By distancing herself from other Vietnamese, Hannah suggests that the negative images of Vietnamese perpetuated in the majority culture do not apply to her. She reveals that her perceptions have been shaped by the internalization of derogatory notions of her ethnic group. Asked about these stereotypes, Hannah views coethnics as confirmatory examples. She said

It doesn’t bother me because a lot of Vietnamese people I’ve seen are like that, at least from my high school. That’s why I believed it so I didn’t want to be a part of it. I didn’t want to be associated with that.

As these cases illustrate, the assimilated and biculturals rely on intraethnic othering and the social borders they generate to telegraph their cultural affiliation with the white-dominated mainstream. Border crossing carries the risk of being misidenified and denigrated as a “FOB,” or a foreigner, and having one’s Americanized status go unrecognized. In fact, the assimilated were more likely than the ethnically traditional to describe the risks of border crossing as shame, embarrassment, and downward social mobility. This mirrors the racial hierarchy of the larger societ, with higher status accorded those who are aligned with whites.


Pyke and Dang

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