Hmong and the Secret War

The first time I saw my people mentioned in an American history book was sophomore year in college. It was a very brief one sentence side note on the section about the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War. "Hmong hill tribes of Laos helped Americans in what was called the 'Secret War' during the…

#metoo

There's been much on the news about Harvey Weinstein's history of sexual harassment and assault. What ensued was an explosion of women coming forward to disclose sexual abuse and harassment by this man and other power men. Sexual assault or harassment doesn't start or end with Weinstein or big Hollywood execs or people with power.…

Hmong New Year: The Bane of My Adolescence

Oroville Hmong New Year Festival that happened last weekend (first weekend of October) marked the start of the Hmong New Year celebrations. Some cultures celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival), but the Hmong communities start our new year celebrations. Besides the music, performances, food, merchandise booths, and exhibits, the Hmong new year  festivals can be a…

Solar Eclipse: Evil Spirit Devouring the Sun

Tomorrow an evil spirit will devour the sun and darkness will envelope North America before noon my time. Hmong folks historically pull out their drums--pounding away--to scare the spirit. "Dab noj hnub," is the phrase for "solar eclipse." It literally means "evil spirit devouring the sun." Before science explained this natural phenomenon, a solar eclipse…

Hmong: Where Is Home?

"Where are you from?" she asked me with great interest when I told her I am Hmong. "It depends on what you're asking." "What do you mean?" "Well, if you're asking where I live, I'm from the US. If you're asking where I was born, that's Thailand. If you ask where my parents came from,…

Currently Away

I've been away for 8-9 months (isn't it obvious?). At first it was because I had too many things on my plate--work, family life, health, and being in a place where there were too much clutter in my brain to make sense of it. Then when I wanted to write something, I found that I…

A Visit From Grams

Last Friday, my sister and I took our kids to visit Grams'. It had been a couple months since our last visit. We wanted to take her flowers and food. We also had good news about Tais Neng. When the five of us got up to Grams' headstone, Girl grabbed the recessed vase from its…

Post-Election, I Mourn

I couldn't sleep last night. My eyes were glued to the screen of my laptop, watching the United States turn red. I was hopeful, telling my worried sisters that it's still too early to decide a winner. And even after the announcement that Hillary called Trump to concede, I was in denial and became numb.…

Triggered

"Professor Choi," she said. That name took me through a wormhole back to freshman year in college. The feelings of disgust and fear crept through my body as my 18-year-old self saw this college professor's erection through his khaki pants. I wasn't in Choi's class. That was the first and last time I met him.…

How Racism Looks Like for a Child

My evening conversations with my children consist of the usual: How was your day? How are you doing? A few weeks ago, while we're sitting on my bed, Little Mermaid told me that Aiden made fun of her at school. "Mommy, Aiden called me Chinese today," she broke into tears. "I told him that I'm…