23rd #AllAmerican Portrait: Phi

First name: Phi

What does it mean to be American?

For me, being American means learning how to hold two completely contradictory narratives in one space.  It means trying to reconcile the ideals of justice, freedom, and equality to which we aspire with the reality that  our country is built and sustained on slavery, white supremacy, and erasure of people of color.  It means being grateful to the strangers who welcomed my refugee family to America with open arms and uplifted by their kindness while still deep down recognizing that this country has never wholly belonged to me. 

What makes America great? 

To the extent that we can call America “great,” what makes it great are the people who never give up the fight to make our country a little kinder, a little more just, a little more inclusive—those who push, despite everything, to keep narrowing the chasm between what America aspires to be and what America actually is.



Occupation: Attorney

What is your race/ethnicity? Vietnamese American

Where did you grow up? Georgia, USA


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