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A recent article in the Fresno Bee on July 29th, 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.
(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
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.
How can this have gone passed us without any notice or comment?
lol @ this. maybe you people making dubious allegations should try a different outlook on matters. try reading about paula. she's nothing like the person you claim she is.
"NEW::: Paula Yang is a championing the Hmong community
July 29, 2007 by shrnews in Suab Hmong Radio Debate Forum
An unexpected leader In the face of tradition and in the midst of scandal, Paula Yang is a beacon, championing the Hmong community. By Diana Marcum / The Fresno Bee07/29/07 04:54:36The old men who led the Hmong into war and out of the jungle were behind bars.
Even Gen. Vang Pao himself, patriarch of the Hmong, had been arrested by the American government for allegedly plotting to overthrow the communist government of Laos.
With that, the flashbacks began. The Secret War. Untold family tragedies. Video of Hmong today, starving and hiding in Laotian jungles.
Members of the 30-year-old Hmong-American community -- from elders who keep alive a world of ancestral spirits and village customs to young professionals with no memories of Laotian jungles -- were confronted by a collision of past and present.
In this brittle moment, an unexpected leader stepped forward.
Paula Yang, 38, peppier than a cheerleader, partial to 4-inch heels and flowers painted on her fingernails, led a rally at Fresno's Courthouse Park, and later, rallies in Sacramento.
Quick with a smile, chatty and always color-coordinated, Yang embodies a sweeping cultural shift in a patriarchal ethnic community.
The arrests of the Hmong traditional leaders are triggering change.
Teenagers -- once content with the birthright of the young to live only in the present -- are poring over Web sites documenting the Hmong role during the Vietnam War era.
Battered, elderly Hmong soldiers, who never cried in front of their own families, now shed public tears.
And Paula Yang, a woman from a community that historically has only known male icons, stands on the steps of a federal courthouse and leads.
"There was such deep hurt in the Hmong community. I knew what was most important was for us to come together, to hold together. Men, women, young, old, we needed each other, and we needed to show who we are," Yang said after the first rally.
Word of that first rally sponsored by the Hmong Sisterhood -- a social network agency Yang founded -- brought censure.
"You guys can't do this," Yang says important Hmong men told her.
Traditionally, Hmong women are expected to follow men's decisions -- or at least make it look that way.
"I was real calm and sweet and respectful," Yang recalls.
"I said, 'We're all suffering. The Hmong don't know where to go to be together or how to invite our American friends to join us. Bring your men together so we can talk.' "
Yang and Mor Vang, her younger friend and co-organizer of the Sisterhood, went to an unfamiliar house and sat at a table with 20 men.
"These are the big-notch guys. The ones who tell you where to go, what you do," Yang says.
Women prepared the food and stood around the table where Yang, Mor Vang and the men were eating. In traditional Hmong society, men eat first and the women serve them.
"I feel so weird sitting there," says Vang, 28.
"Like maybe I should get up and help the women pass the dishes and prepare the food."
"I know!" Yang says. "Did you see the one say, 'Bring me a Pepsi!' There was a Pepsi right in front of him, and he said it so rudely."
Yang and Vang observed the scene without comment.
But Yang tells Vang that their presence at the table was a start for all the women in the room.
"We are the ones who step forward now, but eventually we bring the other women with us."
Paula Yang and Mor Vang, friends and conspirators, sit in the office where they work as real estate agents, recalling the events of the past month. They laugh at their own optimism and audacity. They hold hands when the stories turn to things they had both tried to forget.
Vang was born in 1978 while her family was fleeing Laos. She has her mother's body type, full, with rounded curves. Her mother was the sort of woman most desired as a wife in Laos.
"Back then, they wanted big women like me because they lasted longer," she jokes with Yang, who is tennis-toned. "Skinny ones like you didn't make it."
On their run from Laos, Vang's mother was the only woman who had milk left in her breasts.
The other women pleaded with her to nurse their babies, Vang says.
"Please, please, my baby will die if you don't," they told her.
Vang's father forbade his wife from feeding the other babies, thinking it could cost Vang's life, but she couldn't refuse. She secretly nursed other newborns.
"The women always had strength, always made decisions," Yang quietly observes.
