Growing up, I used to be a KDWB listener. I’d tune in every morning as it kept me company on my drive from home to college every day. I was a KDWB fan even before Dave Ryan joined the radio station in the early to mid 90’s.
Last month, KDWB made a mockery of the Hmong American community. Their so called parody stereotyped the whole Hmong Community as people who live in homes with over 30 family members and women who give birth by the age of 16. By the age of 30, they’re over the hill. I’m offended that they would mock my family and my community with such racist view and dictate how others should view my community and me.
I personally did not grow up in the kind of environment that is portrayed by Steve-O’s “parody.” I do not know of one family who lives in this kind of environment.
Like me before them, my pre-teen children used to listen to KDWB daily. They didn’t see this amusing or as a joke either. Matter of fact, my 11 years old and 14 years old said this is unacceptable and WE DO NOT DESERVE these kind of derogatory view and stereotyping of Hmong American women.
This is not the first time Dave Ryan’s morning show has spewed racist and stereotype casting views of a community on the airwaves. I along with many leaders in the community do not see this as a joke or something we can sit and let happen over and over again.
What KDWB did is re-enforce that racism and stereotyping of any individual or community is acceptable. You may claim freedom of speech but there’s something else that goes with freedom of speech which many American’s do not understand: accountability and responsibility.
The apology the radio station put out recently doesn’t state any accountability to their action nor do they take responsibility of what they’ve caused. They even suggest that because they’ve pity donated to several Hmong American families over the year or had some of the Hmong American listeners attend KDWB events that they’ve earned the right to make racist jokes about the Hmong community. They’ve earned the rights to poke fun of the community as if we were old friends poking fun of each other.
Some Hmong listeners are already attacking Hmong Americans who have called out KDWB as racist, telling us to go back to our country just because we disagree with their stance on the parody. Likewise many KDWB’s listeners who aren’t Hmong American seem to share this racist viewpoint and tell us that we should just have a better sense of humor, not take things so seriously. These divisions highlight the setback and damages KDWB has done with their so called parody/joke.
Reading through the comments from many of the backers of KDWB only enforces that yes, the message KDWB sent out does say that it’s ok to attack others based on their race, gender, social and class status.
And they thought that was funny?
Victori Vu is a leader in TakeAction Minnesota’s Hmong Organizing Program and a resident of St. Paul, MN