Violence surrounds me, a shadow that has followed me since my birth. I have experienced violence on several occasions in my life. Once when I was 12, I remember arriving home early from school. I was the first of my five siblings to return. As I approached the front door, a voice in my head said, "slow down." Then, I felt a knot in my stomach and I don't know why, but I was nervous. As I turned the key and the door creaked open, I noticed a trail of paper on the floor. Standing in the doorway, I could now see the entire living room and it was a mess - furniture toppled over, clothes on the floor, phone off the hook. I stood there frozen in place and it was then that I realized we were robbed!
There were a string of home invasions that summer, and everyone were scared because they said it was Hmong and other Asian gangs targeting Hmong families. A few days later, we heard that another robbery happened at my uncle's house, but the family was home and they were being held at gunpoint. Fortunately, the thieves were chased off by my grandfather and no one was hurt. It was hard to sleep that night and many nights thereafter. Though those incidents happened decades ago, it left a lasting impression on me, and I remember it being the first time I was overcome with fear.
With more and more news stories of violence in our communities across the country, it has prompted many to wonder what is the cause of these unfortunate and senseless killings. From the recent shooting spree by a Hmong man in Wisconsin to the rising number of women being brutally beaten by their spouses, it seems there isn't enough being done to address these issues. Our community needs to continue raising awareness and having tough conversations about intergenerational trauma, mental illness, post-traumatic stress, domestic violence, marital issues, police brutality, and poverty. We need to start tackling each issue one by one, and begin to collectively find solutions. The state of Minnesota recently released its first study of violence against Asian women and children, and they found that many women do not report their abuse to authorities because of cultural stigma, shame and fear. I believe it is long overdue to address the taboos in our community. Not to mention, the years of oppression and warfare that continue to traumatize our people. It is time to stop the violence.
It has been 40 years since the first Hmong arrived in the U.S. As we reflect on how far we have come and the violence that our grandparents and parents endured to bring us to safety and freedom, let us continue to dream of a peaceful future for our children. Let us honor the past and all the lives lost by teaching courage and promising the next generation a united community of peace and love. Join us - the Hmong Impact Giving in paying it forward and being a leader in sustaining our community for many more decades to come!
Minnesota Study on Violence Against Asian Women and Children: http://aapress.com/health/minnesota-releases-its-first-major-study-of-violence-against-asian-women-and-children/comment-page-1/