Changing Little Saigon Through Art?

January 19, 2009

One of the organizers said that they hoped to change Little Saigon
through art, which I took to mean to have an open discussion about
politics via art. Many of the staunch anti-communists are still
going strong and came out to protest this exhibit, and I guess you
could say, were successful in shutting it down. On the flip side,
the curators were able to garner some media attention about the
exhibit. I hope the artists continue to show their work, and find other
forums for exhibiting their art. As an outsider, the artwork -- based
on the photos and descriptions -- seemed intriguing. 

It is an oft-noted irony that within our country, where people came for freedom
and other rights, that the right to free speech is still lacking in
this particular community. It does seem that some folks are trying to
push the boundaries of discussion, but that others in the
community aren't ready to hear it.

Thoughts? It seems that every so often, we hear about these protests
-- about a decade ago, it was the video store owner who had a photo of
Ho Chi Minh. Then various Vietnamese newspapers being protested for one
thing or another. And more recently in San Jose, it's the ongoing
debacle of naming a district, with councilmember Madison Nguyen thrown
in the fire (according to one person,
Ly Tong, the man who led the hunger strike against Madison Nguyen is
the same guy who spray painted the artwork in the Little Saigon
exhibit). This article in the OC Register on the exhibit also has a good rundown of recent protests. 



Momo Chang

Senior Contributing Editor

Momo Chang is the Content Manager at the Center for Asian American Media, and freelances for magazines, online publications, and weeklies. Her writings focus on Asian American communities, communities of color, and youth culture. She is a former staff writer at the Oakland Tribune. Her stories range from uncovering working conditions in nail salons, to stories about “invisible minorities” like Tongan youth and Iu Mien farmers. She has freelances The New York Times, WIRED, and East Bay Express, among other publications.