An event open to people who self-identify as Central, East, South, Southeast Asian and/or Pacific Islander (including mixed-race people from these communities), to examine and work through anti-Blackness in our communities. Please feel free to invite anyone who fits the description above!
This event will be part workshop, part discussion, part historical timeline, and part story-telling (and sharing), including an examination of the history of anti-Blackness in our communities AND the history of solidarity between our communities and Black communities in the US, and how we might strengthen solidarity between our communities.
To certain outside viewers, Vietnamese in America may have become synonymous with flag-waving conservatism, embodying a reactionary and censorious nationalism couched in the rallying cries of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom.’ That’s definitely not me nor quite a few other Vietnamese Americans both young and old. But neither are we the conical-hatted, machine gun-slinging peasant warriors glorified in the lore of America’s left movement.
[However] there is a Vietnamese history in America — and a leftist history at that — going as far back as the 1940s national liberation struggles among émigrés in New York against French colonialism, to the 1960s anti-war activism of Vietnamese students and early immigrants. On July 2, 1972 in Los Angeles, the Union of Vietnamese in the United States was formed — the only group of Vietnamese in America to organize against the war.
Reclaiming our Vietnamese American history and identity has come to have a lot more meaning for me these days. It will mean, I think, careful and strategic organizing work within our communities. It will mean nurturing the youth and not antagonizing the elders. It will mean growing and struggling in the U.S. without forgetting to fight the imperialism that brought us here.
Checking our messages, we’re surprised to see that Bochan sent The Green Papaya some love. She took note of our media blast 2 months ago, of a post featuring an article she was in, and kindly gave us some props.
Check out her Kickstarter project where she hopes to raise funds to pay tribute to those who have been displaced by “conflicts and war” in her upcoming album. The funds will be used to master the album, print CDs, make a Music Video among other things.
She currently has $3,037 pledged of her $10,650 goal with 24 days to go. If you’re interested in finding out more and backing her project click here.
Here’s Bochan’s surprise message:
To the wonderful folks at The Green Papaya-
Thank you so much for providing Southeast Asians with a platform to share our art, culture, and experiences.
Cambodian American, Oakland Singer Bochan Choosing the Best of Both Worlds
Bochan Huy is a 33 year old Cambodian American and Oakland Singer who was recently featured on PRI’s The World. Growing up listening to her father play Khmer psychedelic rock songs, she’s created a sound of her own as she blends hip hop, soul, funk and classic Cambodian rock into her music. Through music, she tries to close the cultural and generational gap between Cambodian youth and their families.
Ninety percent of instruction is in Hmong for kindergartners in the Hmong immersion program at Susan B. Anthony Elementary. Photo by Andria Lo. At Susan B. Anthony Elementary, Mr. Vue’s kindergarteners sit on a brightly colored carpet as they look up at him, repeating sounds of the alphabet.
“Ahhh, aaay, eeeh,” he sings as the children sing along. The sounds are not in English. The school, located in South Sacramento, is home to the only Hmong dual-language immersion program on the West Coast — and the second in the country after a similar program in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Dual, or two-way, language immersion programs are ones where students learn English and another language with the goals of developing a high level of proficiency in both, academic achievement, and appreciation for other cultures. Instructional time includes a minimum of 50 percent in the language other than English. In most cases, schools maintain a balance between fluent English speakers and children who can speak the other language, so that both populations benefit from one another.
“The idea of the Hmong immersion program is so students will become bicultural and biliterate in both English and Hmong,” explains Lee Yang (pronounced “Ya”), the principal and a former director of Sacramento City Unified School District’s Multilingual Literacy Department, who spearheaded the program.
Senate Slated to Address Laos, Hmong Veterans Burial Honors
“‘The Lao and Hmong Veterans Burial Honors Bill,’ S. 200, introduced by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R- Alaska) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska), if enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, would permit some 9,700 Laotian- and Hmong-America veterans of the U.S. ‘Secret Army’ in Laos to be buried in national Department of Veterans Affairs’ cemeteries,” Smith stated.
