Over the past year, APEN member leaders Brandy Khansouvong and Sary Tatpaporn interviewed Laotian Americans in Richmond through the RichmondLAND Building Power Fellowship.
Richmond is Home: Preventing a Second Displacement of Laotian Americans documents their community’s stories of home – stories of Laos before the devastation of war, their experiences of war and refugee camps, and how people found each other and made home together in Richmond, California. Now, as Laotian Americans in Richmond face a housing crisis, they’re fighting to stay and finding solutions that keep their communities together.
From Richmond is Home:
Everybody comes from somewhere. Many people come from more than one place. We are from Laos and we are from Richmond. Even in Laos we are from different places; from the lowlands and midlands and highlands. Like here, we are from the Manor and North and the Iron Triangle. Laotians have been in Richmond for almost 45 years.
How did we get here? The American War in Vietnam spilled into Laos and Cambodia, forcing many of our families to leave their homes. This was the first displacement. We fled for many reasons, as Mrs. Kham shared in her story of leaving Laos,
If you take us back we’ll die, they’ll kill us. We don’t want to come here, we don’t mean to come here. We are refugees, we have to come.
Today, many in our community are facing a second displacement from our homes in Richmond and West Contra Costa County.
This book seeks to tell a story that isn’t told enough in Richmond – how we came here, why we came, and how and why we love this place. It also shows how we are facing a housing crisis. Most importantly, it shows that we are going to fight to stay and to create new solutions to keep our community together and intact.
We hope you read, share and are compelled to act on behalf of housing security for all. Being uprooted from one’s home and family is one of the most difficult things one can experience. It’s time to put an end to this and ensure safe, stable and healthy housing for all. This is the foundation of the beautiful, healthy and diverse community of Richmond and West Contra Costa County.
– Brandy Khansouvong and Sary Tatpaporn