My Voice is Necessary: June “Jumakae” Kaewsith
I first heard the spoken word of June “Jumakae” Kaewsith at a Homeland Cultural Center event. She blew me away. Since then, I’ve discovered so many of her voices. According to a bio she wrote up for this story, she described herself as “…a cultural worker using the arts as a way to engage and mobilize communities.”
June “Jumakae” Kaewsith is an artist and activist “with a fierce commitment to the workers and young people who make up Long Beach, CA.” PalacioMagazine.com recently interviewed June about her art, the commitment to change and her vision for communities of color. She began by reading her powerful words, My Voice is Necessary.
June “Jumakae” Kaewsith has a long list of accomplishments. She’s developed violence prevention curricula centered around redefining masculinity for teenage boys, co-created a theater production written in collaboration with community members about Long Beach’s air quality through Great Leap Inc. Kaewsith has also directed a skit with hotel workers and labor rights organizers to address sexual assault and the need for a livable wage.
Kaewsith has led community mural projects with women and children in shelter, co-produced the city’s first grand slam competition for teenagers that went on to compete at Brave New Voices, and has facilitated numerous workshops around culture and identity for Southeast Asian American youth.
Some of June “Jumakae” Kaewsith affiliations include Homeland Cultural Center, Boys & Girls Club, Create Now, Arts 4 LA, L.A.’s Best, Families in Good Health, Khmer Girls in Action, Dramatic Results, TeAda Productions, and Building Healthy Communities. The list also includes End Oil, Serve the People Institute, Visual Communication, and various coalitions that are aimed at addressing the root causes of inequity and community violence.
Kaewsith is currently in a band with Nobuko Miyamoto called “The Generations”, inspired by the annual FandangObon project done in collaboration with The beloved East LA Chican@ rock group Quetzal. Their music addresses the need for working across cultures, intergenerational dialogue, environmental justice, and solidarity with #blacklivesmatter.