“From 1961-1975, the Hmong and Lao ethnic soldiers of the U.S. ‘Secret Army’ lost about 40,000 men and women for the accomplishment of covert missions, including some impossible and hopelessly dangerous missions, where the Lao-Hmong soldiers had to pay in blood with many, many, countless Lao-Hmong lives lost…,” said Colonel Wangyee Vang, President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute, in Senate testimony.
Mr. Vang stated: “Now it is 38 years after the war ended in 1975. Unfortunately, our veterans still have not received any kind of burial honors benefit, or other veterans’ benefits, from the U.S. government especially for our Hmong, Khmu, Lao, Mien and other ethnic veterans of the ‘U.S. Secret Army.’ We are, therefore, strongly urging the U.S. Congress, as soon as possible, to pass S. 200 for those veterans still surviving from the Vietnam War.” Source: Fort Mill Times →
Hearing the words, “not guilty” can be the most joyous or frightening day of anyone’s life. But so is the person who is dead. Unable to speak for oneself. The world is angry, no, they are pissed off. Not at Zimmerman, but at the fact that a man can kill a boy and walk free, unpunished for his actions. History tells us this is the plight of the Black man. It is also the plight of many people of color funneling through a legal system that has its version of justice: sometimes it delivers, sometimes it doesn’t; and that typically depends on those in power and who are privileged.
Some will say, well, it’s because one is Black and the other is Asian. We can’t undermine each other’s struggles. Let’s move beyond pitting disadvantaged communities against one another. Is this really justice? Are these kinds of laws flawed? Are we not doing enough to hold these systems accountable? These are very real and relevant questions that America is trying to process and seek answers for, post-Trayvon verdict. Let the families and communities impacted by it define what justice should mean for us.
“When you have a society that takes at its founding the hatred and degradation of a people, when that society inscribes that degradation in its most hallowed document, and continues to inscribe hatred in its laws and policies, it is fantastic to believe that its citizens will derive no ill messaging.”
Anousone and Trayvon. They were sons and they were loved. We must remember them and fight for the thousands of Anousones and Trayvons who aren’t alive to fight for themselves. They represent the people in our communities who continue to fall through the cracks, against systems that plague their livelihoods and stagnate their freedom to live with dignity and true justice. Democracy is being thrown around and reshaped to reflect the times. People have the choice to do so.
Hello everyone! We are excited to announce that SASC SI 2013 is only a couple months away and we are in need of volunteers to help make sure this program runs smoothly. The dates this year are Wednesday, June 19th, through Sunday, June 23rd.
There is also a volunteer training on June 15-16th in Berkeley that we highly recommend you all to attend.
Trauma rooted in genocide, Cambodian youth confront ‘historical forgetting’
For an all-female group [Khmer Girls in Action] of Cambodian American teens in Long Beach, home to the country’s largest Cambodian community, the target of their adolescent disaffection is their parents’ generational hopelessness.
Many of the girls’ parents arrived in Long Beach in the early 1980s after fleeing the “killing fields” of the Khmer Rouge regime, a genocide that resulted in an estimated 1.7 to 2 million deaths. Survivors of unimaginable horror, many have kept their stories untold, creating a generation of silence that has taken a profound toll on their children.
Nearly half of the respondents reported symptoms of depression, including loneliness, fear, insomnia, cutting and other self-harming acts. Most – especially young males – said they experienced discriminatory treatment at school, with 1 in 3 saying they were frequently stopped or pulled over by police.
Stuff about our body is kind of taboo to talk about with your family,” said 16-year-old Amanda Em. “We’re kind of reserved. It’s awkward to bring up, so everyone ignores it.
“It used to mean being poor and being seen as a dropout or a gangster,” Chhuon said. “But to these young people, being Cambodian means being a survivor, an activist, coming from an incredibly resilient tradition of people.”
Passages from Trauma rooted in genocide, Cambodian youth confront ‘historical forgetting’ via California Watch
Click here to read more → ___ The Green Papaya is a community blog and online forum where the Southeast Asian community may share its stories. Its goal is to provide an online space that engages the SEA community, fosters voices within that community, and also raise awareness about that community. If you wish to submit a post, click here.
