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My writing, therefore, uses inviting language—language some might call accessible—to make the world legible to subjects like my mother, and to make subjects like my mother legible to the world.
I came up with the title Hoài (in Vietnamese meaning both ongoing and memory) to encapsulate the feeling experienced by queer refugee descendant—realities fractured with memories, multiple identifications, and an unsettling home that is rooted in refugee displacement.
The Missing Piece Project calls for a collective intervention at the Wall by Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and other refugee community members still affected today by the legacy of American militarism and imperialism in Southeast Asia. This project envisions a nationwide, coordinated, mass dedication of items at the Wall by refugee community members on the upcoming April 30 anniversary in 2020.
And yet: I encounter discomfiting truths here, within and outside of myself. How I have for years longed to come back, felt some piece of me missing for not reckoning with the Vietnam that was left behind, and then to come back and have to admit the ways I still feel I do not belong.
It's the difference between a legacy of interacting with the natural world through a series of violent acts with the purpose of domination over a space, versus interacting with the natural world as a means of avoiding acts of violence, and trying to reach a safer place.