#FlashbackFridays: Kmao

(High pitched Shriek)
She grips her shirt, eyes dilate
Backward steps as she contemplates her fate
She blinks, cannot believe her own eyes
The devil is nigh
Towering over her 6 foot two

Gargantuan, charcoal skinned, unkempt luring her in with his…smile
That evil grin and soft words barely distinguishable over the din
Of her heart racing, as she contemplates her sins
And asks for forgiveness, she’s too young too die!
So she turns tail and runs, screaming loud


A tear caresses my brothers cheek
This is not what he expected stopping at the gas station for a bite to eat
Why was the little girl so frightened?
Why did she look she’d seen death? Her eyes whitened, her chest tightened
All he had done was smile, and say hi, this made no sense

He’d been practicing his Khmer… this made no sense
What about him could induce such fear… this made no sense
What differentiated him from the taxi man down the road… this made no sense
Kmao Kmao…This made no sense

Flipping channels, bored to death
Stumble across a local Cambodian TV show, with black people? PAUSE
Wait a second.. no. Those aren’t black people
They are Cambodians painted black, that’s rather rude
Why are they… wait a second those aren’t people,  those are demons, that’s rather crude
The scared villagers… running away from the demons and the one thing they have to say is:
Kmao Kmao

Is it racism? Or is it ignorance?
Does my brother have any justification at getting angry at the little girl, or should he be angry at her parent’s negligence?
Should he be angered by the culture which demonizes the coulour black and everything associated with it?
Angry at being seen at the devil all because of a simple pigment?
Angry that everywhere we go one word always follows us
A mantra in the background, a chorus haunting us
Kmao Kmao

Angry that we will always be labeled and singled out for something we cannot control

Or angry that Kmao in English is black

Welcome to another #FlashbackFridays! This piece was written and performed when I was invited to the Justice Cafe which aimed to raise awareness of social justice issues through poetry. Before this point, I had never really written poetry about social justice issues and most of my poetry focused on internal issues of identity that I struggle with. So I decided to write about something particularly poignant to me, my experiences  with social justice issues during an incredibly formative of my life, in the incredible country of Cambodia where my family used to live. And I got a badass picture in the school newspaper as a result


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