From 1964 to 1973, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of ordnance on Laos during 580,000 bombing missions—equal to a planeload of bombs every 8 minutes, 24-hours a day, for 9 years – making Laos the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. The bombings were part of the U.S. Secret War in Laos to support the Royal Lao Government against the Pathet Lao and to interdict traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The bombings destroyed many villages and displaced hundreds of thousands of Lao civilians during the nine-year period.
Up to a third of the bombs dropped did not explode, leaving Laos contaminated with vast quantities of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Over 20,000 people have been killed or injured by UXO in Laos since the bombing ceased. The wounds of war are not only felt in Laos. When the Americans withdrew from Laos in 1973, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled the country, and many of them ultimately resettled in the United States.
Regions in Laos that were bombed are highlighted in red and yellow.
Here are some other startling facts about the U.S. bombing of Laos and its tragic aftermath:
Over 270 million cluster bombs were dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War (210 million more bombs than were dropped on Iraq in 1991, 1998 and 2006 combined); up to 80 million did not detonate.
Nearly 40 years on, less than 1% of these munitions have been destroyed.More than half of all confirmed cluster munitions casualties in the world have occurred in Laos.
Each year there continue to be over 100 new casualties in Laos. Close to 60% of the accidents result in death, and 40% of the victims are children.
Between 1996 and 2012, the U.S. contributed on average $2.6M per year for UXO clearance in Laos; the U.S. spent $17M per day (in 2010 dollars) for nine years bombing Laos.
The U.S. spent as much in three days bombing Laos ($51M, in 2010 dollars) than it spent for clean up over 16 years ($51M).
After being asked to vacate in December, the owners of the food trucks previously located in front of Sproul Plaza find themselves still rapidly losing money with nowhere to go.
The city notified Michael Koh, Ann Vu and Jack Huynh, respective owners of Dojo Dog, Healthy Heavenly Foods and Kettle Corn Star,to move off the property in December to make room for Lower Sproul construction. The vendors are now saying that they will have to take legal action if the city does not find them alternative locations or compensate them for their business losses.
The city, however, is under no legal obligation to do so, according to Pamela Embry, spokesperson for the city manager’s office.
“I’m still waiting to come back to work,” said Vu. “If the city does not bring me back into business, then we will need to take legal action, because this is not right.”
Huynh estimates they are each losing a potential $15,000 to $30,000 a month while they remain out of business.
The owners, who invested in the trucks last year under a four-year permit program with the city, said they cannot afford to keep paying the trucks’ parking permits or insurance without the alternative locations or compensation.
"Jonathan Tran, a HIP [Hmong Innovating Politics] organizer who’s also with the Southeast Asian Action Resource Center, thanked the district staff for working so hard on a plan that is so flawed. "To the board members who have not stood up to this terrible process…we Southeast Asians are a fighting people….because we are a people who have been denied peace," he said. We want to work alongside you. Instead of the opportunity to uplift communities, you have again denied our communities peace."
The Hmong, a hill tribe that has its roots in the mountainous areas of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. The most current and significant event that greatly changed the lives of the Hmong was our participation in the Vietnam War. After the United States lost the war, the Hmong were abandoned to their own fate and was faced with persecution by the communist government of Vietnam. Villages were torched, men, women, and children were killed, and all their possessions were lost. There was no way out of this persecution but to run and leave the jungles of Laos, so they made their way to Thailand to seek refuge. Through the help of some American government programs, many of the Hmong were relocated. Some went to France, others to Argentina, but many came to the United States. Being an American born Hmong child, I tend to forget about the Hmong, or Miao, that live in China. Except, that isn’t the only thing forgotten as well. Slowly, but surely, many of the Hmong-American born are losing the knowledge to our very rich culture. I myself am one of those Hmong-American born.
After the war, the Hmong were easily forgotten by the mainstream world. The deeds that Hmong soldiers had performed during the war was left to gather dust and most definitely to be forgotten. From there the Hmong tried their best to assimilate into modern society and, at the same time, maintain their cultural practices which were, at times, very difficult to do. One of those very things that the Hmong are slowly losing is the skill to sew textiles, or paj ntaub. Back when many of the Hmong lived in villages, sewing was a necessary skill for the wives and daughters to know because had they not known how to sew, then the family would be without clothes. However, in this day and age, it’s much easier to produce clothes without the need to hand sew everything with one’s own hands. A lot of the clothes and embroidery sewn by the Hmong is very colorful and intricate and it varies from region to region where the Hmong live.
