Friday, February 4th, Somatra Sean received a tattoo, designed by her, paid for by Long Beach Clothing. Why?
Somatra was one of dozens of entrants all of whom were incredible. We asked two focused questions: Why do you love Long Beach and Why Do You deserve a Long Beach tattoo? All answered in their own way. Some serious, some comical, all impressive.
At the end of the day, we had to choose just one. And, Somatra was it. Read her heartfelt anwers.
01. Why Do You Love Long Beach?TOP
I believe those who were born and raised in Long Beach truly know and understand the history and beauty of Long Beach. And I am proudly one of them. And man do I love Long Beach.
I’m a young 26 year old Cambodian woman that had the honor to grow up in Long Beach due to my parents escaping the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970′s. If you know Long Beach, a huge population of Long Beach consists of Cambodians. Long Beach symbolizes freedom in my family and that’s how my journey in this amazing city began. I grew up poor in Long Beach. My parents, illegal immigrants at the time only had “under the table” jobs and worked hard for a family of 7. Although I grew up poor as can be I believe growing up in Long Beach was the richest experience in my life. It made me who I am today.
When you meet me, you’ll think I’m pretty awesome. I lived in the roughest neighborhoods. One of the areas I grew up in was 17th Street and Martin Luther King. During that time so many gangs were at war that our family got used to drive by shootings. Almost everyone in my family was mugged at one time, myself included. I ran for my life plenty of times. With God’s protection, all of us are still alive. It sounds like I’m talking about how bad Long Beach is but trust me I’m getting to the good parts.
When everyone comes to visit Long Beach they only see The Pike or the Queen Mary or 2nd Street pretty much all the nice areas in Long Beach. And I agree those places are beautiful and key to the history of Long Beach. But that’s not why I love Long Beach. I love Long Beach because of the delicious hole in the wall places to eat; the alleys where I use to play jump rope with my Black and Mexican neighbors, the ice cream truck with mouth watering chili powder and nowandlaters candy but also sell drugs on the side, and going to Cherry Beach and actually swimming in the filthy water with my family. Long Beach is my home.
Because I grew up poor and in rough neighborhoods, it has prepared me for one of the greatest issue in our city…homelessness. Sophomore year in high school I was molested by a homeless man at the Long Beach Public Library next to Lincoln Park. That experience really scarred me and it took me years to finally tell someone about it. Long Beach Friends Church the church I went to and still attend now had a homeless ministry. So I was always surrounded by homeless folks but never been attacked by one before. This led me to think that all homeless guys are monsters. However, because of my experience, I was able to connect to other homeless women and men who were once raped or abused. The relationships I had with them were sincere and trust was formed. I knew my life was going to change. My paradigm shifted and I no longer see homeless people as monsters. 10 years later… the past decade I have done homeless outreach in Long Beach and now most of my friends are homeless.
On the streets they call me the “Popest” which means a Lady Pope. I’m the lady to contact if someone needed help with food, money, or a temporary place to live. It’s not about a temporary fix, it’s about a long lasting relationship. If you live and love Long Beach you must know what resources are here in order to help our neighbors. That’s when you know if someone really know and love Long beach. This leads me to why I deserve a Long Beach tattoo.
02. Why do you deserve a Long Beach tattoo?TOP
Mainly I want people to know that they too can make a difference in someone’s life and get involved in what’s happening in our city regarding homelessness. In getting this tattoo, I also want to show my homeless friends and the community that I see day to day that I am forever committed to Long Beach and will never leave them astray.
This would be my first and only tattoo. It really doesn’t matter if I win or not, I just want to send a message out there on how much I truly love this city and how devoted I am to the people that live here.
I know Long Beach and our city resources like the back of my hand and it is true I am the person to contact if you need any kind of help. Ask anyone. In the past year the city of Long Beach has housed over 74 homeless individuals off the streets and into their own apartments. I was given the pleasure through Kingdom Causes Long Beach and the Long Beach Connections project to work along side those who moved in. With other churches in Long Beach involved, we would gather items to help furnished their new apartments. But it’s really not about the furniture… it’s about the relationships. This is what I like to tell people all the time, “Although people need food, money, and shelter, people mainly need people!” As more are being housed, we like to challenge people to really walk along side these homeless individuals and spend quality time with them. Like I said before it’s about long lasting relationships and not a temporary fix. But you must know, this experience will change your life and you have to be committed to this person. I am pretty well known in the city as a Homeless Task Force Leader and a community advocate. If I get this tattoo I am positive that I will have a crowd of supporters there to cheer me on and some of them will be homeless whether people like it or not.
Thank you for your time in reading this and I hope you consider me for the tattoo. I genuinely love Long Beach to the core!
[We'll update this post as soon as Somatra's inked.]