Dear SEARAC Community,
Six months ago, my husband and I became first-time parents.
In the middle of the pandemic, we welcomed into the world Khải Toyonori Ross.
In Vietnamese, Khải means victory, and in Japanese, Kai means ocean.
We wanted to connect him to both his Vietnamese and Japanese roots so that he would always know where he came from. So that he would always remember he is a descendant of refugees.
Across the country this month, Southeast Asian American communities remember our legacy as refugees.
We remember the Fall of Phnom Penh.
We remember the Fall of Saigon.
And we remember the beginning of the mass exodus of Hmong, Lao, and other Lao ethnic minorities from Laos.
Together, we remember as an act of love, to honor the millions of family members who did not survive at sea, on land, or crossing rivers.
Together, we remember as an act of resilience, to name the history that made us who we are, histories of immense trauma and tragedy that make us warriors for freedom and peace.
Together, we remember as an act of advocacy, to make sure these histories are never forgotten. Whether that is by demanding accountability from VICE News for their article that assaults the souls of family members tragically taken away through the Khmer Rouge regime. Or by urging our elected officials to overhaul systems of oppression that have led to continued displacement, including the deportation of 33 members of the Vietnamese refugee community earlier this year. Or by passing state resolutions that call for Cambodian Genocide Memorial Week so that our nation never forgets the atrocities of war and the need for deep healing from these wounds that exist today.
We remember for Khải and Khải’s generation, so that they know that our presence is our victory. Our victory to call for our right to be seen, our right to heal, and our right to family.
In this remembrance month, I am holding Khải tight and thanking him for teaching me how to dream and how to love in ways unimaginable.
In this remembrance month, we remember that we are our ancestors’ wildest dreams.
In community and partnership,