Help out the tens and thousands of students in Sac Town by giving 10 seconds of your time by signing this petition (300 votes to go)
—- In a nutshell, at NOON PST, TODAY (Thursday, February 21, 2012) the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) Board of Education Sacramento will put up to a vote whether or not 11 elementary schools from low-income neighborhoods will be closing down.
Allegedly, it will save millions of dollars in funding for the district, however research in other states report that there has been little-to-no difference in savings. School closures would negatively impact these low-income, students of color youth and families.
I encourage you all to support Sacramento Schools by signing the Hmong Innovating Politics’ online petition, by 12 PM, PST, February 21, 2013 (TODAY), calling on the SCUSD Board of Education to vote NO on school closures, and to extend their decision to 7 months.
More than 200 Mien refugees from across California poured into south Sacramento on Saturday to hear from the man they hope will save their ancient language.
Herbert Purnell, an American missionary and linguist, spoke of his 26-year journey to compile the comprehensive Mien-English dictionary, an 855-page compendium of more than 5,600 words, 28,000 phrases and 2,100 cultural notes laced with myths, poetry and ceremonies.
Dozens of Mien seemed in awe that the 78-year-old scholar could speak their language. They shelled out $32 apiece for the hard-bound volume and lined up to have him sign it at the Iu-Mien Community Services office in the Lemon Hill neighborhood.
They hope it will become the Bible of a culture they say is fading fast in the United States, where their children and grandchildren are steeped in English and western ways.
"Thank you for devoting your life to the Mien people," said translator Koy Saephan. "Identity is not stable in the face of assimilation. I don’t think our culture will last beyond this generation."
What: Ăn Tết is a pay-what-you-can community dinner between The People’s Kitchen and VietUnity. This family-style dinner will feature live music, performance, and a multi-course meal celebrating Tết, the Vietnamese Lunar New Year.
Where: Oakland, California
When: Saturday, February 23, 2013 | 6-9pm
Why: The community celebration and fundraising dinner, “Ăn Tết” is meant to re-enliven the traditional foods and foodways that have been in VietUnity’s family members during this time of the Lunar New Year and celebrate ancestors who have fought colonialism and imperialism and honored land and people.
On September 24th of this year, a segment on the Yellow Rain was aired by the NPR show Radiolab, and because of the controversy of the piece, the original audio file has been amended. Among it’s guests were Eng Yang, a Hmong veteran, survivor, and documenter of the Hmong genocide for the Thai government, and his neice, Kao Kalia Yang, an award winning Hmong American writer, who served as a translator for Eng. Radiolab’s primary objective was to investigate “a mysterious substance that fell from the sky”, that was believed to be a chemical weapon utilized during the Cold War. It was killing animals, crops, and people throughout the jungle of Laos. However, as the interview proceeded, the hosts and the other two guests, Matt Meselson and Thomas Seeley, both scientists, settled at the matter that it was bee defecation that was the main cause of the so-called “Yellow Rain”, not chemical weapons dropped off by enemy planes. As the interview with Eng continued, his story and first hand experience in the matter was callously questioned and, in the audio, one could even hear one of the hosts claim that Eng’s experience was “hearsay”. The interview abruptly ends with Kao Kalia sobbing, saying, “He [Eng] agreed to do this interview because you were interested. What happened to the Hmong happened, and the world has been uninterested for the last twenty years…..We can play the semantics game, we can, but I’m not interested, my uncle is not interested…. I, I think the interview is done.”
Vietnam Gay Marriage News Brings Hope, Uncertainty To Gay Vietnamese Americans
The older she gets, the harder it is for Diana Bui to hide her sexual orientation from her big Vietnamese family. At 29, she’s well past the traditional age for marriage, and she’s running out of excuses to explain her single status, not to mention her short, asymmetrical haircut. So far, she said, only her mother, her brother, and a cousin in Vietnam know she identifies as queer.