Despite asking over and over for the details of her family's journey, Vang never heard the story until one day while sitting in a Social Security office, translating for her parents.
"The worker said something like, 'How did you guys get to the U.S.?' and my mother opened up. We were all crying together, and I was translating. I was doing the translating of my own life."
Yang shakes her head and squeezes Vang's hand, not realizing that in just a couple of days the same thing will happen to her.
Circumstance seems to have sought out Paula Yang to be a spokeswoman for the Hmong -- a tribe of mountain people recruited by the CIA to fight during the Vietnam War. Their clandestine efforts came to be known as the Secret War. In 1975, the U.S. retreated, leaving Laos under communist control and the Hmong on the run.
Yang's parents did everything to keep their nine children alive on their exodus from Laos to the United States. In a rainy, disease-infested refugee camp in Thailand, they would stand all night holding a tarp over their sleeping children.
But once in America, her parents found themselves silenced and lost in a strange language and culture. Ten-year-old Pa Yang, who would later take the name Paula, quickly learned English and became their voice.
At 14, she was playing in her front yard when a police officer asked whether she could speak English and Hmong. She went with him to a Hmong household where no one spoke English. A trail of blood led from a newborn in a trash bin into the house. Yang helped find a young woman who was hiding under a blanket. The woman had tried to kill her baby born out of wedlock.
Yang recalls translating and explaining to the police officer that having a baby out of wedlock was a taboo that could get a Hmong woman killed.
She went to the hospital to translate for the woman. Years later, she bumped into the woman, who told her that she had married the baby's father and was happy with her life.
At 16, Yang married 19-year-old Wayne Vang.
"If you weren't married by 18, you were an old maid. That was my prime, when everyone wanted me."
Arranged marriages were still the custom in Hmong circles, and older wealthier men had approached Yang's parents.
But she ran off with Vang "to chase my freedom."
They had met in grade school, then Vang's family moved away. As teenagers, they spoke on the phone.
"Before we met again, I heard her over the phone," he recalls.
"It was her sweet voice. I knew I was in love."
Vang, a pharmacist technician, says he always believed in a marriage of equals. Yang says that for the first 15 years of her marriage, she was a traditional Hmong wife and daughter-in-law.
"I was so perfect. They molded me well," she says.
They had two children: Gabrielle Vang, now 17, and Brandon Vang, 15.
Yang worked outside the home in a series of jobs, ranging from legal secretary to studio photographer. Wayne Vang says that when she took a job with Proteus, a job-training and service agency in Fresno, their home life changed.
"Her passion for helping people started in before I married her. She was always tagging along, helping translate for people who couldn't speak English," he says. "Then when she got a job helping people, her passion returned. Her job, maybe, carried her away from me and the children."
Yang was also staging small rebellions against some Hmong customs.
She would put men and boys to work when she threw feasts, instead of letting women do all the work. She started speaking her mind to men, instead of pretending to agree with everything they said.
"Then I started thinking I had to speak for other Hmong women, too. But sometimes, I am sad," she says.
"Sometimes I feel like I left my family and culture behind, and my culture is very precious to me."
She and her female friends formed a loose circle of advocacy. When someone needed help filling out medical or government forms, when there was domestic abuse, when someone needed a translator -- Yang and her friends were the go-to crowd that Hmong families learned about through word of mouth.
Then, in April 2006, a fire turned a two-bedroom Fresno mobile home shared by 12 people into a twisted heap, killing two teenage girls and Shee Yang, a Fresno State student who was within a month of becoming the first in his extended family to graduate.
Members of the news media picked out Paula Yang because dozens of grieving friends and relatives were turning to her with questions.
She quickly assumed a role as spokeswoman for the family.
Breaking with the Hmong community's custom of insularity, she asked the community at large for help. She organized candlelight vigils. She sought donations during interviews on radio and television. She invited donors over for dinner. She ignored her job as a real estate agent for three months and concentrated on fundraising. Enough money was raised to buy the family a home.
Through it all, Yang wasn't sleeping. She says she was haunted by the ghost of Shee Yang, who had been studying for a degree in social work.
In her dreams, he would tell her he was angry that he hadn't accomplished everything he was meant to do. He said he was leaving his hopes and responsibilities on her shoulders.
