All posts filed under: Community Events

The goings-on within the Laotian community

She/They

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.” I mean 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 …

Conversations with Sarky: The Early Years

This is Part One in a series about Lao American music artist, Sarky Mekmorakoth. Music has always been an integral part of my life. I fell into it escaping from the harsh realities of being a 1st gen immigrant child of refugees: out of place, out of time. I found out just how much power it holds, too. Sometimes the electric charge was filled with feverish euphoria and other times, just an echoing sadness filled by gravity-induced silence, and everywhere in between. Early on, it was my light at the end of the tunnel–the constant melody that sang to me about my worth, filling that primal need for hope within me with hollow, deep, bass-filled down beats. About the only thing that could compare to my love of music and its magic, was my insatiable love of books. If music gave me hope, books and stories showed me what could be waiting if I persevered. In the mid-80s, when I first discovered Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” it became my anthem. I didn’t know …