All posts tagged: Bryan Thao Worra

White Parasols and White Supremacy

This is part of a series on racism, imperialism, colonialism and white supremacy and its history and impact on the Lao community.  In the Lao tradition white elephants and white parasols signified supreme power of royal families. These days, Laos doesn’t typically come up in conversations on modern white supremacy despite our occupation by the French during the Indochina era (1887-1954). Might our history consciously and subconsciously affect our approach to  social justice and civic engagement? Many may feel our opinions  and experience are unimportant. Few ask how we will either resist or support the rise of white supremacy, especially the 230,000 of us in the US. Considering there are at least 917 hate groups in the US in 2017 according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, with many operating in states with some of the highest concentrations of Laotian refugees, this should be an issue. Laos has an interesting connection with one of the leaders of white supremacy. In 1971, a young David Duke came to Vientiane in the summer to help his father’s …

RECAP: 2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference in Little Cambodia

For many, Lowell might not be the first city that comes to mind when it comes to the Southeast Asian diaspora that began over 40 years ago with the end of the Vietnam War. But this industrial town is home to the second largest Khmer community in the United States as well as many Lao, Hmong, and Vietnamese. And it’s here that hundreds gathered recently for the 2017 Southeast Asian American Studies Conference at the University of Massachussetts Lowell. This was my first visit ever to Lowell in my 26 years as a poet, and it was eye-opening to see what a thriving Khmertown can look like, with well-kept shops, restaurants and community organizations such as the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association rebuilding their lives and preserving their traditions as best they can. This isn’t to say there aren’t challenges. The community has very clear stakes in immigration reform and education reform, as seen in many of the topics that drew the most attention during the conference. Stretching over three days, the conference has been working …