In this episode we talk about #NoDAPL, the deportation of Cambodian refugees from the U.S., and our experiences navigating the intricacies of first world love.
Below is the list of links for those who want to learn more about the stuff we mentioned and talked about.
Deportation of Cambodian refugees from U.S.-
Any questions or comments, you can leave it in our comment box below or send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photograph for this episode was made by co-host Sandy Oh.
(Intro: Qeej music playing)
Paj Huab Hawj: It’s on.
Mim Xyooj: Hello and welcome to Hoochim. Today is Sunday, September 18th, 2016. We are four Hmong women, or today we are three Hmong women, who like to talk about things that matter, such as…
MX: We are your hosts. My name is Mee.
Sandy Oh: I’m Sandy.
PHH: I’m Pa.
MX: And Linda is not with us today.
PHH: She’s busy. So guys, what’s up? Yeah, so there’s been a lot of talks on social media. I think that it’s gaining traction in like in the news outlets.
MX: Not, not really mainstream news outlets though.
PHH: Yes, yes. That’s true. That’s true. I haven’t seen in on my six o’clock news. Uhm, but yeah, so you know I’m… the Dakota Pipeline protest with the Standing Sioux reservation…
SO: Standing Rock.
PHH: Standing Rock Reservation, I apologize. Uhm, but yes, I mean we’ve all seen the democracy now video of oil companies bringing out dogs and having their dogs attack peaceful protesters. Uhm. We’ve seen videos of you know the National Guard in riot gear you know standing and protecting the oil companies and uhm it’s really upsetting.
SO: Mm-hm. And the fact that the National Guard is there to protect the oil company instead of the citizens that pay them.
PHH: Yeah, or like… just, I just was so bothered and taken aback by like the dogs. Like I think that that is uh was like for me like the most upsetting thing I’ve seen in a really long time.
MX: There’ve been a lot of upsetting things lately though.
MX: In terms of images.
PHH: That’s true. It’s interesting. I had a friend, a Facebook friend, who was talking, asking if folks were going to be driving up to like uhm North Dakota. And she’s like white. And I bring up her race because I think it’s important too right. But like she you know first talked about how fucked up that the government is letting this like take place. But that she also needed to be a witness to like the atrocity. And I was really bothered by it. I don’t know. I am trying to figure out what bothered me about it. I think it’s the fact that she’s white and she felt like she needed to like bear witness this you know. It wasn’t, it wasn’t because that she felt that this was really fucked up. I don’t know. That the protest is this spectacle. That it’s become this spectacle right.
MX: Well, I… So two things about that. One is people of color protesting is a spectacle for white people. And they want to be there to just say, oh yeah, I was there and this happened and this happened.
MX: Is because it may be cool or I don’t know, something. The other thing is that because she is a white woman and if she does bear witness to all of the bad things that are happening between the people who are at the encampment and the people who are trying to build the pipeline, she’s a more credible witness because she’s white.
PHH: Or that people are going to believe her more than they do…
MX: Because she’s white.
SO: That’s the unfortunate truth.
PHH: Ugh. That’s so fucked up.
SO: That’s why they’re everywhere.
PHH: I hate this society. I mean how have you guys been dealing with it in your everyday and amongst your circles of interaction with other folks?
MX: Well I live in rural Minnesota.
MX: And uhm…
PHH: You mean you’re a country girl?
MX: Apparently at heart I am.
MX: But you know a lot of things that happen that people of color are having national conversations about don’t really affect small town life. We can just turn the other direction and go about our days like nothing’s happening. And so, that has been what I’ve seen with this also is that nobody’s having these conversations and it’s unfortunate but that is rural white life for you.
SO: I feel like that goes the same with… I mean granted in the city there are conversations being had on social media but I think conversations is just what’s being had and no action being done. Granted I don’t know whether people have been donating to the uh the cause or sending supplies to the tribe and to the people that are there that are going to camp there throughout the winter. Uhm, but I feel like again, if it doesn’t affect my community it doesn’t matter to me. Cause even though the issue they’re fighting for is gonna affect you as a whole.
MX: Out of sight out of mind.
