Before college, I had always been Vietnamese—not Vietnamese American. I grew up in a predominantly Asian neighborhood in San Jose. Crispy fried catfish atop rice and bittersweet cafe sua da were not objects of Western fascination. Elderly Vietnamese men gambling in the park were not sociological phenomena. Diversity wasn’t a slogan; it was a lived reality.
My “coffee name” is Sarah. Though I suppose it’s more like an “ordering food or drink” name because I’m one of those weird specimens who doesn’t drink coffee. Sarah is an easy name to pronounce, and an easy name to spell. It’s also, technically, my middle and English name – but calling me by that name usually ensues in a strong talking-to or a slap (depending how well I know the person). Sarah is not my name.