She would wake up and feel weight pressing down on her.
In September, domestic violence orphaned seven Hmong children in Wisconsin. Paula Yang believed she was fulfilling Shee Yang's social work role when she flew there to help raise money.
She returned a few months later to host a workshop on empowerment and domestic abuse for Hmong women.
When Yang came home to Fresno, she lobbied to turn her group of advocate-friends into Hmong Sisterhood, a nonprofit with the goal of empowering women, children and families.
"We needed a name," she says. "It's different when you have a name."
The Hmong Sisterhood organized a food drive to help Hmong farmers hurt by last year's freeze.
They were busy trying to obtain grants to buy Hmong farmers seed money when news broke that the Hmong community's leaders were behind bars.
For Yang, the news hit hard. She grew up in a home where Vang Pao was revered as a leader and cared for as a family friend.
"There were broken hearts in the Hmong community. We were thinking, 'What can the Hmong Sisterhood do?' We can come together and form a circle of support."
Two days after the arrests, they held a rally, attended by hundreds. Behind the scenes, Yang obtained permits and arranged transportation. She attended meetings, navigating political factions in the Hmong community, staying in friendly contact with all.
Publicly, she urged everyone in the Hmong community to come to the rallies to show unity, and to wear white, a symbol of freedom.
She invited people outside the Hmong community to join them.
It was the first in a series of rallies, each larger than the one before, culminating in thousands of Hmong converging at the federal courthouse in Sacramento.
That first rally was sanctioned at the meeting where Paula Yang and Mor Vang were seated alongside the Hmong leaders. The men told them that the event the Hmong Sisterhood had planned was exactly what they had in mind, and so it could go forward.
"Your plan is what our hearts desire, and we look for you to be our spokesperson," Yang recalls one man telling her. People at the meeting say the words were carefully chosen.
Yang declined. She didn't want to act solely as their mouthpiece.
"My gift is that I speak from my heart. My only mission is to bring us all together. I cannot speak words that aren't my own," she told them.
The council, hurriedly called together after the arrests, agreed that she should speak from her heart -- and speak for their people.
Ge Her, 44, a Hmong leader from Fresno, said the final decision to trust Yang was unanimous.
"After the general's arrest, we didn't know what to do. Our life has changed. We felt betrayed. Our families died for Americans. We are thinking, 'What is going on here? What do we do?' We cannot think. We cannot even go to work. It feels like this country isn't our country anymore," he says.
"Then Paula stepped up. We listened to the way she is talking. She is a brave and talented Hmong woman. We're in crisis. So we said to each other, 'We'll give it a try and see if she can do it.' And she did real great.
"I have grown to believe that it does not matter who is man or woman but who is capable and willing. I have come to believe in the last month that a Hmong woman is able to do like a man or even better.
"Paula is the one. She speaks for us."
But even after the vote, in a nod to tradition -- or an act of cunning -- Yang played the daddy card.
"I cannot do it, if my father does not approve," she told them.
They called her father, Ge Paul Yang, a powerful clan leader in Merced. Paula Yang never got on the phone.
"Your daddy say he is right behind you. He say we must all be right behind you," she says they told her after hanging up from a long conversation.
That night in bed, her stomach tight with worry over whether she could find the right words to reach people, she told her Americanized husband the story of the negotiations.
"They asked your father and they didn't ask me?" Wayne Vang asked.
But he says he knew from the moment news broke of the arrests that his wife was the one who should step forward.
"We sat down in the backyard, and I told her, 'Honey, I know in my heart that they will call on you.'
"It is only she who can take us where we need to be right now, as one voice, one community. She is the right woman for this time," he says.
"We pay a personal price. We do not have time together. We have two children who lose their mother for a time. But I am proud of her. She can make a difference for our community, and that is something we both believe in."
At the rally, Yang stood on stage in tears, urging the Hmong to show their pain and anger at the arrests of Vang Pao and the others.
"We have to hold hands and cry together," she said. "Young, old, man, woman."
In the crowd, Mor Vang reached for the hand of the man next to her.
She says he didn't want to touch her, out of respect for her status as a married woman.