PHH: But. Yeah, out of sight out of mind. But I also feel like conversations are so important right. That like a call to action isn’t always necessary right. Or that like have these conversations you know I find it so valuable for my uhm 15-year-old brother. Why is this happening? I don’t understand it. And for me to say, well, where they’re building this pipeline is going to affect these people and it’s important that we you know care about these people because uh the land that we live on, the land that we call ours and the land that we quote unquote own was their land, and it was taken from them and that is something that is really important to understand right. And also not just that but future prolong effects that pipeline right an oil pipeline could have on the soil, and the water, and the land and then uhm the people that live in that area and the surrounding people and the trickle down effects, how fucked up that is. It’s important to talk about that. And I think having those conversations are really important and I wonder if like uhm I question if enough people are having those conversations because you’re right. In our community, in our Hmong community, we aren’t talking about it. I don’t think we’re talking about as much as we’ve talked about Black Lives Matter and it’s because it’s so distant from us, it’s so far from us. You know like even though we have families that go to North Dakota all the time to fish or we are now going to South Dakota to fish you know. But that place seems like it’s a very distant place and what’s happening there seems very far removed from our everyday lives.
MX: Right, and I think about how uhm us having these conversations or thinking about what’s happening right now is also dependent on our circle of friends and our circle of acquaintances right. Uhm and if we don’t know Native American people then you know… or if we don’t know people who pick up these social justice causes then we don’t hear about them. We don’t really care because they’re not really connected to us.
PHH: Right, right.
MX: And I think about like the work that I’ve done in the past or people I’ve met in school and that I’m connected to now and I see you know tribes getting ready to go to North Dakota and I’m with them on Facebook following like what they’re doing, you know like the money that they’re raising, and people who are driving down there and I think it’s awesome. Like I, I wouldn’t go because I don’t have like a direct connection but you know I’m excited that they’re doing this and I’m paying attention.
PHH: Right, right, right.
MX: But if I didn’t, if I didn’t know people who were parts of those groups that were going down there, who are like super invested, would I be invested?
PHH: Right, right.
PHH: So I’ve seen, there’s this meme that I thought was really great, was put out on Facebook and I feel like everybody should care about it. Nobody would put a pipeline through a military uhm burial site. Nobody would put a pipeline through that and if you did everybody would be up in arms about it and you know it would never happen. Like we are okay with putting a pipeline through sacred ground, sacred burial grounds of Native Americans. And I think about those two juxtapositions and the way we feel about those two things you know and it really, it really bothers me.
MX: There’s also this other meme that I saw on Facebook and it said something like, we’re not putting pipelines through white suburbia.
MX: But we’re putting it through you know American Indian reservations; it’s like we’re doing it on purpose.
SO: So as you know like a large union is against the pipeline protest and they’re saying that because this pipeline would create jobs, will stimulate the economy. Uhm, would actually better people’s lives. What are your stands on that? Do you think the AFLCIO…
PHH: Whose lives would it better though. And for how long too cause we think about like oil pipeline and we think about like right now North Dakota is maybe one of the largest state in our country that is harvesting oil from the ground…
PHH: Fracking oil from the ground and that’s a huge boom but how much longer is it going to be fracking oil from the ground. I mean I’m already hearing stories of how these oil fields are drying up and that towns that were booming maybe two or three years ago are completely ghost towns now. And you know so I think about that. I wonder, you know.
MX: Right, and I just got back from a trip to Houston and my friend who, she doesn’t work in the oil industry, but she says that thousands of oil engineers have been laid off in the last couple of months. Who’s talking about this? Nobody.
PHH: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
SO: I feel like it’s just a temporary fix to our energy needs and to our economic needs.
PHH: Right, right.
SO: There needs to be a way where it’s sustainable through the years without messing up our future and our water supply.
PHH: Yeah. I mean I think the common saying right now is that water is life.
PHH: You know and I don’t think we think enough about that. And I think that for us water is life you know uhm.
SO: I think people don’t think people understand that we get water from these rivers and it gets processed to be put in water bottles for us. If we mess up our water supply, our bottled water won’t be there for us to drink.
MX: We’ll still get Evian from France.
SO: Yeah, it’ll be like 13 dollars a bottle or some shit like that.
