Janet Wiscombe : Independent Journalist | Writer | Editor

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Prisoners of Their Past
The Eng and Svay families struggle to survive in the Southland
Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)

While other members of the household recall the horrors of the past, Phon Eng sits in the corner staring vacantly at the blank TV set.
The 40-year-old woman with the high cheekbones and the coal black veil of hair is seated on the floor of the tiny one-room Long Beach apartment she shares with her husband, their four children, and her brother and sister-in-law and their three children. Her gaze is hardly interrupted when her 3-year-old daughter, Monica, climbs into her lap. She glances down at the pretty child in the frayed underpants, absently strokes the toddler's arms and legs and bows her head in silent anguish.
As she does, the scar slashed across the crown of her head eclipses her other strong, dark features. It is the grisly, 4-inch gash she received at the hands of her fellow Cambodian countrymen, a brutal reminder of Armageddon tattooed to her skull.

Compton's Controversial Mayor
Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)

Compton Mayor Omar Bradley is in one rotten, lousy mood. Yesterday he had a root canal and his mouth hurt so bad he missed a City Council meeting. Last night he couldn't sleep. By then his jaw was OK but he had too much work to finish and too many enemies to conquer to rest.
And that's just for starters.

Compton Reaches Out for Understanding
Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)

The future of race relations in the Southland might be found in a doughnut shop in Compton.
As people throughout the country try to comprehend how the abyss between ethnic groups could have grown so deep, the regulars at Winchell's Donut House on Alondra Boulevard have been predicting urban rebellion, and discussing ways to build a safer, saner, more just community. The discussion has gone on for decades.
"Blacks have run out of cheeks to turn," says Lou Robinson, a 50-year-old salesman who's been coffee klatching with his buddies here for years. "America is broken down from the White House to the ghetto."

The Mighty Pen of New Phnom Penh
Los Angeles Times

As the compact Cambodian literary giant sips an espresso at a cafe in Long Beach, he merrily expounds on subjects ranging from roller-blading and child rearing to political assassinations and sinister plots.
Don't be fooled by the soft eyes and the lovable smile. Here in New Phnom Penh, home to the largest number of Cambodians in the free world, he is variously venerated and despised.

The Wisdom of Karenga
Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)

The office, like the man, is a world apart.
A black national flag prominently rules a wall. Faces of African-American leaders - Fannie Lou Hamer, W.E.B. DuBois, Malcolm X - dominate another. African carvings and masks accent scholarly literature in bookshelves.
From his seat at a conference table, the formidable Maulana Endabezitha Karenga answers the phone.