Room: 417 North GAR Hall at 9 A.M.
Since Freedom, Inc.’s inception, young leaders of the organization have been pushing Madison Metropolitan School District to invest in education that promotes leadership, wellness, and creativity for Black youth and Southeast Asian youth. Schools have been a site of violence for Black youth, youth of color, LGBTQIA+ youth, and youth with disabilities in Wisconsin and the rest of the country. As people who are committed to racial and youth justice, it is our duty to address the current xenophobic climate as well as the historic violence towards the Wisconsin Hmong community.
Hmong Americans, like other Southeast Asian Americans, have among the lowest educational attainment in the country. According to a Southeast Asia Resource Action Center 2011 Report, 39.6% of Hmong over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma. The Center for American Progress states that the Hmong high school attainment is about 25 percentage points lower than both the Asian-American and U.S. averages. Just 14 percent of Hmong Americans have at least a bachelor’s degree, less than half the national average. These statistics state an alarming low graduation rate for Hmong youth. Given that Wisconsin boasts the third largest Hmong population in the United States, Hmong youth should have a more proportional success rate of graduation.
In addition, Hmong people have faced violent racism and xenophobia since our arrival to Wisconsin, including in and around school settings. Racist and xenophobic acts towards Hmong people occur all the time and are rarely talked about or reported. Listed below are only the most heinous acts in Wisconsin alone.
- 2007 – Cha Vang was murdered by James Nichols, who called the Hmong bad and mean
- 2014 – 130 pound Sao Lue Vang was beaten unconscious by 200 pound Kevin Elberg
- 2016 – Dan Popp asked where neighbor Jesus Manso-Perez was from, told him to leave, and commented on his lack of English before killing him, then proceeded next door to kill Mai and Phia Vue
- 2017 – Mai Houa Moua was shot at by Henry Kaminski who said derogatory remarks about Hmong people
To learn more about the violence against Hmong people in the USA, Cia Siab, Inc. have provided an in-depth report: Study & Struggle: Tracking Anti-HMoob Violence in CA, MN, and WI, 1975-2019.
We can take responsibility for the wellbeing and leadership development of young Hmong students by investing, developing and implementing culturally affirming education. Learning, hearing, and seeing one’s own ethnic history, people and ancestors contributes to making schools feel more relevant and creates a sense of belonging. AB232 is the educational foundation for cultivating bright and confident leaders with a strong sense of identity, who will bridge divides, break down stereotypes, and build stronger connections within Wisconsin’s diverse communities.