PHH: I love Evian. I have a friend named Evian.
SO: Is she drinkable? Does she taste like water?
MX: I read once that Cameron Diaz washes her face with Evian water.
PHH: That is why her face looks so nice.
MX: I mean she’s a former, she’s a former model.
SO: Oh. Explains a lot.
MX: We don’t have to include that.
PHH: Or we can.
SO: That’s great uh news.
PHH: So, there is the uh the North Dakota pipeline protest and then just really recently there’s been like a huge a mass deportation of Cambodians uhm back to Cambodia.
SO: Yeah. This is… I…
MX: Well this has been ongoing.
MX: And I think there’s just been a maybe an uh uptick recently.
SO: Particularly in Minnesota.
MX: But it’s been ongoing. And technically most of these people are refugees from Cambodia to the United States but because there is some sort of agreement between Cambodia and the United States… Uhm I believe the agreement is if they commit some sort of crime that falls into some sort of category that they can be slated for deportation back to Cambodia.
PHH: And is it usually felonies?
SO: It’s usually felonies. Uh I think there are some stories where it would be really minor or they served their time because it was so minor because it happened before they were 18 and now they’re like grown men who are 30 something or 34 years old and all of a sudden the INS comes and grabs them and say, see ya. So this was a big issue cause I’m originally from Rhode Island and there’s a large Cambodian population there. This has always been an going conversation, and issue, and protest. Cause my friend actually, uhm a friends I grew up actually got deported back to Cambodia and for a crime that was actually uhm he didn’t serve for that crime because it got dismissed, but they still got him and he’s now in Cambodia. And he grew up in the United States. So he went there in his 30s. So it’s…
PHH: Wow, that’s just so crazy right.
PHH: Living in the United States all your life and you’re born in this country that you have no attachment to and then now you have to be deported back to that country. A country that you have no attachment to.
SO: Yeah, that your family escaped yeah persecution.
PHH: That’s really fucked up. I know that the Hmong… Laos and America has a very similar like there’s a similar…
MX: There, there, they’ve been in talks for a long time to have a similar agreement but so far there’s nothing yet.
PHH: Okay. And this is all dependant on Laos. I have relatives that have committed crimes and have served that if this did happen, this opened up, that they would be deported back. That is in the uhm part of the punishment. And uhm they feel like they would never go back. That this would never be a reality right. But so then they have gotten married, started families, they’ve bought homes, you know they’re like working… now lives have completely turned around and are respectable American citizens. Uh but the possibility that this is happening in like to the Cambodian community could potentially happen to the Hmong community is like kind of scary.
PHH: And we should all be alarmed that like…
SO: This is even possible.
MX: Yes, especially since we similarly, similar like to the Cambodians we are here as refugees because of the wars and the hostile environments in these countries that forced us to leave…
MX: And that there could be an agreement to send us back…
MX: To, into danger.
MX: And you know it’s…
MX: The United States doesn’t care. Once we’re over there they’ll just you know… we’re no longer citizens and…
SO: Yeah. Thanks for the taxes you gave to us for all those years but see ya. Yeah, it’s insane. I mean especially with the Cambodians and their history with the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot killing millions of his own people.
SO: You know all these families like left because of that. And it was all started because of the Vietnam War.
PHH: Thinking about our community and why we are in the predicament we are in too right it’s because of the Americans. And like having this fear over our head that the Americans like with like the Standing Rock tribe right. Whatever we give you we can take away. (laughs)
MX: Yeah, it’s to keep us in our place.
SO: I think there are stories where United States can reverse your citizenship, especially those who have been naturalized. Just to send your ass back.
PHH: Guys I wish I was Taylor Swift.
MX: Pa, it would be so hard to watch you with Tom Hiddleston.
SO: He would be wearing the I love Pa…
PHH: He would be carrying me in the water and kissing me.
MX: And I’ll be taking the photos and selling them to the paparazzi.
SO: (laughs) You’d actually make a lot of money off those pictures. Especially if it’s Taylor Swift. I think it goes 10 Gs a pop for a picture.
PHH: I love her cause you know she’s so free. She was with Calvin Harris just a month before.