"I told him, 'Hold my hand!' and I literally reached out and took his hand," Vang says. "And I thought, 'OK, Paula is right. We can do this.' "
Across the courtyard, men were weeping, some of them with decades of pent-up tears.
"I never before saw a Hmong man cry in public," Yang says.
She moved through the crowd, offering hugs.
"These little old men want to hug, but they don't know how to hug. So I just wrap my arms around them. I want to offer love to the Hmong people."
They cried and held on to Yang so tightly that Vang worried about her petite friend.
"Don't hang on so tightly," she said. "She's getting even smaller."
Mai Thao, 32, who used to have a radio show for Hmong women -- and whose father-in-law, Seng Vue, is one of the 11 facing charges -- says that as younger Hmong women such as Paula Yang take leadership roles, it is the elder Hmong women who judge them most closely.
"If we make a mistake, we're going to be called on it. They are looking to the younger women to make a difference. They are very watchful. When they like what they see, it makes you feel right."
Mary Yang, Paula's mother, is one of those who watches, while seldom outright voicing her opinion.
Two days after her conversation with Vang in their real estate office, Paula Yang is at her parents' Merced home. Her customary flair is subdued. Her hair is pulled back in a simple ponytail. She's wearing an apron and helping Mary Yang cook.
The wood-paneled living room walls of the modest home document the Secret War fought by the CIA and the Hmong in Laos. There are pictures of Vang Pao. Two other framed photos show a tall, handsome, young Hmong man standing by a short, white man in Henry Kissinger glasses.
Mary Yang says they called the white man Tom-pa and he came from the CIA to train the Hmong to fight. The Hmong man is her brother Chong Moua, who died at 28, fighting with Vang Pao and American soldiers.
"Did you know a Hmong man could be so tall?" she asks. "He was handsome like John Wayne. When they killed my brother, all of our people cry, cry, cry. Our hearts are bleeding."
Suddenly, in the middle of setting the table with dishes of sliced cantaloupe, stir-fry and curry, Yang stands straight, her arms down, her hands splayed out and in Hmong begins to testify.
Paula Yang, surprised, translates.
"We are the lucky ones that didn't get killed in the war. In 1975, we left, following our general. Other Hmong following our footsteps, so many left behind. My mother died, my father died ..." Mary Yang continues, naming deaths and dates. She describes crossing the Mekong River with babies in her arms.
She speaks on, spinning out the years of tragedy, Paula Yang translating as tears run silently down both women's faces.
"My brother was so smart. So well-spoken. There is never a time that I forget his face. Two days after he died, Paula was born," Yang says through her daughter.
"I did not want my children to know the sad story of the Hmong. I want them to focus on work and school, and I want them to focus on being happy. I want to hide the sad story so that only I live through it and save them from the story. I think one day down the line I tell them.
"I want to tell the story now. I am very happy for my daughter. I think she loves the Hmong people. I think maybe this girl is a voice for the Hmong people. I think this girl has compassion."
Paula Yang translates, now racked by sobs.
"Thank you, mama," she whispers wrapping her arms around Mary Yang.
It's the first time Paula Yang has ever heard Mary Yang voice support for her activism.
Mary Yang breaks the spell by grabbing a photograph of one of Paula Yang's older sisters.
"This is my favorite daughter. The really smart one," she says. Paula Yang translates, laughs and gives her mother a kiss on the cheek.
On a Wednesday morning at Roeding Park, Paula Yang is playing tennis with a regular group that crosses all gender, age and ethnic lines.
This is how she learned to play tennis.
About a year ago, she was walking her dog. The older men who always play in the park needed a fourth player. They saw her and said, "Do you play?" Paula Yang said, "Sure, I want to play. It looks like fun." She'd never held a tennis racket.
"Everyone had the patience of Job for those first few weeks. But she got good really fast," says Paul Aloojian, 61, of Fresno.
Curly Harris, 77, of Fresno says Yang is aggressive, she follows through and the games haven't been exactly the same ever since she joined.
"She runs around hugging people. When she hits a good one, she lets everyone know it. She jumps up and down and does a little dance. Now she's got some of the guys doing the dance too," Harris says.
"None of us were surprised to hear she was behind those Hmong rallies. She has a good personality for getting people together."
On the court, Yang is hitting well, smiling and doing the Paula dance.
