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Hiking with Ma
Rhummanee Hang
The Light of Darkness Previous Next

Hiking with Ma

Ma is 68 this year
And all she wants to do is be outdoors and in nature
I hike with my mom on the weekends
Crisp air
Hills, ocean views
Or smells of saltwater provide a backdrop
To stories of before
Before coming to the US
Before war and genocide
Before getting married at 16
She is still so youthful
A love so big
Each week a different trail
A new view of Oakland
Of the Bay
To feet gently sinking into damp earth
Or scrunching dirt and gravel
As we walk
She talks
I’m listening
To experiences of first arriving in Oakland
With my surviving siblings
Living in a small apartment with 12+ people on E12th
Or sleeping with a knife under her pillow
Because living on Grove Street mid crack epidemic
Is wild
I’m listening
To how she felt when
My refugee brother was
Almost deported
And I’m noticing all the areas
Of compounded trauma
Wondering how her healing could even happen
After losing 3 kids and her husband
When the same country that dropped bombs on Cambodia
Wants to send my family back
When she believed in the land of opportunity
Only to be met with lack
And resettling in a country
Whose whole existence is anti-Black
She escaped war and genocide
Only to be met with war and genocide
In these streets
She seems to be holding it together
How do these things,
Some I never experienced firsthand,
Affect me so deeply?
She seems to be holding it together
But she needs these walks
Like I need these walks
She needs to talk
And so I listen
For wisdom
And history
And hope and how to cope
And resiliency I never found in classroom textbooks
I honor this medicine

RHUMMANEE HANG is a second-generation Khmai American, multidisciplinary artist, and community organizer who was born and raised in Oakland. She was introduced to arts activism at 13 years old through dance, theatre, and poetry youth programs. She has had over 10 years of experience in racial equity work, culturally specific programming, youth development, and Southeast Asian anti-deportation organizing. Rhummanee is an Aquarian dragon (Gemini moon and rising), crafter, and most importantly, Mommy to the amazing toddler, Noreak!

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