All posts filed under: Education and Development

APAHM and The Erasure of Laotian America

By Vimala D. Phongsavanh, Organizing Director of Congressional Progressive Caucus Center When a crisis as enormous as a global pandemic emerges, it hits underrepresented and underserved communities like the Laotian American communities the hardest. We currently see the gaps in our country’s broken systems that weren’t built to serve those of us who need it the most.  Since our arrival as refugees to the country in the late 1970s, Laotian American communities have seen firsthand how this country can break your heart, but resilience in the face of tragedy has been built in us, and we continue forward. The pathway to becoming a Laotian American started with America’s Secret War in Laos, which resulted in Laos being the most heavily bombed country per capita in the history of the world. Many of us were forced to flee for our lives and were welcomed to the U.S. by failing refugee resettlement programs, which marshalled many of us into low wage jobs with no health insurance, sick leave, or other benefits. The next generation of Laotian Americans …

MIA Erasure, My Reflection

To much fanfare, the exhibit Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975 opened in Minnesota at the Minneapolis Institute of Art this month and will run until January 5th, 2020. It’s billed as a way to look at “the innovative ways artists talked back, often in the streets and other public venues. The exhibition presents nearly 100 works by 58 of the period’s most visionary, provocative artists.” For Southeast Asians of Vietnamese, Hmong, Laotian, and Cambodian descent, and active military veterans, you can even see the exhibit for free. It’s been a long time since I’ve been given free admission to an art exhibit to witness the complete erasure of my community’s perspective and reactions to the Vietnam War, the Secret War, and the Killing Fields. For Minnesotans, who arguably have one of the most deeply tangled relationships with Southeast Asia than almost any other US state, this ought to be a stirring and profound exhibit: one filled with so many heartbreaking memories and reflections on themes and issues addressed over four decades ago, …