All posts filed under: Iu-Mien and Khmu

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 …

Visiting Dad

Sitting in the front seat of Mom’s white 96 Civic. It’s a baking hot Folsom day. Beads of sweat smear across my forehead as I reach to readjust my hair–a matted mess from the almost two-hour-long drive I fight every urge within me to throw a fit. I’m trying not to get restless or bored–we came too far for this. On any other day I’d go through with it but today, I have chosen to preserve my energy. “Vo… Van… Villapan?” the white lady officer stutters. We all get up. Mom flashes a look at her, too weary to correct her again from the last time. “Make sure there’s nothing in your pockets,” she warns me and sis. The seat on the bus sticks to my skin. I glance up at Mom as she she quietly stares off into the distance. We rumble past towering old stone buildings One, two, three… I count the windows, squinting my eyes to see if I can catch a glimpse of anyone inside The bus screeches to a stop …