or media projects involving non-fictional Vietnamese & Asian American folks, in no particular order:  10. Re-watch the season of MasterChef where Christine Ha gracefully kicks everyone’s ass. P.S. Did you know she also has an MFA in creative nonfiction & fiction?  9. Be transported through the words of writer Monique Truong, author of The Book of Salt and Bitter in the Mouth8. Rock out to an album by the kickass Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, or go see one of their amazing live shows7. Get futuristic with Jennifer Phang’s Advantageous, and check out the feature-length version when it premieres at the local Asian American film festival6. Dissect fashion and beauty and all things zeitgeist with the rad academics who blog at Threadbared5. Get deep feels and laughs reading Sông I Sing, by badass poet Bao Phi4. Visualize stories in An-My Lê’s beautiful photography book Small Wars3. Explore the narrative-driven artwork of Binh Danh, which incorporates photographic techniques with plant-based canvases2. Read MOONROOT, a rad zine about Asian womyn and trans* folks’ bodies and experiences1. Check out an event put on by VAALA and get exposed to all kinds of art and artists you wish you had known about beforeBonus: see a play by David Henry Hwang. To paraphrase a friend, “M. Butterfly is the only retelling of Madame Butterfly I want to see.”  **I had at least 20 more things that I did not have room to add to this list, but clearly there’s a lot of rad Asian American and Vietnamese American art & media out there, so go find it. Or make it yourself.  *pretty much all of these things will cost you less than a ticket to the Ordway Theater. Just sayin’. -CI am a Vietnamese American womyn. This is my truth: I am a child of refugee-immigrant parents. Growing up with a single mother in a working-class household and in a community of fierce womyn, I learned resiliency, determination, and compassion. I do NOT need “Miss Saigon” romanticizing the violence of our displacement, survival, and trauma. I want to celebrate my people, especially my sisters, without “Miss Saigon” horrendously dehumanizing us and dismissing our narratives.-VHI am a 1.5th generation immigrant, Korean American woman.I’m in a relationship with a white man. He was my best friend for 3 years before we started dating. We’ve been together for a year and a half now. I love him very much!This is my truth: because of things like Madam Butterfly, Miss Saigon and more, my relationship with my boyfriend is falsely stereotyped.I’m not dating him because he’s white nor he’s dating me because I’m Asian.He’s not dating me for my sexual obedience or my need to be saved.I’m not dating him to use him for his privilege and wealth.Please stop disrespectfully sensationalizing and romanticizing White male and Asian female relationships.-KI am a Vietnamese American man and this is my truth: My late grandmother was the one strong enough to get my father’s side of the family out of Vietnam before the end of the war. My mother and her side of the family were left to the mercy of a Catholic organization in America in order to get out and come to America. By fate / God’s will, they met and had my sisters me. Even after all those years, we have not once gone to Vietnam. My father still has buried memories he does not wish to bring back up. My parents encourage us to simply do the best we can here, with little emphasis on relearning our cultural heritage or fighting for justice in our communities. This is what their histories have led them to value. But I will continue to fight for a better society that is more conscious of misrepresentation of different races because there is more to life than simply accepting the status quo that Miss Saigon and similar productions perpetuate. Why don’t you care about my truth?i am a Korean American woman and this is my truth: i have fought hard to define myself and claim my identity. i KNOW who i am. i love my Asian Brothers and Sisters. miss saigon is not me; i give you that bull$ish back.-EvaI am a Korean-adopted American man and this is my truth: I grew up in a loving home without a strong, Asian male role model and so I looked to the images presented to me, internalized them. I am learning to see myself more positively represented, but it has been at the cost of my relationship with the loving mother I grew up with. My truth is not unique. Why don’t you care about my truth?