But after the game, she says, "I could hit really hard. Is it because I'm so angry?"
The anger, she says, comes from facing things she has tried to avoid for years, such as a British journalist's footage of Hmong in Laotian jungles -- the children and grandchildren of Hmong who fought with the Americans.
Now a growing presence on YouTube, the gritty, heart-wrenching and sometimes violent footage has been public since 2004. It has even been shown at Hmong New Year celebrations.
"I didn't pay attention because I'm so Americanized. I was busy moving on. And I was scared, too scared," Yang says. "They would put it in front of me, and I would turn away."
Back at her office computer, she clicks on the footage that she has now watched repeatedly.
A young girl with a bullet wound in her arm speaks to the camera.
"Look at her. She's so beautiful," Yang says.
"She knows her clan. She knows how they all died. I can't close my eyes to sleep. I hear her voice. We are them. They are us, and we haven't done anything to help them."
The Hmong leaders who were arrested had always talked about returning to Laos and saving people who were left behind.
"Maybe now, with all this attention, they will save them," Yang says. "We started off protesting for the general, but now we're trying to save the ones we forgot while we were busy rushing around being Americans."
The protests against the arrest of Vang Pao also turned into opportunities for Hmong to sign a petition protesting security laws that keep them from getting green cards.
Under Homeland Security regulations, anyone who has ever been involved in guerrilla war cannot start along the road to citizenship -- including Hmong who fought for the Americans in the Secret War.
Thousands of Hmong gathered at the Sacramento federal courthouse July 12. They watched videos of Hmong in Laotian jungles, signed petitions and celebrated wildly when they learned Vang Pao and others had been granted bail.
Yang shouted through a megaphone, "This is the happiest day for the Hmong people." People threw water in the air, hugged and cried.
"And the men came to me and they thanked me over and over," Yang says.
"They picked me up, and they squeezed me so hard. My hair is drenched, I lost an earring and it is the highest moment ever in my life ... knowing so many voices stood up with my voice. And that I can use my voice."
Hmong latest and breaking news log for Hmong world wide."
here's another good article:
President of the Hmong Sisterhood of Fresno
Paula has garnered a long history of service and giving her time to helping her community. The following are part of her grass roots and empowerment. She is not just a leader for young Hmong Women, but all women.
Fundraising - On March 16, 2006 a trailer home In Clovis burned down to the ground; Ms. Yang organized a fundraiser to cover the cost of funeral expenses for the three who lost their lives.
Advocacy - August 2006, Paula was directly contacted to advocate for a Domestic Violence Victim in Wisconsin. She is not only serving the local Hmong community but also further beyond her local borders.
This shows her empathy and ability to spread leadership nationally. She then returned in October to provide additional support.
Breast Cancer Awareness - January 25, 2007 and ongoing - Paula assisted in seeking resources for several Hmong women breast cancer patients in need of medical health assistance for treatment and surgery. Healthcare resources are important in this campaign. She feels that other cancers also affect young men and children. She is seeking support for more awareness and resources for these concerns as well.
Family Resources - March 2, 2007 and ongoing, Mrs. Yang facilitated PG&E ASSISTANCE to all Hmong in the Valley for easement of the financial obligations.
Women’s Workshops and Education - March 23-27, 2007 Mrs. Yang facilitated workshop for Hmong Women in Fresno and now expanding to all the community to involved all cultures and walk of life.
Agricultural Support for Farmer in the Valley - March 28, 2007 Mrs. Yang advocated and commenced a fund raising and collaboration with other non-profit agencies and donations distribution program in response to the Central Valley Freeze for Merced and Fresno Freeze victims and Farmers. Mrs. Yang helped facilitate a food distribution program to be given to Hmong Communities in Fresno and Merced a month later, but also wants to continue this act with inclusion of all people in need in the Central Valley.
Continuing so many projects to help the community is a great endeavor. Paula continues her quest to help others in the present and through raising her own family. Not only has Paula supported Veterans from all walks of life in the United States, she strives to personally be involved in their quest to be recognized as still viable members of the local communities.
For further history of Paula’s rise and humble intentions, please contact us our office in Fresno. Follow the links below for more on Paula Yang and her fight for her neighborhood."