Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Power Station

Mar 15, 2021

There are many moments that resonate in a conversation with Vimala Phongsavahn, Board President of the Laotian American National Alliance. They include the story of her parents, Laotian refugees who fled a repressive government and the aftermath of America’s covert bombing during the Vietnam War. Vimala describes their resettlement in Rhode Island in 1981 where they started jobs, her mother in a factory with no benefits and her father as a machinist, two days after their arrival. The story extends to the broader Laotian American community, a population of 265,000, 27% of whom are economically and educationally disadvantaged. They have been rendered almost invisible by a pervasive model minority myth, which presents Asian Americans from 50 subgroups as a prosperous monolith. This narrative can only be undone, Vimala explains, through data disaggregation, civic engagement and policy advocacy. It also requires partners in the Asian American eco-system to include Laotian Americans at decision-making tables. Stories and data reveal the experience of a nuanced multi-ethnic community. And LANA is creating a platform for a new generation of leaders to take flight.