MX: Or during.
PHH: Or during.
MX: The same.
SO: I mean seriously, Taylor Swift, what it would be to be young, beautiful, thin…
SO: White and rich.
PHH: White and rich. Uhm and to like get any man you want.
PHH: To have men literally throw themselves at your feet.
SO: Exactly. She went from dating babies to dating OGs.
PHH: Mm-hm. I know like who was she connecting… so she was like connected with uh…
SO: She was dating Harry Styles, he was only 18 she was 22.
PHH: Nice. So like literally in the span of six months she’s like had a spectrum of lovers ranging from 18… how old is Tom?
SO: He’s like almost 40.
PHH: Oh really?
MX: He’s in his 30s.
SO: Yeah. 30s. Late 30s.
PHH: Oh, wow. Well, they were say, I read…
SO: You can tell how old he is by his receding hairline.
MX: The wrinkles; his crows feet.
SO: His crows feet.
MX: I mean I know on men it’s supposed to look sexy. But ew.
SO: Hell no. As an ageist… (laughs) just kidding.
SO: It was a PR stunt.
PHH: It was a PR stunt and then they never really dated.
MX: I hope so. I mean because that would’ve been… oh my gosh. She should win an Oscar.
SO: Seriously. For best uhm incoming actress. For best new actress.
MX: Best new reality TV star.
SO: Yeah. Not on a major news network. I know that the fear of going back to Laos but I mean even if you do go back to Laos, with Obama helping us out, at least we won’t step on landmines when we get there.
MX: So did he give this 90 million dollars to Hmong people?
SO: No, to Laos. Unfortunately, not to Hmong people. I mean most likely the Lao government will hire Hmong people to get rid of these bombs with that 90 million dollars if the 90 million dollars is given to them.
PHH: Wait, so I have a question. Is this a gift or like…
SO: Or if there are strings attached?
MX: There are always strings attached. Maybe one of the strings is that they’ll have to take back Hmong felons.
SO: Damn it.
MX: There are so many of us.
SO: So many of us.
MX: No kidding.
PHH: When Obama announced this and when he went to Laos I felt like everybody on my newsfeed were so excited they were so elated that Obama was wearing the traditional Lao shirt. You know that…
MX: Oh, I didn’t see those photos.
SO: Oh my god.
PHH: And then he was like salavong-ing…
PHH: And Hmong people were just so excited right. Here is my president back in my country in my land you know with my people.
MX: And it is significant because he is the only sitting…
PHH: Sitting president that has ever visited.
MX: Yes. Since the Vietnam War.
PHH: People were like rejoicing you know the fact that he was giving 90 million dollars to like clear land mines. You know I was thinking and I was like, why are we excited when it’s America’s responsibility?
MX: Right. It would’ve been more exciting if America never dropped the bombs in the first place.
SO: Yeah, exactly. Like Laos was the most bombed ever.
PHH: Right. I think that they bombed Laos more than they did in the two other wars that they had combined.
PHH: That was some crazy statistics and that people are still every day to this day being affected by these land minds. And if you go to Laos, and especially in Xieng Khouang, there’s fields where you are not allowed to walk in and that people have not touched because there were active bombs that not have been uhm…
PHH: Detonated or excavated…
PHH: Or cleared. And so I am always I get really conflicted because well I’m excited that yes, I think that it’s great that Obama is like visiting Laos but also the money…
SO: I feel like 90 million is so little to clear the amount of bombs that is…
SO: In Laos.
MX: 90 million is also more than ever the U.S. has given to Laos. I think they do continuously give Laos money to clear landmines…
PHH: Through NGOs.
MX: But it’s never been that much.
PHH: In my country. With my people.
SO: I feel like you know with those bombs still in Laos we’re saving the very extinct Laos reindeer that is roaming. I feel like those bombs are preventing development from happening and really keeping nature still at its best without it being targeted.
MX: Right, so maybe I’m a conspiracy theorist but there is a train that China is building through Laos and how much is that money to hurry up, clear out these mines, so that Laos can be developed, so this train can go through, so that we can…
SO: Make money off of Laos.
MX: Eat Laos.
