Bui DoiFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bui doi refers to Vietnamese street children, especially the Amerasian offspring American soldiers and Vietnamese mothers abandoned at the end of the Vietnam War. The phrase translates as "uncared for child," literally "living dust." It is intended to bring to mind an image of a child abandoned and moving about aimlessly like dust. In Vietnamese, it has no racial connotation. Its application to mixed race children was popularized by the 1989 musical Miss Saigon. Vietnamese refer to Amerasians as My lai (mixed American and Vietnamese), con lai (mixed-race child), or nguoi lai (mixed-race person).
The majority of mixed race in post-Vietnam war were Amerasians or children of Vietnamese mothers and military or civilian men from the United States. Amerasians born during the Vietnam War (1965-1975) were often a result of long-term unions or rape. However, because of the large sex industry brought on by the military economy, Amerasians are predominantly seen as off-springs of GI fathers and prostitute mothers. Life was difficult for the Amerasian; they existed as pariahs in Vietnamese society. Under the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1988, a Vietnamese Amerasian could obtain a U.S. visa on the basis of appearance alone. Amerasians gained the attention of con artists who claimed to be their relatives in the hope of obtaining visas. About 23,000 Amerasians immigrated to the U.S. under this act.
In the United States, bui doi or the term "dust of life" once again is referred to criminal class where many of these youth included newly transplanted Vietnamese and Amerasians. The misuse of the word bui doi also immigrated to the United States and was appropriated by the mainstream. Hence, you see the term bui doi referring to Amerasians and featured in popular cultural productions such as in the musical Miss Saigon. The movie The Beautiful Country (2004) describes the life of a fictional bui doi and his efforts to become reunited with his American father. Straight to Hell, a 1982 song by The Clash, also deals with the problem of Amerasian children in Saigon.
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