My Name Is Hmoob: Call Me Freedom

(Photo: Patience Zalanga)

(Photo: Patience Zalanga)

My name is not “Exotic . . .”
My name is Freedom
My people are worth more than eye
candy and shallow praise,
My people have no home, no country
We are from stolen territory
We are now sojourners in foreign lands
But we will not fit in the palm of a hand
To be controlled. We live in resistance
And die in resistance
We are offspring of Genocide,
survivors of imposed assimilations

Our legacy is the blood that streams through my veins,
through large arteries
pumping stories of forgotten people,

Hmong[1]
Kuv lub npe yog Ani Siab Yawg
(My name is Jonathan Shia Yawg)

Kuv Pog hu kuv Ani vim hais tias kuv yoj Vajtswv tu khoom plig
(My Grandma calls me Jonathan, because I am a “Gift from God”)

Kuv yah Shia vim hais tias kuv muaj siab, kuv lub siab siab tshaj
(I am Shia[2][heart] because I have life, my heart is the highest)

Lawv hais thia kuv paug hlub
(People say that I know how to love)

. . . Kuv lub peb Shia
(My name is Shia)

. . . Kuv lub peb yog kuv tsev neeg
(My name is my family)

. . . Kuv lub peb yog HMOOB
(My name is Hmong)

 

Footnotes
1.
“Hmong” means free
2. “Shia/Siab” means heart, tall or high, life
 
Jonathan Siab Yawg was born in Fresno, California; he is second-generation Hmoob-American, a college student, and has lived sixteen-plus years in Saint Paul and twenty-one years total on this earth. He has been obsessed with poetry/rap, music, and other artistic expressions since the second grade, and has been living it out slowly since. It wasn’t until three years ago that he fell in love with spoken word. When he writes, he tries to write from the realities that he has seen, felt, and lived. His work is not just for the Hmoob people; it is for all oppressed peoples so that we may be able to imagine and live out the meaning of true “freedom.”

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