PHH: United States ambassador for Laos came through the Twin Cities like maybe a year or two ago and he gave a talk at uhm at Saint Paul College to Hmong folks and he was really critical of Laos and China’s relationship. And I mean in the most like indirect way talked about how America needs to be on top of the ways in which Laos and China is building their relationship and how China is pretty much trying to take over Laos and America is not gonna let that happen.
PHH: So, you know…
MX: Because we’re still afraid of communism. Because China gets a bigger piece of the Laos pie? We’re still trying to free Laotian people?
PHH: Yes. That was like the conversation though. I mean you go to Laos as a tourist and you see the Chinese influence in Laos right but like the Chinese influence is also heavy in Cambodia, heavy in Thailand, it’s also heavy in Vietnam. It’s like heavy all over Southeast Asia.
MX: It’s heavy…
PHH: It’s heavy everywhere. Even in America.
MX: In the United States. In Europe. I mean…
SO: And now in Africa. They’re investing a lot of money in African countries.
PHH: Right. But America just wants to be the greatest nation in the world guys.
MX: I am disturbed that when Obama landed in China, he landed in China for that summit, that he didn’t get the red carpet treatment. He had to leave from the belly of the plane.
SO: I did not see that.
MX: (laughs) And of course you know the Chinese government was like, oh no, you know, like U.S. people said it’s not up to par for their security measures so they’d rather not have the president do the red carpet treatment and you know the U.S. government was saying the same thing but here… but people were saying was it a deliberate piece on China’s part to say well you know like we don’t really need you we don’t blah, blah, blah.
SO: China does own us so…
PHH: They do.
MX: Yeah, they have all of our debt.
SO: They have all of our debt.
SO: And they were smart to do that. Cause I start thinking about Taiwan and how they’re trying to fight for their independence and then before China bought all our debt the United States was really deliberate about we’re gonna protect you no matter what. But then since China bought our debt the United States has not been saying anything about any issues happening in Taiwan and China. I also feel like United States has a thing with North Korea because uh South Korea, when Obama went to visit South Korea, South Korea did not want to sign that one treaty where they can trade easily. But then that next week North Korea threatened a missle thingy and then the United States, okay we’ll sign it because we need more troops now in our border.
PHH: Yeah, yeah. So much politics.
MX: And then Cuba opening up. Oh my gosh, Americans love it. We can now send our corporations to build in Cuba.
SO: Make money off of those Cuban cigars.
PHH: Who wants to go to Cuba. I do.
MX: It’s kind of like wanting to go to Laos though. Because like you have a romanticized vision in your head about what your experience will be and the reality is that like Laos a lot of things are really old over there because they shut their borders a long time ago.
PHH: Right, right.
MX: And there seems to be right like parts of it where the romanticization seems to be real but there’s also the underlying politics…
PHH: Yeah, of that nation.
MX: And, yeah.
PHH: I just wanna go to Cuba for the Cuban cigars.
SO: That you cannot bring back to the United States because what was it…
PHH: No, I don’t think it’s…
SO: Before it was an illegal uhm…
PHH: Hm. Well, you know go to Cuba and drink some mojitos. I mean that’s what I… mojitos all day every day.
SO: Well, that brings to mind. Where did mojito originate?
PHH: I think it’s a Cuban drink.
MX: I don’t think it is.
SO: I think we’re going off tangent here. (laughs)
MX: I think it’s a Mexican drink. Like it’s a…
SO: Yeah, it’s a Mexican drink.
MX: It was from a specific Mexican town.
PHH: Oh. No! It is, it is a Cuban drink.
SO: It is?
SO: Why did we think it was a Mexican drink?
PHH: Because you guys are thinking about what’s that drink that…
PHH: You guys are thinking about that drink I always get.
MX: Modelo and…
PHH: No, that’s a beer.
MX: That’s a beer.
MX: So mojitos… There’s a Mexican drink that they serve in the Mexican restaurants.
SO: My sister’s mother-in-law…
MX: What about beergaritas? Where do those come from?
PHH: They’re American.
SO: They’re fucking American. But anyways talking about Modelo, so my sister’s mother-in-law goes pronounce Modelo as maum dev laus.
