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Updated: Feb 19, 2023

I see my brown skin that identifies my race.

I see my dark hair that I run my fingers through when I’m daydreaming.

I see my upturned eyes with irises that can be as sweet as chocolate

or as jagged as the rocks upon which ships crash.

I hear my parents listening to the soft yet upbeat melodies of Khmer music

that floats from the speakers.

I hear my cousins and aunts and uncles at a party,

their voices raised to the point where they can no longer hear each other.

I hear the blend of Cambodian and English woven into conversations,

spoken as swift as lightning yet as gentle as rain tapping against the window.

I smell the freshly cooked rice that greets me when I visit my parents.

I smell the garlic and lemons and soy sauce,

scents that remind me that the best meals are home cooked.

I smell the smoke of the incense sticks after we’ve prayed to our ancestors

for health and happiness.

I taste the salmon that’s been cooked to perfection and melts in my mouth.

I taste the sticky rice topped with mangos and covered in coconut sauce.

I taste the salt in my tears from laughing with cousins

over childhood stories, arguing whose parents were stricter.

I feel the strength of our community when people see us

as less than human.

I feel the resilience of my ancestors coursing through my veins.

I feel the pride in being Asian American.

- Eric Nhem

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