Posts tagged southeast asian.

Dear Young Man of Color

By Fong Tran

Dear Young Man of Color,

I want to begin this letter by saying that I’m sorry
I’m sorry because statistically speaking….

you will become a statistic

that numbers about you and your kind
will run off
like the dates, names, numbers and descriptions
of newspaper Obituaries

Latino males ages Ten to Twenty Four
Nineteen times more likely to be murdered than White counterparts
Two point one million inmates in the prison
Forty point one percent% of them are made up of African Americans
Thirty Nine point six percent% of Southeast Asian Males drop out of high school

You will be America’s most wanted
because you will be America’s most hated stereotype
Thug, Thief, Delinquent, terrorist
murderer, criminal, felon, hoodlum, Gangbanger, Ex-con, Etc.
you will be every policemen’s profile description

They use everything about you, against you
first it was eugenics and they said it was in your genes
then they blamed your hip-hop culture and not the crack dope fiends
but the music was to liberate us
then told control of it
now all it does is break our trust
man, we used to believe in it
then Miley Cyrus appropriated everything
and starting twerking on it

And you’re probably thinking
how’s this Asian kid hood enough
you’re confused
why this model minority
is telling you about oppression
but trust me when I say
there is nothing model about my life
section 8 housing, welfare checks and food stamps
becomes my families helicopter dropped foreign aid
and trust me when I say
that there nothing more gangsta
than have parents that hustle loaves of bread
in destitute Pilipino refugee camps for 8 months

But you see they try to pit us against each other

They force us to play oppression Olympics
but this shit is more like the hunger games
and people are looking to assassinate you
that even though you bear historical scars of slavery
and fucked up immigrant policy
you will be hunted down
they will be coming in packs
and you struggle with minimum wage rags
to hold back the bleeding
they will be coming like the angry villagers
and you will be their needle in their haystacks
and prison industrial complex is the testament
how they will burn the whole house just to get to you

But you will be resilient
you will overcome
that even though everything
will be against you
you are exactly what this world needs
they put you behind bars
just so you wouldn’t raise it
let me make it clear
that even though you start from the bottom
you change society beyond here

you must be the unexpected
the underdog
the unforeseen
the unruly
you will break the molds
Shake status quo,
deconstruct the powers that be
that even though we’ve had innocent fallen
soldiers like Trayon Martin, Fong Le, Jose Montoya
you follow the blood lines and legacy of
Che Cavara, Malcolm X and Richard Aoki

you are destined beyond the statistics that binds you down
it is all a facade, a mirage in the distance
made to hide your greatness

but you will be a champion
you will not let this world change you

you will change this world


Brother from another Mother

Dropping a new Spoken Word/ Interview Video by The Fifth Productions. Shout outs to Julie, Howard, and UC Irvine SASA community for having me down in SoCal to keynote at their first Southeast Asian Graduation and for me to do my craft! #Honored and #humbled

Humbled and grounded

Long rant/story about my plans and future and insirations in my life. I’d been thinking alot lately.