SO: Los haus cov niag maum dev laus. (laughs)
MX: So yesterday, okay white people and pronunciation it’s like nails on chalkboard for me. Hey there’s a Machop. There’s a Nidoran. Nidoran.
MX: Or Pokemon. Pokemon.
SO: Pokemon. Well, as long as they’re not trying to say that shit in Japanese. Like how in Big 06.
MX: There’s a Machop.
SO: Where do they get the Y from? You know that uh there’s a talk about Pokemon as an online dating app with Pokemon. So uh that’s in the process where you’ll like meet each other and like start having a conversation so there’s a Pokemon dating app.
MX: Really? That’s gonna be built by like a different company?
SO: Yeah, a different company. A dating app company.
SO: So have you guys like… talking about dating apps. Have you guys like gone on any dating apps? Or dating methods?
MX: I have never paid for a dating website. I know people who have but I’ve been on the free dating websites.
SO: Yeah, I feel like dating has changed uh significantly as technology has enhanced. I have, unfortunately, paid for a dating site. I’m still single so it obviously did not guarantee…
PHH: So can we talk about like the different dating websites.
PHH: I know that there’s uhm eharmony. That’s the Christian dating site.
SO: No, no. The Christian dating site is Christian Singles. Eharmony is just a more expensive, a more thorough analysis of people you wanna be with.
MX: They were, they were sued because they didn’t do like same sex…
PHH: Okay so there’s Christian Single. There’s eharmony.
SO: There’s Match.
PHH: There’s Match.
SO: There’s plenty of fish.
PHH: Plenty of.. That’s a free site.
SO: That’s a free site.
MX: OkCupid is also free.
PHH: And then are those the main…
SO: Those are the main ones.
SO: And then you have your apps.
SO: Your Tinder.
SO: Yup. Grindr for the uh LGBT community.
MX: Well, Grindr’s just for uh…
SO: For hookups?
MX: Mainly gay men isn’t it? Because Grindr isn’t for like lesbians.
SO: But there is one for lesbians. I forget what it’s called. Cause people were talking about it uhm. One of my teammates on my softball was talking about.
PHH: Uhm, you guys have only done the websites and not the Tinder app.
MX: I’ve not done the apps.
SO: Facebook did have a… a thing where you can meet people on there.
PHH: Oh yeah! And you… you met a very famous…
SO: I saw a famous…
PHH: A famous Hmong person on there.
SO: Hmong person on there.
PHH: Can you give us hints of who this Hmong person is?
SO: Uhm, uhm.
MX: Like his initials?
SO: His initials are L-P-X.
SO: Yeah. I think because of all the baby pictures he’s no longer on that. I’m assuming he probably found someone to have the baby.
SO: I think Facebook took that off because it wasn’t generating a lot of…
MX: That was through Facebook?
SO: Yeah, it was through Facebook. Yeah.
SO: I mean Facebook does own what’s up app.
MX: So I used to to be on Downelink a long time ago. And it was a website at first where it was kind of like kind of like Facebook where you had your own profile.
MX: Uhm, and then you could become virtual friends with your real friends. And then through them you know like you could see a friends list, you could friend other people. And then it slowly turned into I think it turned into like a dating website where you could search for people in specific regions, specific sex, specific age.
MX: Yeah. And now it’s like, and now it’s like I don’t know about (unintelligible).
SO: Before these apps like you were on these chat when the internet first created uhm chat rooms came about…
SO: Right and the usual the A-L-S. Age, sex, location. (laughs)
MX: I know. (laughs)
SO: Hi. A-L-S.
MX: A-L-S. A-L-S. Like ugh, really.
SO: I just think about like… or before it used to be phones right. Hmong people used to do the phones.
MX: Yeah, the G-line?
SO: The G-line. They used the phones and then like…
MX: Oh my gosh. Yes, I remember there was the G-line which was just like uh… which was just like a voicemail thing. It was just a voicemail thing cause you would just leave a voicemail and then people could call and listen to the voicemail.
SO: Oh, really?
MX: And… right?
SO: I’ve never been on G-line.
