Photo Credit: Vlai Ly

I cannot be Hmoob without being a womxn and I cannot be a womxn without being Hmoob. Therefore, I cannot not be a feminist. Let me tell you why.

These are my two social identities that cannot be without the other. Like carbon dioxide and oxygen, the world cannot be whole. Therefore, I would not be who I am today without both. Due to these two identities, I have become grounded in who I am, who I choose to be, and how I plan to empower other Hmoob womxn.

There are many layers in being a Feminist Hmoob Womxn. Each…

The greatest love of all is cultivated and grounded, cured by individuals we both literally and figuratively grow to look up to. For me, those caretakers and caregivers would be my parents.

My parents absolutely loved us — all five daughters and two sons. My parents made countless sacrifices and difficult selfless choices so that I and the rest of my siblings could live a better life out of poverty, hunger, and homelessness.

But there was always something different about their love to their daughters. It never needed to be said out loud or acknowledged. It was just always there.

It never occurred to me that my simple black graduation gown that was much too long for my height would be a form of liberation for my mother.

It never occurred to me that a piece of cloth that is only worn once in an entire lifetime would be worth years of suffering.

It never occurred to me that a required uniform for graduation would be my mother’s pride and joy.

The incident occurred a couple months after my graduation. My black gown had been hanging up on the back of my door on a plastic hanger. …

I once read a short article in a literature regarding a Hmong Womxn’s perspective on her personal experiences of oppression within her own community.

Mai Kao Thao’s story is told in a short section titled Sins of Silence. She states in her last sentence, “If to be a good Hmong woman means to ignore my identity, to swallow my pride so others can abuse me, or to shut my eyes in the face of injustice by turning the other cheek, I do not want to be a good Hmong woman [sic].”

I found this passage massively inspiring and empowering. For…

Dear Father,

You have sacrificed a lot for our family. You have sacrificed a lot for me. You have done many things that you are proud of and many things you are not so proud of, to make sure your children grow up with a roof over their head and food on the table. You worked hard to make sure your children did not grow up in poverty as you did. You were patient with us and gave us the things we wanted. You are a wonderful father. You did all you could for us.

But you also damaged us.

A family is supposed to be a group of individuals who unconditionally love you. They should be the people you go to when your world is falling apart. They keep your deep and darkest secrets and cherish your living soul.

But sometimes, as much as we wish for that to be the case, it isn’t. Sometimes, our families are the people to bring us down. Sometimes, they are the people to hurt us, belittle us, and break us.

Sometimes, we don’t get the choice between family members who truly care and family members who are just there because they have…

Kia Vaj

Hmoob-Womxn, Activist, Scholar Practitioner, Radical, Human Rights Advocate, Raw, Real

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