Hoping Hmong History Brings Understanding

Being from Wisconsin and Minnesota (Mindy) the Hmong people are familiar to us. I know a number of students who attended my high school and Mindy recalls many even in rural Minnesota.

From The Capital Times:

Wisconsin, Minnesota and California are home to the largest populations of Hmong, an ethnic minority from Southeast Asia. Many Hmong, including Za Blong Vang, fought alongside the U.S. in a so-called secret war against communists in Laos during the Vietnam War and later fled to avoid government persecution. Lawmakers said 50,000 Hmong live in Wisconsin.

The body of Cha Vang was found Jan. 6 in a wildlife refuge near Green Bay. A white hunter was charged last week in Vang’s death.

Vang is a common last name for Hmong and the homicide victim is not related to Za Blong Vang.

Two years ago, a Hmong deer hunter shot six white hunters to death after being accused of trespassing in the Wisconsin woods. He said the whites shouted racial epithets at him and opened fire first. He is serving life sentences. Some Hmong residents fear the latest killing was revenge.

“We felt this issue now has some urgency,” said Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee. “The fear and apprehension felt by our fellow Hmong citizens makes it important that we retell the important role they played in the Vietnam War.”

Is understanding a people’s history and culture a step towards removing prejudice? It does seem that we fear what we don’t know. And this could be a wonderful step to truly embracing the Hmong community in the Midwest. Now if we can start changing our history books to embrace all people, we’d be in good shape.