MX: And then I remember like uhm the cops got involved because there were…
PHH: Like two gangs. There were a lot of gangs…
MX: There was a lot of gang activity around that. I don’t know if it’s true, but…
SO: That’s why it’s called the G-line.
MX: Gang line. (laughs) Uhm, and then… yeah, and then now what the elders are using it’s like that uh…
PHH: It’s like uh… it’s…
MX: Conference call.
MX: And I call it the O-G G-line. (laughs)
MX: Because they are essentially, you know…
PHH: It’s like the… it’s very similar, where you call into a number and there are these rooms and that you have to like know the room numbers and it’s like pretty much like a password. So to get into these rooms. And then there is usually a moderator that owns quote unquote the line and she or he does the talking. People listen and…
MX: There are programs.
SO: Oh, dang.
MX: They have schedules.
SO: No effing way.
PHH: Yes. And it’s very popular with older Hmong folks and like I know that my mom calls in to listen. They have like a storyline where they like you call in and you listen to a guy or a woman like tell a Hmong story.
MX: Yes. Yes.
PH: You know. And then they have kwv txhiaj where you can call in and request a kwv txhiaj, a guy to sing a kwv txhiaj for you and they will sing and there are before that Paltalk and that was like…
SO: Oh yeah, Paltalk.
PHH: Older Hmong folk. It’s just so crazy like how the evolution of…
MX: It’s like lightning fast.
PHH: Yeah. And now it’s like everybody in Laos in on Facebook.
PHH: So they will add you and send you voicemails.
MX: And the online dating website that most Hmong people in Laos use is…
PHH: Is Tojsiab.
SO: Yeah, it’s insane.
MX: It’s, you know it’s… Tojsiab’s connecting young, impressionable people from Laos with older, predatory people in the United States and it warms my heart.
PHH: (laughs) Yeah, mine too.
SO: I wonder like with Tojsiab, do they pay extra for certain features…
MX: No, I don’t think so.
SO: Oh, really.
PHH: It’s a completely free service. And it’s really easy. You don’t need a email, you just… it’s just upload and go. You look at the website and you put your mouse over the picture you like and that person’s information comes up. It’s like so easy to use.
MX: I have so many stories that my parents shared about uhm…
MX: Yeah, tojsiab and online dating. And how there was this one guy… I don’t know if they heard this story through the Hmong conference call or what… but there’s this one Hmong guy who had a girlfriend in Laos and he went to visit her in Laos and they… they had predetermined a place to meet and so when she showed up, she showed up with her husband. And her husband was like oh, ua tsaug koj ho pab peb… like literally thanking the American boyfriend, thank you for helping us all these years with money.
SO: No effing way.
MX: Yeah. And the guy, the Hmong American guy had no idea his girlfriend was married. She’d been lying to him all this time.
SO: You know what. He needs to be upbeat about this. He’s doing a really good thing because he’s helping. It’s like a charity.
PHH: I mean in a way like save the children.
MX: You’re sponsoring…
PHH: You’re sponsoring somebody.
PHH: Every now and then you get a letter or a phone call.
MX: Or a picture. That may or may not be…
SO: That person. Yeah. You know what if I was that guy I would feel really respected because the husband came and said thank you.
MX: Yeah, man to man.
SO: Man to man. Like most men won’t do that.
MX: I know. They’d hide behind their wives.
PHH: Now, a really fucked up question is… did he let his wife spend a night with him.
MX: I don’t know, Pa. I guess we’ll never know. That’s between them and you know if they said yes to whatever, it’s great for them. If it works for them, great.
PHH: Did the ending get shared?
SO: Some people don’t ask the right questions. Yeah, I feel like there’s a lot of swindling. Not only swindling within our community but i think just in general. I think people are so starved for that affection, whether it be online or abstract or it be physical and real.
SO: People are starved for that uh affection that they are willing to go do…
MX: Well, I’m not quite sure it’s affection that they’re starved for. Cause if you have a wife and children…
SO: I mean…
MX: A wife and grown children…
SO: To send money. To actually send money to people.
MX: Right. And I wonder if it has more to do with like the male ego…
PHH: Like somebody needing to unhold that male ego.
MX: Yes. Being able to take care of people and like people uhm being grateful for you. You know like…
SO: Yeah. I mean there are women who send money too and they get scammed, domestic and internationally.
