Paula Yang is a faithful Hmong daughter, an advocate for women, and a force of nature; petite in stature, feminine in appearance, with a backbone of steel. Paula’s beautiful fingernails dazzled me just as much as her fiery speech. Her cellphone rang multiple times during our conversation: a news reporter, a city councilman, an elderly Hmong woman needing transportation. Paula addressed each mini-crisis and returned to our conversation without missing a beat.
Paula’s parents and their nine children migrated from Laos to Anaheim in 1976. Her father was a general in the Laotian army. The Hmong were US allies during our military incursion into Southeast Asia and many came here as war refugees. “In another country, your parents are stripped of their title. They cannot communicate. The children become the conduit for communication.” The Hmong culture is rooted in male dominant hierarchy; life in the United States was difficult for the former general at every level.
In the 1980’s, California’s Hmong community centered in Merced. “I was depressed, I liked Southern California.” But Paula moved to the Central Valley with her family. She fell in love with a boy who suffered epilepsy. Her family would not give its blessing, so she broke it off. She started working for her community.
After 2005 there were no more refugees and Paula’s focus turned to finding ways for her people to navigate American culture. In 2007, Paula’s father was arrested. It became her call to action, to raise consciousness in the United States about what her father, and other Hmong military men, did to aid our nation. She held rallies, got on television and eventually the charges were dropped. Paula continued to tell the story of the Hmong in the Vietnam War public. She has used every form of media to promote the honor of her father and other Hmong veterans.
At the same time she continued to work with Hmong women and children. Like most minorities who live in a community for more than a generation, the Hmong in Merced are beginning to infiltrate the region’s economic and political life. Paula hosts a local TV how that highlights the Hmong community and recently developed, ‘Stand by your Woman, Stand by your Daughter’ to help Hmong men and women adapt to life in the United States while retaining their Hmong identity.
How will we live tomorrow?
“I want to find my passion and purpose. I am serving my people. It’s difficult, as a Hmong woman, where we are second-class citizens. I listen to women from all over the country who are suffering. Tomorrow we need to respect and understand our culture. What would be ideal would be to combine our cultures, to join them.”
A recent article in the Fresno Bee, cheerfully announced
> that Paula Yang is the new Hmong spokesperson. Before any such claims
> become valid, we must make sure that the person others are proclaiming
> as our spokersperson is one of integrity and character. It is more an
> embarrassment and a mockery than anything else because she surely is
> not one that has the character and integrity of a leader.
> Recent and current allegations against Paula Yang are not very
> convincing me that Paula is the right person to be speaking on behalf
> of the Hmong. Simply put, we don’t need a spokesperson. She can lead
> rallies all she wants, but on behalf of all the Hmong, do not start
> calling her our spokesperson.
> Here are the allegations:
> (1) Paula mishandled donations to Shee Yee Yang and nieces who died in
> the trailer burning in Clovis, CA.
> (2) Paula was terminated from her previous employment at Valley
> Children’s Hospital after getting caught for improper conduct (sexual
> relations at a workplace).
> (3) Paula mishandled profits for sales of t-shirts at the recent
> rallys for General Vang Pao.
> (4) Paula mishandled donations for the young Frsno high school girl
> who was killed in Southern California.
> (5) Paula has had open adulterous relations.
> Now, there seems to be a pattern here. If it smells like a pig,
> snorts like a pig, looks like a pig and walks like a pig… it must be
> a pig.
> Do not get me wrong. Her recent work is worthy of a compliment or
> two. However, she cannot be anywhere near money or men. She will
> screw you and steal all the money. Then she will look for the next
> tragedy to suck people’s money. I just can’t believe she has not been
> sued or arrested.
I cannot comments on any of the issues you raise. My profile is based on one meeting with Ms. Yang and her thoughts on my question. However, I ‘approve’ all legitimate comments on this site.