-JI’m a Japanese American man and this is my truth:My father’s family was wrongly imprisoned in the Heart Mountain concentration camp. My paternal grandfather ran a dry cleaners before and again after the war.My mother’s family made their way from Hawaii to Brazil and eventually Los Angeles. My maternal grandmother grew up on a farm that is still there today on Oahu. My paternal grandfather worked on a plantation, was a cop, and, with my grandmother, ran a restaurant for years.The stories about my family are essential to me. Racist, sexist, stereotypes and stories feel like a slap in the face to me.I am a queer mixed Asian American man, and this is my truth: my grandfather died at age 50 carrying a name that wasn’t his. My mother spent her teenage years helping him run a corner store in Augusta, Georgia. I once needed thirty stitches in my scalp for being Asian in the wrong part of town. There’s more than enough drama in these stories, and I learn much more from them than I would watching racist musicals that dare to suggest the drama they sell even remotely captures my people’s experiences.-S.I am a Viet American woman. This is my truth: My single mother overcame all odds while bringing me up in post-war Viet Nam. She left her entire family behind when we came to the U.S., and she worked 2-3 jobs while going to community college so that we could have a more secure future. She taught me that I don’t need a White man (or anyone, really) to rescue me. To the producers and writers of Miss Saigon: we Viet women are are survivors, and we are strong beyond your racist, sexist imagination.-QLI am a Vietnamese American man and this is my truth. My parents left all that they knew 38 years ago as refugees of war. Without their strength, courage, and love I would not be the person I am today. Someone who is proud of his heritage, culture and history. Miss Saigon misrepresents the truth of all this I am proud of.  -NTLI am a Vietnamese American man from a working class family, born during the war, and this is my truth: my dad fought on the battlefields of his own country for 10 years for South Vietnam. My mom grows flowers in the hood in America. My entire family was almost killed by nonstop bombing when we fled Vietnam. As an Asian male in America, I am either invisible, or the target of violence and ridicule. Those are my two choices and even then it’s usually not up to me. No one ever asks about the truth of families like mine, yet everyone presumes to know our story, everyone thinks they have the right to tell our communities what’s important and what’s worth fighting for. Those involved in Miss Saigon suggest the play is accurate and respectful - as if we can’t figure out for ourselves when we’re being exploited and maligned. I’ve been protesting this play since I was a teen - I am now a father - I hope our daughter doesn’t have to fight against this play when she grows up. For now, I’ll teach her the chant: Nothing about us without us is for us.  -BI am a Vietnamese American man, and this is my truth: I came to the United States in 1975 through the struggles and sacrifices of my loving parents. They raised me to be respectful of women, even though media and pop culture says that I do not. I am a father to a four month old Vietnamese American baby girl. I will raise her with a level of self respect and love so that she knows that she and the people that surround her are not like the characters in plays like Miss Saigon. Why don’t you care about my truth?-John Minh NguyenI am a Vietnamese Womyn, and this is my truth: I was raised by a resilient Vietnamese refugee mother with a spirit of a survivor. Her struggles and her strength taught me true courage and love. Her callous nail salon working hands put food on the table, a roof over my head and sent her three daughters to graduate UC Berkeley. Because of her - I am me: I am strong. I am independent. I am fierce. I love. & I live her story every day. Her story is my truth.“ - LTI am a queer Vietnamese woman of color. This is my truth: I am a daughter of refugee and immigrant parents from Hai Phong Vietnam. My mother and father risked their lives seeking passage onto a small cargo boat in hopes of a better future. In America, they have struggled and survived. From the unsettling banks of Mississippi to the enduring racism in Austin, Texas of the 1980s, their so-called “American Dream” has played out like a prolonged economic and social nightmare. Still, they are resilient. I have seen and experience no short of the relentless and unnecessary violence against women. I am tired of the constant hi-jacking of my community’s story. I am done with the co-opted cultural appropriations of Asian Pacific Islander women, and really women of all cultures. The sensationalism of “Miss Saigon” is all smoke and mirrors - hollow and empty of the real brut and courageous story of my people. For every dollar made, none of it makes sense.- d.bui