Saigon, USA examines the shifts in the evolving identity of the Vietnamese American community in Southern California twenty five years after the fall of Saigon. These shifts are viewed in the context of recent protests that flashed before the nation's attention in early 1999.
This status quo was jolted in February, 1999 when a Vietnamese American named Truong Van Tran hung a photograph of Ho Chi Minh and a communist Vietnamese flag in his Hi Tek video store. Mr. Tran's actions provoked dramatic demonstrations among Vietnamese Americans that reverberated in Orange County.
The strength of the Vietnamese Americans' response showed the deeply felt issues and passions that still mark this community in exile. The protests against a picture and a flag and the communist regime that they represent have ultimately led to the tantalizing possibility of unifying and organizing the community for greater civic participation and political empowerment in the United States.
Saigon, USA explores the dynamics of the Hi Tek protests in the context of the history of Vietnamese immigration to California: why Mr. Tran felt compelled to place the provocative photograph and flag in his store; why people reacted so passionately; and how the groundswell of Vietnamese outrage was reshaped to fit into an American context through the use of peaceful protests, demonstrations and media strategies.