So Fong asked me what do i want to do after the Navy. 
I told em that i wanna save enough money to open my own Dance Studio.
And if i didnt save enough, i’ll go for another maybe 2 years and then come back and open my own dance studio and find a Job and hold Dance Competitions and have free dance sessions and workshops.
I love my Sacramento community and it would be nice if the whole Community knew what Hiphop Dancing was.
When i grow up all i want to do is give to my Sac Community.
I learned best from the Best Mentor ever.
He dedicates his life to the Youngins and Youths, 
I should too, through Dancing!
I want the To Show the people who looked down on me and said that i will never make it and put me down that i can do it and i will. 
I want to be an Impact in the Community. 
I’ll come back and become a Mentor, Dance Teacher and most definitely i want to be an Inspiration in peoples life.
Everything i do, i always do it for others.
Why do i want to open my own dance studio and give free dance sessions and workshops and open competitions? 
I want to open a Dance studio for free sessions because i know that people are more motivated when they’re not at home and also when others dancers see’s that you’re struggling, they will probably help and assist you and thats what i want. Dancers helping eachother. I learned this through Self-experience so i know how it feels.
Why i want to have free dance workshops is because not all family can afford for their kids to take dance classes and wrkshops. And they will have to wait for a long time and not get a chance to ever learn.
I know that feeling because i’ve also been through it until my 12th grade year when i started joining crews.
I want to give people the chance to learn and grow and seeing people happy makes me happy. And through this experience, hopefully everyone in Sacramento knows how to dance and start alot of crews here in sacramento.
Why i want to hold competitions is because i want crews and people to show what they’ve learned and show their competitive side and let their name be crowned. Choreography and freestyling competitions.
And then i want to be a Mentor just like my 3 Favorite, Best and Only mentors Nai, Millie and Fong. 
While growing up i was hanging out with Bad people and didnt know which path to take until i met these 3 who changed my life forever. 
They’ve inspired me to be Proactive and chase my Dream, and not chase what people tell me to chase.
Actually, im leading it by still being a youth and a student and learning about the community through events and workshops. 
Fong, he made it into the Front Page NEWS! 
What an inspiration!
Thats something to look forward to.
Being known in the community as an inspiration and as a Very good person, i bet it’s such a Great feeling.
But i learned from the Best that no matter how many awards and medals you recieve, keep it hungry for more and more and never be comfortable that you’re good enough or you’ve gotten enough, just keep going for more.
So i want to be an Impact to the Sac Community when i grow up.
If it wasnt for my Mentors and Friends and Family, mostly Mentors.. I wouldnt have this much confidence in myself to pursue my dream and goals.
And if it wasnt for Alvin, i probably wouldnt have plan going to the Navy.
Hopefully i get in!
If not, my goals and dreams are still the same. But just go to college and work for the $$$ to open my studio.
Fong kept bringing this subject up so it had me thinking alot about my plans and future.

- Chuey Thao, High School Senior at School of Engineering and Sciences

gagaknives: An Apology to My Mother/Sorry Ma ›

A poem that simply defines truth not matter how hard it may come


Sorry for the long wait! But my writing process is extremely slow…when I write, I let my words and ideas come to me, I try not to force them out, and I try to get as much as I can into one piece to make it feel really complete. But anyway. Here is my latest piece, just finished it a few minutes…

Fierce Urgency of Now

My name is Fong Tran and I’m currently the Program Coordinator in the Center Community School Partnership under the UC Davis School of Education. I’m a proud graduate of UC Berkeley and received a degree in Social Welfare and doubled minor in education & public policy. Raised by a strong-willed, single mother with 4 other siblings, I grew up in low income, subsidized housing under government assistance and food stamps. I was one of only three students from my high school to attend UC Berkeley so many would consider me a success story from the disadvantaged hood of South Sacramento.


My older brother, however walked a much different path. He grew up as non-English speaking refugee from the context of the Vietnam War. He, my mother and my 2 older siblings escaped Vietnam and lived in the refugee camps of the Philippines for more than 8 months until they were sponsored to America. As a teenager, he was out-casted for being a foreigner and he found it hard to keep up in school. Because he couldn’t speak English, he couldn’t find a job. He turned to the gang life for money and self-respect. He dropped out by the tenth grade and was incarcerated three times. Luckily, this was before the three strikes law was instituted otherwise I don’t know where my brother would be. After his third sentence, a family friend decided to invest in my brother’s vocational training and now, he is a successful contractor with a girlfriend and a beautiful 1 year old daughter.


Looking back, he and I were no different in intelligence, skills and or parental upbringing. The one factor that differentiated our life paths was that I had opportunities and resources that he never had. I had mentors that believed in me and programs that nurture my leadership and skills. Someone decided to invest in my brother 3 jail terms too late. After dropping out. After being gang involved and incarcerated. After many family heartaches. We, as the State of California cannot make the same mistake. We cannot think to make the investment later when the most effective time to believe in our young men of color is right now.


