Long Beach youth uplift city issues through dance and performances at the 13th annual Yellow Lounge

By Crystal Niebla for VoiceWaves

Long Beach youth uplifted the importance of culture and voice during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge at Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium Saturday night.

Yellow Lounge, an awareness-raising celebration led by local nonprofit Khmer Girls in Action, showcases performances, art and culture that elevates youth voices, particularly those from the Southeastern Asian community in Long Beach.

Organizers also pointed to the 2020 election, urging teens and adults to pre-register and register to vote.

This year, organizers themed it as “We Love, Believe, and Care” about young people’s future, highlighting race-related violence at schools, women’s rights to bodies, deportations and more.

The event included classical Khmer dances, poetry, video screenings, singing, PSAs, hip-hop dances and skits.

Peathdra Sou, 17, who attended Yellow Lounge for the first time this year, said the talks about deportations resonated with him because he has friends with family who have been deported.

Sou was part of Khmer Girls in Action as a senior at Poly High School and knew a little about the national immigration issue and deportations but said he enjoyed a “Know Your Rights” video created for those at risk of being deported.

Event organizers display a large, heartbreak shaped cardboard message calling attention to national and local deportations during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

“It really gave me a better understanding of what’s really happening,” Sou said.

Youth also uplifted an ongoing KGA-led Invest in Youth campaign, a mission aimed to draw in annual dollars from the city’s budget for a Long Beach Children and Youth Fund to support youth programs.

Last year, KGA, Long Beach Forward and several other organizations convinced the city council to approve a one-time fund of $200,000 for youth programs as part of a first-time People’s Budget Proposal.

While many community leaders in the campaign saw the allocation as a win, now, organizers want consistent funding from the city’s budget to sustain the youth fund and its recipient programs; however, a dollar amount has yet been proposed.

VoiceWaves is a Long Beach youth-led journalism and media-training project. The youth, ages 16-24, are learning to report, write, and create digital journalism content. Read more at Voicewaves.org.

Emily Chan, 16, a Khmer Girls in Action member, leads “Robam Phlet,” a classical Khmer fan dance, during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Khmer Girls in Action members circle into a new formation performing “Robam Phlet,” a classical Khmer fan dance, during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Chakra Sokhomsan performs “Robam Pka Meas Pka Prak” or “Dance of Gold and Silver Flowers” during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Chakra Sokhomsan performs “Robam Pka Meas Pka Prak” or “Dance of Gold and Silver Flowers” during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Khmer Girls in Action members Marina Duong (left) and Lina Hout (right) dance toward the stage performing a hip hop routine titled “Boss Girls Dance” during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Emily Chan, 16, performs hip hop routine “Rise Up Dance” for the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Shay Catal, 14, a Khmer Girls in Action member, recites her poem, “Affirmation,” which highlights racial tensions at schools, dismissiveness of youth voices, deportations and more during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Mykailah “Mac” Harris, an activist with the Invest in Youth campaign, recites her poem, “#Hashtag,” a piece that points out the frequency of social media hashtags that emerge following the countless deaths caused by racism and prejudice. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Marina Duong, a Khmer Girls in Action member, recites her poem titled, “To My Future Long Beach,” during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Kasrey Moxley, 40, takes a photo of a Khmer Girls in Action member headshot display during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Romero O. Garcia, 40, helps himself to free food handed out by Roque Armenta, 38, a board member for Khmer Girls in Action, during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge at Roosevelt Elementary School on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Nelson Nailat, also known as DJ “n Prevail,” drops some hip hop cuts before the program begins for the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Lucy Truong, 28, waves to a familiar face while Sheila Sy, a Khmer Girls in Action staff, helps guests register during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

Khmer Girls in Action members show off the hard work put into the Invest in Youth campaign through a six-foot tall display during the 13th annual Yellow Lounge inside the Roosevelt Elementary School Auditorium on August 3, 2019. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

 

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