Last week, Victori Vu’s response to the KDWB song “30 Hmongs in a House,” And You Thought That Was Funny? appeared on this blog. The lyrics of the song were an attack on Hmong people and culture, and a misogynist objectification of Hmong-American women. The song was badly rhymed, ineptly metered, and is still, one week later, not at all funny.
Words hurt. Having your culture and community degraded and stereotyped hurts. That hurt matters. It spills into our collective practices and into our civil society and tears at our sense of connection to and appreciation of one another. The worst part is, you’re told it’s your fault. Suck it up. Don’t be so sensitive. Why are you making such a big deal out of this? Like, lighten up dude. Oppression on top of oppression in the form of dismissal. Thanks but no thanks.
I’m white. I get to walk around with all sorts of privilege. I don’t have to see it, or claim it, or ask for it. It is simply the air that I breathe. Yet as a queer woman and member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two Spirit, Intersex, and Queer community, I know what it’s like to be made fun of for who you are. What really tweaks me though, is when I’m told that it’s ok to be gay as long as I’m not queer – when I’m told not to be sparkly or swishy or sex-positive, because that would be playing into the stereotype.
It shouldn’t matter whether I fit x stereotype or y stereotype, because I shouldn’t be on trial in the first place. The problem is a culture that enforces a negative value to the stereotype, that says “you are” without listening to my “I am.” The problem is you thinking that you have right to determine my value in the first place.
I stand with the Hmong community in demanding that KDWB makes meaningful reparations for the harm it has caused our shared communities in the Twin Cities. On Friday, April 15th, at 7a.m., I’ll be rallying with hundreds of diverse community members outside the KDWB offices at 1600 Utica Ave. S. in Minneapolis. Hope to see you there.
Liz Loeb is a member of Take Action Minnesota and a leader with the Justice 4 All team. She is also the Policy and Organizing Director of Protect Minnesota, a statewide organization working to end gun violence.