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,…

Say What?! Feminism is Veganism

Being feminist means being vegan. You can't be a true feminist if you're eating meat. I read this comment on Facebook and it hit a nerve with me. My first reaction was, "Why should people be telling others what to eat and what not to eat?" The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me for…

Children and Children

Mini Mermaid told me the other day that she wants to get married in the future but does not want to have any children. This isn't the first time she has informed me of her choice to be child-free. She is going to marry at age 29 to the person she loves and likes. She…

What’s in a Name?

My name is MaiBao. The Hmong RPA spelling of MaiBao is Maiv Npauj. Maiv means "girl," "miss," or "little girl." (Maiv can be used by itself to call someone significantly younger than you. For example, an elderly woman can call a young Hmong woman, "Maiv" without having to use her name). Npauj means "moth." MaiBao or Maiv Npauj is pronounced…

BOF Day of Action: Sacramento, CA

Hello, everyone! I've already posted this on my Facebook Page, but I'll post it here for those who do not have a Facebook account. The Building Our Future Sacramento Team has been working very hard at organizing our upcoming BOF event. If you are in the Sacramento area, I would like to invite you to…

Building Our Future: Champions Against Abusive International Marriages

The first time I heard about abusive international marriages (AIM) was at the Hmong National Development Conference in Fresno, CA in April 2013. Presented by Kabzuag Vaj (Freedom Inc), Nancy Xiong (George Mason University), and Pa Vang (University of Wisconsin), "Abusive International Marriage - Transnational Domestic Violence" was a workshop to present a report about AIM…

“Girls Will Be Happy If They Get Married Crying.”

Warning: Very emotionally tense videos ahead. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=459987150789877&set=vb.100003357884515&type=2&theater This is a video of a group of Black Hmong in Sapa, Vietnam. The young girl is being dragged by men who are practicing what we call zij poj niam---in other words, bride-napping. I first saw this video circulating the social network sites at the end of last year.…

Refugees of War

Before bed one night, I read The Whispering Cloth, by Pegi Deitz Shea, to my children. It is a story about a little Hmong girl, named Mai, who lives with her grandmother in a refugee camp in Thailand. This story takes place after the Vietnam War. Mai learns to embroider her own story cloth while watching…