Written by: Janit Von Saechao
In pristine-white Portland,
I am seen as progressive for being
a person with brown skin yet
privy to this piece of my identity.
What they don’t know is that
when I say,
“My name is Janit Saechao
and my pronouns are she/they.”
She, as in We
We, the ones assigned women
while given no words for otherwise.
We, as in all the non-men who have
wondered which is the better way to survive–
to silence ourselves for centuries of tradition
or to speak our truths and risk our lives.
They, as in Us
They, as in those who came before me.
They, as in all my ancestors who
listened to Their own hearts
and trusted Their own beings.
They are my chain smoking Khmu aunties in Laos
who puff tobacco through hand rolled cigarettes,
laughing on the sides of dusty Luang Prabang roads
at the colonizers with cameras who won’t leave Them alone.
They are my single Mien femmes in America
making more money than all the men calling Their phones.
The people at church gossip, saying They’re bad luck
But They know, no amount of dowry can bring Them love.
She is my sister, mixed Khmu and Mien.
Her dreams are prophetic, so She listens to Them.
She tells bad dad jokes rocking a shaved sidecut
and Her version of love transcends touch.
She/they, means I carry all my people with me.
She/they, means possibility.
She, as in me. They, as in me.