Today, I am a community organizer for the Boys and Men of Color Partnership in Sacramento. I help young men discouraged by zero tolerance school discipline policies, previous gang members, homeless and foster youth with opportunities that they have been denied from for so long. These opportunities include leadership conferences, employment work programs and personal mentorship. In a time when young men of color are three times more likely to drop out of school, be out of work or be incarcerated, we must provide more opportunities and break down more barriers than ever. The issue only continues to manifest as the economy makes jobs more competitive and unattainable for underprivileged communities. By the year 2018, two thirds of all jobs will require a college degree or additional training after high school, which only means breaking barriers for men of color more urgent. I whole-heartedly believe that investing in youth is the greatest form of social change but as Dr. Martin Luther King would say we must “remind America of the fierce urgency of now”.


This is my submission for the KVIE Perspective California Report Commentaries Project.

"I Hate Being Vietnamese" by Fong Tran

Vid Credits go to Dou Her

I Hate Being Vietnamese

I hate being Vietnamese
By Fong Tran

June 16, 2012

I hate being Vietnamese
Cause growing up
every Vietnamese dude in my neighborhood
Was trying to that same cigarette smelling,
hair slicked back, White T, Baggy Jean wearing
gangster wanna-be
that had asian stereotypical tattoo of that
Dragon clashing with the phoenix, or some sort of big ass Koi fish
or a Chinese Character on his shoulder that stood for Strength or honor
Homie – that’s not even our language

I hate being Vietnamese
Cause growing up
Every Vietnamese dude
Had the same car
Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Honda Prelude, Honda Hatchback, Honda something
Maybe an Acura Integra, Maybe
But that’s still made by Honda but whatever I digress
The most important part
That yo rice rocket had to be lowered
on to some 15 inch silver spider plastic rims
And I hated how they had to go up on speed bumps at an angle
so they didn’t have to scraped the chassis
I hated how everyone could talk about cars but me
you got to get the S300 Intake manifold turbo
"Uhh….no. What the hell is that?"

I hated being Vietnamese
Cause growing up
Every Vietnamese dude
Had the same hair cut
And they were all inspired by Dragonball Z
Either you the Goku Super Saiyan Spikey hair
Or the slicked all the way back
glistening from quarter of a pound of gel
with the golden Gohan bangs in front
Or the Trunks split down the middle drew
Or the bulma bowl cut hair
Or you look like Kirlin and you were just bald
Apparently all true Vietnamese gangsters
had dragon ballz haircut

I hate being Vietnamese
We all smell like fish sauce and Pho
You can’t be going to the club
You can’t be going to Ket Mo Ree
smelling up like fish sauce
Its not a good look, bro

I hate being Vietnamese
Cause the Vietnamese men that I knew
Either smoked too much
Gambled too much
dranked too much
got shot up too much
abandoned me to be on own too much
like my cousins
like my uncles
like my brothers
like their friends
like my own father

I hated being Vietnamese
Cause all the Vietnamese men in my life
Beat the Vietnamese womyn that I loved in my life
like my big sister
like my brother’s girlfriends
like my own mother

I hated being Vietnamese
Cause being Vietnamese
meant I hated everybody else
hated hmong people
hated Lao people
Mienh people
Khmer people
hated Black people
Hated everybody
we gangbanged on ourselves
So maybe I’m just as Vietnamese
as I hate to be

But yet I still…
I hate being Vietnamese
because I everything that I was told to be successful
by my teachers, television, society
was everything Vietnamese was not
so being a little boy
“Denying being Vietnamese” was everything I was taught

I didn’t speak Vietnamese
I didn’t have Vietnamese friends
I hated being Vietnamese