But this weekend, that might change. The Washington, D.C., resident is heading home to California for a family reunion, and she’s ready to talk with her extended family about a side of her life she hasn’t discussed since her early 20s, when she first realized she was attracted to women. After the recent news, the subject feels almost unavoidable.
In late July, to Bui’s shock, the Vietnamese government announced that it may change its position and recognize same-sex marriages as legal unions. On Sunday, more than a hundred activists biked through Vietnam’s capital, trailing rainbow-colored streamers and shouting, “Equal rights for gays and lesbians,” the Associated Press reported.
So I won’t usually post things that’s about my personal life, but this is something that’s intertwine with this blog.
So recently my brother’s bestfriend brother/my cousins just passed. His family background isn’t all that great, just to keep it short they have a “evil” step-mother. Well his father and his step mother now go to church. But they don’t. Basically the sibling (my brother’s bestfriend& sibling) want to bury him the traditional Hmong way, since he did not attend church. But on the other hand the parent’s want to bury him the church way. There is a disagreement on this issue. It just makes me sad that the parent’s (mainly the step mother) can’t respect their child, and bury him a way he was not raise and/or believed in. If they bury him the church way he won’t be able to find his family on the other side. This is something that is unbelievably self-fish on the parents part, I believe. What are your guys thought on this? If you where in this situation, what would you choose? Please no negative response.
I was browsing through Tumblr, Facebook, and Youtube…seeing friends, family, strangers, singers, Hmong meska actors and actresses, models, artist, blah blah and blah~ the lists goes on and on…every one yog hmong, muaj talent, muaj great potential…yet when they start to speak, it’s english, I’m like…”Oh..ua cas nws twb yog hmoob, tabsi nws tsis hais lus hmoob li, es hais lus meska xwb.” Even if the majority of the viewers might speak english, I think it is a great idea to speak hmong even if you should suck at it. I understand we live and breathe in a multicultural environment, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pop in some hmong, at least mix it with english from time to time, if you don’t know the word in hmong. LOL~ I’m not the best with my hmong, but I speak it to show my culture’s existence. I want it to survive among the million sea of voices that tries to drown us daily. I don’t care what you like, what you do, what you have, but at least speak the language that your mother and father gave you.
I’m sure we’ve all been told from out parents and OG’s that we should speak english when we go to school, but when we come back home, we should speak hmong. It seems like the reasonable thing to do, they are right~ No matter how much you have created and transformed yourself for the world to see, your identity is hidden when you diminish the words and voices of your ancestors. It is a curse that we bring to our culture and to our future generations. How can we preserve our culture when we know so little. Or maybe we know, but we are afraid to show it~ Other cultures flourish because they are true to themselves, they grow as one even if the world changes. But I see that Hmong people grow, but they break away from their roots. And no matter how much you try to bind it back together, glue it together, there is always a crack in the system. Fashion, taste, color, and the world might change, but I just hope that our culture won’t change to the point of no existence.
I am part of a committee that is trying to get the Lao language taught at a university, and it would benefit the committee if you could take the survey. The committee is composed of masters students, Ph.D. students, and professors around the nation, so this initiative is very important. It would give us a sense of interest in the Lao language. If any of you know anyone around the U.S. that is interested in learning the language and is a student at a university or college, please forward it to them. Here is the link to the survey http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6DXW9CH. Thanks in advance!
Vietnam War’s Legacy Is Vivid as Clinton Visits Laos
VIENTIANE, Laos — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clintonmade a brief stop on her Asia tour on Wednesday in Laos, the first visit by an American secretary of state here in 57 years and one that brought into stark relief the enduring legacy of the Vietnam War.
At an artificial-limb center, Mrs. Clinton met a 19-year-old who lost his forearms and eyesight when a bomb, dropped by the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War and unexploded for decades, finally blew up three years ago.
The young man, Phongsavath Sonilya, gesticulated with his arm stumps as he explained to Mrs. Clinton that more than three decades after the end of the war, not enough had been done to stop the use of cluster bombs and to support those who may be injured in the future by bombs still lying unexploded in the countryside. The United States has not signed the Convention on Cluster Bombs.
The four-hour visit by Mrs. Clinton to Laos provided other reminders of the Vietnam War.