« | »

NYT Idolizes A ‘Break Dancing’ Deportee

From where else but the New York Times:

Tuy Sobil, or K.K., a former gang member from Long Beach, Calif., founded the club after being deported in 2004.

U.S. Deportee Brings Street Dance to Street Boys of Cambodia


Published: November 29, 2008

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — It may be the only place in Cambodia where the children are nicknamed Homey, Frog, Floater, Fresh, Bugs and Diamond.

And there are not many places like this small courtyard, thumping with the beat of a boom box, where dozens of boys in big T-shirts are spinning on their heads and doing one-hand hops, elbow tracks, flairs, halos, air tracks and windmills. And, of course, krumping.

It is a little slice of Long Beach, Calif., brought here by a former gang member by way of a federal prison, an immigration jail and then expulsion four years ago from his homeland, the United States, to the homeland of his parents, Cambodia.

The former gang member is Tuy Sobil, 30, who goes by the street name K.K. The boys are Cambodian street children he has taken under his wing as he teaches them the art he brought with him, break dancing, as well as his hard lessons in life.

K.K. is not here because he wants to be. He is one of 189 Cambodians who have been banished from the United States in the past six years under a law that mandates deportations for noncitizens who commit felonies. Hundreds more are on a waiting list for deportation. Like most of the others, K.K. is a noncitizen only by a technicality. He was not an illegal immigrant. He was a refugee from Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge “killing fields” who found a haven in the United States in 1980.

He was an infant when he arrived. In fact, he was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and had never seen Cambodia before he was deported. But K.K.’s parents were simple farmers who failed to complete the citizenship process when they arrived.

Like some children of poor immigrants, K.K. drifted to the streets, where he became a member of the Crips gang and a champion break dancer. It was only after he was convicted of armed robbery at 18 that he discovered that he was not a citizen.

Like many deportees, he arrived in Cambodia without possessions and without family contacts. He was a drug counselor at first and then founded his break dancing club, Tiny Toones Cambodia, where he now earns a living teaching about 150 youngsters and reaching out to hundreds more.

With the financial support of international aid groups like Bridges Across Borders, based in Graham, Fla., he has expanded his center into a small school that teaches English and Khmer and computers in addition to back flips, head stands and krumping, or crazy dancing

The boys and girls leaping and spinning here are the children of Cambodia’s underclass, like thousands who fill the slums of Phnom Penh — children who spend their evenings, as K.K. put it, “begging and digging through garbage to find food.”

K.K., whose youth was not so different from theirs, said he teaches them to find pride in who they are. A wall of his center is marked with students’ graffiti: “I want to be a rapper,” “I want to be a D.J.,” “I want to be a doctor.”

His journey between identities reached a point of strangeness when he was invited last December to perform with some of his students at a Christmas party at the United States Embassy…

The ambassador at the time, Joseph A. Mussomeli, recalled the performance as “great fun,” but he said the piquancy of the moment had not been lost on him.

“You are right that there is a certain wonderful irony to him being ‘rejected’ or at least ‘ejected’ from the U.S. and still landing on his feet — or shoulders and head — dancing,” Mr. Mussomeli said in an e-mail message.

“While watching him I was reminded of that great patriotic speech by Bill Murray in ‘Stripes,’ ” he added, “where he talks about Americans as being rejects from all the good, decent countries of the world! K.K. is/was an American in everything except in law — and he has shown this by his creativity, tenacity, and undying optimism.”

Now another irony is in store for K.K. His club has been invited to send dancers to perform in the United States — Cambodian boys who speak no English and have never left their country.

The real American among them, K.K., deported and excluded from the United States for the rest of his life, must stay behind.

“I can’t go,” he said over the thump of the boom box, as his boys jumped and bounced around him like tiny springs. “I can understand that they deported me here. I’d like to go visit — only visit, because I live here now. I have a brand new life.”

Gosh, what a beautiful story.

Mr. Sobil is not only passing on the highly marketable craft of break dancing to these otherwise disadvantaged youths, but he is teaching these children the gentle art of graffiti, as well.

This young thug is sewing the seeds of more thuggery to a new generation. What a boon he must be to Cambodian society.

What a gift this must be to a country so long deprived of its own dances and dancers. And just try to imagine living in a world without boom boxes, break dancers or graffiti.

Thankfully there is a group of crackpots tax exempt cultural organization to fund Mr. Sobil’s well-poisoning noble work.

Of course the real reason for this uplifting story is that the New York Times is on its own jihad against all forms of deportation.

After all, what a loss it is to our country to lose even one break dancer/armed robber.

Think of all of the wisdom he could be imparting to our fellow citizens here.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, November 30th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “NYT Idolizes A ‘Break Dancing’ Deportee”

  1. proreason says:

    ““I can’t go,” he said over the thump of the boom box, as his boys jumped and bounced around him like tiny springs.”

    He seems to immensely enjoy the company of the young boys, taking them under his “wing” and all.

    Of course, ex-cons are noted for their teaching skills and have a fever for teaching the young-uns. That’s probably why he does it.

  2. bobbys says:

    Is this how they celebrate Christmas at the embassy, With rappers and break dance? What happened to the red nose reindeer and the manger scenes??.. We have fity cents and snoop doggie dog now??, O well guess we had better get used to this kind of stuff now, i do like little bow wow and litlle kim but my break dancing/armed robbery skills are rusty.

  3. Liberals Demise says:

    CRY ME A FRICKIN” RIVER SETH!!! Am I suppose to be moved to tears because this dreg c-h-o-s-e crime over doing the right thing? For all the build up you do over this guy, you’d think he was the next Einstein or something. He is and always will be a street rat, nothing more….nothing less! He tossed his pearls before swine….and thats good enough for me pal!!

  4. Helena says:

    Looks as though the US did him a massive favor by deporting him. He had no idea how good he had it and how desperate life could be. He has now come face to face with the reality his former activities would create for everyone. And if he goes back to his wicked ways in the Philippines, they will not deal with him as kindly as the US did. They will put him away for life – or cut off a hand and then put him away. He has learned that actions have consequences. His life now has some meaning. If he can use breakdancing (shudder) as a lure to get some of these kids to learn to read and write and get computer skills, he may do some good in the world.

  5. 1republicanscientist says:

    “K.K. is/was an American in everything except in law — and he has shown this by his creativity, tenacity, and undying optimism.” WTF?

  6. bobbys says:

    has the Presidential inauguration committee been notified kk may be free for the whole week of gala events?

  7. pinandpuller says:

    I see a great straight to video movie here :”Footloose 2 The Wrath Of Tuy”.

    Or was this the original script for “Flashdance”- Armed robber by day, breakdancer by night?

  8. AmericanIPA says:

    What in the wide world of sports is krumping?

« Front Page | To Top
« | »