I wrote off my identity like Standardized Test exams
Not really understanding everything about my History & my Language
was everything I am

so I took a retest and saw
hating being Vietnamese
was just hating myself
It was self-hate
It’s been a language whisper colonist oppressors
Told us to blanket our pride
Never show our true strength
And this generation will simply be the successors
The successors of imperialized slaves
cause in this time, the game has changed
They tell us to be color-blind
No history, no ethnicity, just American
But we chose, we chose to redefine
I don’t know about you
But I’m Southeast Asian
I’m Southeast Asian Vietnamese American
And I know I said I hated being Vietnamese
But I didn’t know what it meant
to be in a family of Warriors and refugees
I didn’t understand why Americans helicopter dropped us
In section 8 housing of violence and poverty
I didn’t why broken education systems were at war
and my brothers were the causalities
they drop out of school, learn the gang rob
cause no ever taught them English or how to get a job

I have one message for fellow
Southeast Asian Graduates
Be proud of who you are and
Remember where you came from

Remember, we share this narrative of struggle
We are the descendants of generals, kings, dragons and goddesses
And they say we carry the history of our ancestors on our backs
So maybe that’s why we bear dragon tattoos on our shoulders
So we can always remember who we are and stay on track

Maybe that why we leave hints of old aged fermented fish
or spicy salad sting of jungle decorated papaya
And the beautiful concoctions of curry and coconut milk called Ka Poon
we leave legendary legacies
Off the simple utterance of our breath

Maybe thats why we bought Hondas
because they were the very engines
that kept fishboats to keep moving
across Southeast Asian seas
to Refugee camps

Maybe that’s why we pretend to be thugs
cause our parents were original gangsters – OG’s
while we strap guns
they strap farm machettes and hmong knives
through turfs called sun beating rice plantations
they real rick ross bosses
always knew how make my banh mi’s
with that pati spread and the soy sauces

Southeast Asian moms had the power to heal all
That healing power was called
Tiger Balm
Mienh Folks called it “Dia cAAm”
Vietnamese people called it “Yao Xanh”
The stuff cure everything
stomache, headache, heartache, diaherrea and toe fungus

Our parents are Super Saiyans
They were the supreme Kai
landscaping, farming. Donut shops, nail salons
They did anything for us to survive
They ascended past super saiyan 4 and 5
Through frieza’s global annihilation attacks
that we call the Cambodian Genocides
Thru Vegeta’s hostile takeover disguised as
American assimilation
They will be kamakema fires
The Ginyu Force at our graduations

Graduates, as you make way onto your Goku journeys to the real world
In search of your 7 dragon ballz
Remember, we will accomplish all that our families have set out for us to do
And as long as you remember to never ever hate who you are and embrace your legacy
We will finally be able to grant them
their one wish

Congratulations to the Southeast Asian Class of 2012!!

"Reclaim Stories/ Reclaim Self" by Fong Tran & David So

Shout out to “bubblylotuskisses” for recording this video from the 2012 Iu-Mien Student Conference.

Much love to my boi Matthew Vista for music and hook for this collaborative poem.

Click this Link:

Sac bee Article about me, my poetry, my life and the love of my life: my mama. Its a privilege to have this coverage and I thank all the folks that continue to support. I am product of your love

Sac Bee Article about my life/ my poetry/ my mama ›

Sac bee Article about me, my poetry, my life and the love of my life: my mama. Its a privilege to have this coverage and I thank all the folks that continue to support. I am product of your love

UC Davis Southeast Asian Graduation
 A night of “I love you mom and dad”, “props to my friends for always being there” and “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you all” - The Southeast Asian Graduation is not just a ethnic grad for students to cross another stage parading their own achievements but a opportunity for students to celebrate the love and support of the people that really created their achievement: their families.
Dropped some poetry about the incredible sacrifice of our Southeast Asian mothers and womyn!! Thanks for the opportunity and showing your love for my work

UC Davis Southeast Asian Graduation

A night of “I love you mom and dad”, “props to my friends for always being there” and “I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you all” - The Southeast Asian Graduation is not just a ethnic grad for students to cross another stage parading their own achievements but a opportunity for students to celebrate the love and support of the people that really created their achievement: their families.

Dropped some poetry about the incredible sacrifice of our Southeast Asian mothers and womyn!! Thanks for the opportunity and showing your love for my work