Project Yellow Dress (PYD) grew out of a desire to create a platform for the Southeast Asian diaspora to have a voice and to build community through our shared heritages and histories. The name is inspired by the yellow dress our main character wears in our future children’s book about the Vietnamese Boat People experience.
Growing up as the children of refugees, we heard only bits and pieces about how our families escaped Vietnam and came to America; it was rarely ever discussed outright at home or at school. While every U.S. and world history class covered the Vietnam War, none of the textbooks ever outlined in detail what it was like for Southeast Asians before, during, and after the war, instead focusing on the experiences of American soldiers and never really addressing what happened after the Fall of Saigon. We think Vietnamese director of Journey From the Fall, Ham Tran, explained this discrepancy best when he remarked about how difficult it was to find information to write his film, and in doing so stressed how important any work related to this subject is: “The short chapter in American history books about the Vietnam War ends on April 30, 1975, the day American forces pulled out of Vietnam. Our story begins where the history books end.”
A few years ago, we attended a film screening at the Jewish Community Library in San Francisco. On display outside the lecture hall were several books about the Holocaust, including a children’s book titled, Benino and the Night of the Broken Glass. It was at that very moment that we became inspired to write a children’s book as well, but this one about the often-forgotten and neglected story of Vietnamese Boat People. PYD was created shortly thereafter.
Our goal for PYD is to be a space that highlights the histories, voices, and experiences of the Southeast Asian diaspora. We want people to see how diverse, nuanced, and resilient we are. We want to introduce everyone to incredible SEA artists and writers, and to spotlight individuals and organizations working to get us a seat at the table. We want to create a safe space for people to talk about issues that affect us, and inspire one another to rise up and effect change. We want to build community by finding commonalities among us, but also celebrating what makes us unique. We want being Southeast Asian, children of refugees, and children of immigrants to be points of pride. 💛
We hope that you will join us in our efforts, be it by sharing your or your family’s story, contributing to our projects, becoming an ally, joining our team, or helping us spread the word. Together, we believe we can accomplish something incredibly meaningful.