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Van Troi Anti-Imperialist Brigade, anti-Vietnam War march, New York, 1972. The war in Vietnam had a significant impact on many Asian Americans because the enemy was an Asian people; many Americans thought that all Asians looked the same.
Photo by Bob Hsiang.

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Growing Up in Turmoil: Thoughts on the Asian American Movement


Around 1966, the war in Vietnam began to take on a serious escalation. Many young men my age were being drafted and sent to fight against a bloody, guerrilla-style war in the jungles of Vietnam only to return in wooden caskets. At first, I regarded this as a necessary sacrifice to prevent the "domino theory," which dictated that Communist insurgency must be contained in order to save the "free world."

My notions of a just war were challenged as I witnessed the bloody events unfold on nightly television and saw the mounting tension in the country. I noticed many of my peers undergoing a similar re-evaluation of the U.S. intervention and the pressing domestic issues that were facing our generation -- the treatment of people of color including Native Americans, the inequalities of wealth and power, i.e., the class nature of the society, and the growing sense of urgency that the war had generated.

[In November 1967, I went to my] first anti-war march, and it galvanized my beliefs toward my country's foreign policy. The sheer terror of that event, which included being tear-gassed and cornered by the police at the entrance of the Pentagon, was surreal and a fitting reflection of the overwhelming military power and will of this country.

My life was changed forever after that night.

[01 Transforming Ourselves]     [02 Not Without Struggle]     [03 Serve the People]
[04 Listening to the Small Voice]     [05 The Big Picture]     [06 Revolution]
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