Why This Woman Wrote a Play About People of Color’s Christmas Experiences

“I was picked to go in front of the class and I had to share why my family couldn’t afford those things – and I just started crying in front of the class.”

By Joy DiazDecember 2, 2016 2:14 pm,

Christine Hoang identifies herself in many ways. She’s an attorney by day, artist by night and a mom and wife 24/7. She shares why she wrote and directed a play that was very personal to her in her own words.

I’m also a first-generation Vietnamese American.

I founded ColorArc Productions. I did the scariest thing, which is do a Christmas play last year. It was called “People of Color Christmas: The White Elephant in the Room“. It’s a holiday comedy.

It started off with a memory of pain. In the third grade one of my teachers – we came back from Christmas break and she told the entire class, your assignment today is to write an essay on what you got for Christmas and read it. It was the most terrifying assignment I ever received because I didn’t get anything fancy. I got a handheld pencil sharpener.

All my other classmates got really fancy things. Boomboxes, at the time, were really big – so boomboxes with a dual cassette tape or something like that. Or jewelry or toys or a bike or something.

I was picked to go in front of the class and I had to share why my family couldn’t afford those things. I just started crying in front of the class.

But that’s not what Christmas is supposed to be about.

In Vietnamese culture, the big celebration is New Year’s. For Lunar New Year it’s everyone’s birthday. That’s when they give red envelopes to kids with money and everyone celebrates and everyone eats, and everyone pops firecrackers.

Christmas was more if you were Catholic in Vietnam. It’s a time to go to church – the period of reverence, of remembering Christ’s birth.

That story wasn’t on stage, but it was a seed to what fueled the mission. … We all have our own moments of pain, periods in childhood where you feel like – especially if you’re a child of immigrants – a misfit toy, where you don’t fit in with all of the reindeer because you look different because your nose is red like Rudolph’s. That’s the stuff that I identified with.

But I wanted to overcome that and show that we’re in a room full of friends who can now look back and laugh about it.

[The play] got good acclaim. I feel like I’m on a quiet mission to do something and I’m gonna keep doing it.