Minneapolis Lao-American fights human trafficking in Laos :
“My grandma wanted me to get education in the states and use my education and talent to assist the needy,” Seneyakone. “I’ll work with and train young people in Laos so they can become advocates for themselves.” […]
According to the VFI website, the organization has three major programs: protection and empowerment of women and children, healthy villages and local leadership and land and livelihoods.
“You’ll see very young girls, who were lied to,” she said. “Somebody told them that they would be working at well-paying jobs at factories outside Laos. But when they get there, they’re forced to work as prostitutes.”
Lao people who fall victims to sex trafficking are mostly migrants in search of jobs in neighboring countries such as Thailand, according to a 2012 United States government report.
“Many Lao migrants, particularly women, pay broker fees, normally ranging from the equivalents of $70 to $200, to obtain jobs in Thailand,” the report states. “But after their arrival, [they] are subjected to conditions of sexual servitude in Thailand’s commercial sex trade.”
Seneyakone said some of these people are eventually rescued, others escape. When they return to Laos, they’re marginalized by their relatives and the communities they live with. “They’re labeled as bad people — prostitutes,” though they’re actually victims.
Read more / MinnPost
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 →
Trayvon and Anousone, beyond an (un)reasonable (in)justice
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.
The whole nation followed Trayvon’s case. I can barely remember anyone in Minnesota who even knew Anousone’s name, but we all knew who killed him. People are in fear of talking about race. The sensationalized media dishes what they can bank on, but the best freedom of expression is with the people on the streets, witnessing injustice day in and day out. I can’t help but make the comparison, not between the victims involved, but of the limits and failures of a system intended to protect and serve its people, the lack of acknowledging a racialized society, and the power of community organizing when we speak up. As Bryan Thao Worra points out, “It’s time we call things as we see them, because things only get worse, not better, from our silence. Whether it’s politically correct can no longer matter”.
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.
The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates said it best in his article “Trayvon Martin and the Irony of American Justice”:
“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.
“April 30, 1975 - In the early hours of the 30th, the last helicopter to evacuate US officials and some South Vietnamese allies pulled out, and not too longer after, Saigon fell to the Vietcong. So as we remember the US soldiers and the war that the US didn’t win, let’s not forget the Vietnamese refugees, the Hmong who were abandoned despite their assistance to the CIA, the rise of the Khmer Rouge because of the US bombings in Cambodia and its aftermath, etc. The Vietnam War has a huge grip on the American conscience, and what we learn in textbooks that does not do justice to the million of lives who have been impacted by war, both here and abroad.
This picture by Hubert Van Es captures a helicopter on an apartment building rooftop in downtown Saigon where CIA employees were housed. Though the setting has been mistaken to be the US Embassy in South Vietnam, it essentially gives the sense of desperation that was rampant among the South Vietnamese this time 38 years ago.”
SASC SI Mentee Applications are out & accessible online! Say whatttt?
SASC Summer Institute is a 5 day, all-expense paid summer program that provides a safe and constructive learning environment. Participants will be matched with a college mentor who can offer guidance specific to a student’s needs. This program provides an exciting experience for students who are interested in pursuing higher education as well as exploring their cultural background. SASC Summer Institute is seeking motivated high school students with diverse experiences and backgrounds. Academic performance is not a factor in the acceptance of participants, thus, all are encouraged to apply.
Access the online Mentee application here:
***Note: You willy have to download the file as a Microsoft Word by clicking on the top left.
Lao Language Initiative
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!
A Lineage of Athleticism and a History Shrouded in Mystery
I love it when my Mom goes off when she watches a basketball game. There’s so much about her that I don’t even know. Intramural basketball player, volleyball player, and even table tennis. I remember her saying that even though she has had three kids, not a single one became an athlete or got into sports. I find that a bit funny sometimes.
Growing up, I don’t even know very much about my own mother, except for some of the basics. She grew up in Laos, was poor, had multiple brothers and sisters, trained to become a nurse before the Communist regime came over. She likes flowers, works at an assembly job, and enjoys her Buddhist rituals. She’s a bit of a hoarder, but only because she feels that there will always be some use. Better to have than not, I suppose.
I’d ask her about her life, but I don’t even know how I would even phrase the question. I’m pretty sure we’ll be closer soon. The only moment I ever had a deep conversation about her life was when I had told her I was worried about my future and if whether or not a relationship would be a good decision. She had told me about how she had so many dudes on her, but she’d only put them in the friend-zone and enjoy their company. From badasses to bachelors to brainy kinds of guys, she’s seen a bunch of them but decided to pick my father. Why? I never found out (yet), but last I remembered, the one remark she said about my father was that out of all 11 siblings, he never yelled at his own mother.
The one thing that strikes me different about her is that she’s got a heart condition. It’s been getting worse, and I get hesitant about making my own decisions. There are some things that I do that she does not agree with to say the least, wanting to participate in a violent sport being one of them. Some of our decisions conflict each other, but we’ve been getting better at communicating our thoughts and ideas. She’s been more encouraging and more understanding lately. The fact that she’s got a weakening heart is the most frightening thing to me right now. All I ask is that I have enough time to make her the proudest of me she’s ever been, and every day the fear looms over me. Call me a Mama’s boy if you really want, but we truly only live once. The last thing I want is for her to leave unhappy.
It’ll feel like our days are limited together, but I’ll always make the most of what I still have. We’ve been through so much shit and have come so close to becoming a broken family. We’ve come so far alive. I’ll hate to leave it broken apart.