Sherman Alexie recognizes that Hmong are the Native Americans of Asia

Andre Yang | Photo by Mary Yang

Andre Yang

WHY I FEEL THE WAY I DO ABOUT SB 1070

If the hurt in someone else hurts us, in a man
we don’t know, who is
present always and is the victim
and the enemy and love and all
we need to be whole.

–Rosario Castellanos, The Other

Because my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Sanchez
compared my future to gold. Because,
when I told my friend Ernesto
about an uncle’s 3-day funeral,
he told me about his grandmother’s 3-day funeral.
Because of what Christianity has done
for me. Because there is corruption
in all organizations. Because we’re all victims
of colonialism. Because
when the first girl I thought I loved
didn’t feel the same way back,
Tommy Bernal surprised me with the first hug
I’d ever received from a friend.
Because no one else hugged me
again for another three years. Because
Sherman Alexie recognizes that the Hmong
are the Native Americans of Asia. Because
John Doe Xiong is suing the United States
for the right to go back to Laos
to die with his family on land he still calls
home. Because there are still
animals like the Saola that, when forced
behind walls, would prefer death. Because
I’ve read about the Native American man
who, the last of his tribe, refused to give
his name to the white remains
of humanity. Because indigenous peoples
are closer to the land & its spirits,
& in being so are closer to one
another no matter where they are
in the world. Because SB 1070 is hate
manifested on paper in words. Because I
believed for too long that I couldn’t do anything
about anything. Because a girl named Rosa
once kissed my cheek. Because I have not forgotten
what it means to “love thy neighbor.” Because
my cousin, Virus, never acquired
citizenship, was convicted of manslaughter
after a gang fight, spent six years in
an Arizona prison, & is on parole release
pending deportation once US-Laos relations improve.
Because no one stood up for my people
when they needed the help. Because the Hmong,
running for their lives in the jungles of Laos,
still need help. Because America
fucked things up in Vietnam, The Secret War,
the Middle East, & is desperate to prove
it knows how to finish something.

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