Melissa Khoeum Barnett, 30’s
Los Angeles, CA
Current Role: Product Manager - I work in product development and basically turn ideas into reality.
What racial, ethnic, cultural community or communities do you identify with?
Tell us about your family story.
My parents met and fell in love in America - the Eastside LBC to be specific! Then, they made me and my siblings. They gave me an imperfectly perfect life. Growing up, my mom would always put herself before us and my dad was my hero. Pa and Ma would always tried to expose me, my siblings and uncles to new experiences, whether it was taking us camping or Disneyland - they tried to expose us to everything.
They showed me the good and bad parts about life and it made me stronger. We were poor but we NEVER felt poor because of all love and experiences. Looking back, they gave me a life RICH with memories and I am forever thankful.
What are the strengths and challenges of being Asian, Asian American, and/or Pacific Islander?
This time is specifically tough being Asian American. I'd be lying if I said it's awesome all the time because it's not. Sometimes it's tough because you feel misplaced, misunderstood and mistreated. Being Asian/Khmer American means you face a lot of complex adversities, such as being caste as the model minority by Non-Asian communities and judgment from within our own Asian American Communities.
I wish I could talk about the details ... but it wouldn't fit onto this post. Although, we face challenges like all minorities in this country, we also have a lot of strengths. One thing that I appreciate about being Asian American is that we have a lot of pride in our cultures. Whether you're Khmer, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese or Japanese, we all have SO MUCH PRIDE IN OUR CULTURE... and I love that we all embrace this and have this in common.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is the moment I learned to let go of fear and the moment I learned to forgive. These two things forever changed my mindset and the way I live my life.
Reflecting on how you grew up, what did you learn or appreciate from your family?
I've learned so MUCH from my family.
-> I love how we put family first; they taught me about true love and loyalty.
-> They taught me to be myself and that I can achieve anything I put my mind too.
-> They taught me to be appreciative of what I have because we started from such humble beginnings.
-> And lastly, they taught me that no matter how far you get in life, DON'T FORGET TO BE KIND!
Do you speak your family's native language? Why or why not?
I use to speak Khmer a lot more when I lived with my family and grandparents. Sadly, after college, I started to have trouble speaking fluently because I wasn't using it a lot. I'm kind of not great at it anymore and it makes me sad. When I do get a chance to speak with my mom or older generation family members, I try to speak Khmer so I don't forget the language. I may not speak it much but I SURE DO UNDERSTAND all of it ... which I'm grateful for!
What advice do you have for the younger generations in our Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander community?
Go after your dreams! Don't let you or your fears stop yourself.
What gives you the greatest joy in life?
Family, Food, Friends and Creating!
Are there any projects you have created that you'd like to share and promote?
I would love to share my Instagram and Blog Website.
It's a lifestyle blog about self care, skincare, and streetwear for the everyday goal-getters and dreamers.
Here are some articles about self care and goal setting:
- This blog post has a FREE digital vision board template.
- This blog provides ideas on self care for the busy women.
If you would like to share your voice as a person of color, please read the directions and fill out this form here. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome. Thank you!
Who are we?
Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander voices in our communities.
This is a section for AAPI specifically because, coming from our Khmer culture, we often feel invisible in various spaces from school to the media.
We want to show the ways in which we are the same and different, and that all of our backgrounds and experiences are valuable to learn and celebrate. Let's uplift each other!
Want to share your voice?
To be featured, read the directions and fill out this form. All ages, backgrounds, and generations welcome.
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