What does being Hmong mean?
Really, what does it mean? If you ask me, the numerous things on my mind are:
1. Duh! It means that I am Hmong!
2. It means that my family does that tying cotton thread around the wrist ceremony.
3. It means that respect for my independence is nonexistent, regardless of my age.
4. It means that I am obligated to the culture of humbleness.
5. I can’t marry outside of my ethnicity.
6. I am supposed to cook, clean, and take care of the family.
It kinda ends there. Oh, were you expecting more? Okay, just for kicks here are several more.
7. We have freshly butchered chickens, pigs, cows, and even squirrels. LOL.
8. We have nothing against vegetables because it fills half of our refrigerators and freezers.
9. Oh yeah, by the way, we may have multiple freezers filled to the brim with junk—we’re hoarders of butchering by the bulk and saving meats, veggies and fruits to be used at a later date.
Oh please, please, pretty please, can I add this next one? Thank you.
10. We may know of a father, an uncle, a grandfather, a brother, a friend, or a friend of a friend who may have in the past, or maybe, from hearsay or rumors about these individuals who have traveled to Laos or Thailand to fulfill their double life as a pedophile.
I had to! It’s true! Isn’t it? It’s not something anyone likes to think about, but it’s true. This article isn’t really concerning what it means to be Hmong. This article is about an ongoing issue we see in today’s society in the news media.
Let me start on something so basic that we see at Hmong New Year celebrations and tournaments. Let’s consider music videos, posters, and pictures. A lot of these depict young girls dressed up half naked, shaking their little booties, and smiling ever-so-sweetly into the camera. What happens when the camera is off?
Are Thai mothers the only mothers in the world who are known to be willing to sell their daughters sexually?
Have you seen pictures of young women posing in the wilderness next to an old tree or a beautiful waterfall? What happens when the photo shoot is out of town? What if it is too dark to continue the trek back home? Grab a drink or two. Lose a piece of clothing or two. This is all it takes for a pedophile to do the job.
There’s a process called “grooming,” which pedophiles often use. They provide for children’s “needs” and “wants” to gain their trust and dependency. Then they make their move using the children’s guilt and innocence.
Sometimes, it’s just a small payment for the mother, father, brother, sister, and so on and so forth.
Lately, sexual abuse has been riding the news tide. You hear reports of sexual abuse cases from Florida to California. Now these cases are far away from me as I live in Wisconsin. These cases may be far away from you too, but going back to the 10th meaning of being Hmong. What makes you think that this father, uncle, grandfather, brother, or friend—maybe rumors—isn’t going to do their sinful deeds on U.S. soil?
You can’t hide from it. It’s in the news media every night. It’s in your city or township. It’s probably in your neighborhood. And maybe, it’s probably in your own household.
According to almost every child predator (please, feel free to conduct a research), their sickness is an addiction and a disorder. According to a member of The Whos, Pete Townshend, a registered sex offender, writes that the internet provides accessible child porn, “…like a free line of cocaine at a decadent cocktail party: only the strong willed or terminally uncurious can resist.”
You’re probably at the point of where you’re asking me: What’s the point to this story? I’ll tell you the truth! I was molested at the age of three years and again at seven. Even the deepest and darkest of places couldn’t hide those memories from me!
I didn’t learn what sexual abuse was until the fourth grade.
I told my older cousin, who was also my idol, an indirect story that a relative of ours was using my younger sister as the victim. She pulled me aside and asked if I had told anyone else, to which I quickly replied no. She told me that I ought to never utter it ever again unless I wanted to ruin a family and take a father away from his children and wife, as well as to become a kid where you are known as a home wrecker. I tried to bring up the situation again with a family member and was scolded by threatening comments in my native tongue which included these remarks: Do you want to be taken away by the police? You’ll never get to see your family again! You’re going to break up a family and leave the children without their father!
I took their advice and it never bothered me until the memories were stirred again when I was seventeen years old. The first man who molested me is finally in jail! I’m 25 years old now. He was arrested two years ago for molesting his niece. More relatives came out with allegations, especially the young girls who were his prior victims. (Parents denied the boys to share their misfortune due to embarrassment.)
In hindsight, if only I had the courage and encouragement to speak out, I would have saved all these young boys and girls. It’s important for children and adults alike to know that sexual abuse is not okay and that penalties against these predators are called “justices.” It is not called “your fault.”
It may seem like a random talk, but encouragement is empowerment. Let children know that they will be taken seriously by a loved one and if not, to speak to the police. Children losing their courage to voice sexual abuses are the most heartbreaking losses of all. Talk with your child or a child you know today, spread these words of empowerment, it doesn’t matter who you talk to, as this education can save another child today. Awareness is the key to fight against all child predators.