In honor of this day of remembrance: April 17, 1975
Is the change I seek revolutionary? Is every revolution going to require bloodshed? When “The Revolution” comes will I be able to take my mother and father with me? And what about my children? The Revolution did come to us. On April 17, 1975 the revolution marched into Phnom Penh. It emptied out the city. Nearly every single family in Cambodia suffered losses during the time of the Khmer Rouge. An estimated 2 million Cambodians died. There is no exact body count.
I was too young to be recruited as a child soldier. In 1975, The People’s Revolutionary Party instead enlisted me in the fields where I would pick up cow dung. The unrelenting sun scorched my hair a shiny amber.1978 my mother almost died giving birth to my brother. There were no doctors or nurses in their commune. Professionals, intellectuals, former government officials, and religious figures were targeted for torture and execution. Kindness spared my father who would have otherwise been executed for being a teacher and a Muslim. The oppressive Khmer Rouge regime lasted 3 years, 8 months and 20 days. In 1979 when the borders reopened, my family was forced to leave Cambodia for the nearest Thai refugee camp. Survival is an instinct the body remembers well. On June 30, 1979, my family left the Thai camps for America. I do not need to have memories of violence to know that the experience of genocide has never left my body.
My parents never left me behind even when the Revolution left us with nothing. The change I seek has to include my family even if their politics differ from mine. The change I seek must be rooted in love. I believe that you can’t serve your people if you don’t love your people. Acts of violence can never be acts of love.”
I think that Suey has displayed over the last year an unwillingness to discover the community. This, I think, has very little to do with her age, and everything to do with hubris. She arrived on the scene and believed she was the first, because she didn’t know the things she didn’t know. She doesn’t know who we are and what we have done, and further never expressed interest in finding out. I fundamentally believe she didn’t know who Michelle Malkin was, and had no idea about the internment book; it was published when she was 13.
It’s not that anyone needs to kiss the ring. You don’t have to like your elders or not want to forge a different path, but you should know of their existence. You should know the people who are around you, doing work in your vicinity. You should have the wherewithal to situate yourself in this thing that is larger than yourself. Most of us at some point did that, and we did it when we were Suey’s age.
There is a huge part of me that really wants to give Suey a benefit of a doubt. Still. Even after all this. Monday’s Colbert Report show was equal parts hysterical and horrifying to me; I would NOT want to be pilloried on national television at the age of 23 for doing something I might regret by the age of 33.
But I think ultimately Jeff is right. We all started in our early 20’s, and we all did it with the brashness and idealism of youth. It’s not that Suey is young, or queer, or a woman of colour. It’s that she has a very rigid idea of “how things should be”, and I just don’t think that’s conducive to community organizing.
There are some of her followers who are comparing Suey to Yuri Kochiyama for doing anti-blackness work. I don’t think the parallel could be farther off. Yuri and her contemporaries were about listening to people, and about trying to sow harmonic disagreement; basically, finding ways to bring people’s disparate identities towards common goals while still maintaining distinctiveness. I like to think that the AAM — which is the legacy we’re now maintaining, folks — is all about that message of finding momentary political harmony in dissonance. I like to think that under other circumstances, Suey would’ve found a home among us other bloggers. It’s sad to me that she rejected what could have been in favour of this hate-fueled rhetoric that seems to categorize people’s importance based solely on their -isms.
Y’all, I’ve held back from posting about Suey because of my own complicated former friendship with her. But I’ve seen too many people hurt and too much bullying and harassment to stay quiet. Here is some excellent commentary from one of my mentors that I wanted to share.
"Whose World Is This" -Jody Loud and Son Child
lead single from Jody Loud’s 2013 mixtape ‘The Last Summer’ soundcloud.com/jodyloud Directed by Marlo A. Custodio
Don’t tell me women are not the stuff of heroes,
I alone rode over the East Sea’s winds for ten thousand leagues.
My poetic thoughts ever expand, like a sail between ocean and heaven.
I dreamed of your three islands, all gems, all dazzling with moonlight.
I grieve to think of the bronze camels, guardians of China, lost in thorns.
Ashamed, I have done nothing; not one victory to my name.
I simply make my war horse sweat. Grieving over my native land
hurts my heart. So tell me; how can I spend these days here?
A guest enjoying your spring winds?