MX: Right, but I think, I mean, men and women are totally different. Like seriously, you know.
SO: Yeah. Women send money because they actually do care about whoever was on the other side of the world…
SO: While men are just there because it gives them that sense of power.
MX: And is that sense of power also the power to say screw you to your wife? I think that’s part of it.
PHH: Yeah, absolutely.
MX: Sandy, didn’t that happen to you?
PHH Wait, this guy masterbated…
SO: Okay, so…
MX: There was mutual masterbation?
SO: No. So, so, my experience is this. Mind you, this is different from older Hmong people and tojsiab type of relationships. This is uhm I guess first world love (laughs).
MX: (laughs) First world love.
SO: First world online love. So then okay. This is like a first world experience okay, so there’s no disadvantages, uhm…
SO: I’m not being oppressed, they’re not being oppressed. It wasn’t a mutual agreement it was like, hey do you wanna like webchat…
PHH: Well, I mean you are oppressing them if you are not masturbating for them.
SO: (laughs) But so what happened was, no masturbation actually happened. So uhm we were gonna like see face to face just to talk and then all of a sudden I see him standing up and pants being pulled down. Then I went, oh hell no, so I didn’t wanna web talk and so.
PHH: Oh my god. Was this recently?
SO: No, no, no, no. It was a few… several years ago. You know when you’re young and dumb.
PHH: Oh, okay.
SO: And my uhm…
PHH: You had at no point was like, hey let me see your dick.
SO: No, I did not. But uh the reason why I know it’s a trend is because there’s articles written about it.
PHH: Right, right, right.
MX: Academic articles? (laughs)
SO: No, not even close. Just the usual… articles you see on Facebook from Huffington Post or something like that.
PHH: But think about it you know you hear a guy going, oh yog koj hlub kuv tiag no hleb koj lub tsho ro kuv saib ho. And then you know the girls would be like, yeah, I love you. I wonder if the girl ever goes, oh yog koj hlub kuv tiag hle koj lub rig muab koj rab qau tawm ro kuv saib ho .
SO: I mean…
MX: Or would they use different words? (laughs)
PHH: Muab koj tus mi noov.
SO: Rho koj tus i ro kuv saib.
PHH: Muab koj tus aib…
MX: Kuv xav pom koj tus mi…
SO: I feel like Asian… I feel like away from the third world interactions…
PHH: Going back into first world love?
SO: Going back to first world, I think that would be asked.
PHH: Right? Right, right.
SO: Yeah, because again the power is still on the same playing field in a sense you know whether or not they seem to share that video or that picture out.
SO: In public. But I feel like a woman would ask to see someone’s uhm like a position like ours we would ask to see that person’s penis. One, to whether or not to make fun of it or to do you know…
PHH: Like if I’m giving you something you need to give me something back.
SO: Yeah, exactly, or like you’re in a relationship and you wanna see it.
PHH: Right, right.
SO: Before you actually see each other face to do it.
PHH: Yeah, yeah.
SO: So I feel like when you talk about the two different power plays…
PHH: Yeah, it’s completely different.
SO: It’s completely different.
PHH: Yeah, well you know I did this project where I asked guys to send me pictures of their penises and in return I would send them a picture of my breasts. And I feel with guys that you get their penis picture, the mentality is that wow, this girl’s asking for a dick pic and she must want something more right. And so they’re always like, man once they send you that dick pic they think that they got you. (clap)
PHH: And that you’re gonna somehow perform for them.
MX: Oh gross.
MX: I have never received a pick pic and I don’t ever wanna see one.
SO: Yeah, I mean like, that’s why I wonder like why do they send dick pics so often? Like whether you’re uh, whatever community sexuality you’re from that dick is being sent like 24/7. And I’m like…
PHH: The new selfies. I wonder are we no longer asking for pictures of somebody’s face? But a picture of their dick?
SO: I mean yeah, and I wonder like do women send… I mean we don’t send our vaginas to people. Our vaginas are not society’s view not pretty looking. I don’t know.
MX: I don’t know. Dicks aren’t pretty looking either.
SO: Yeah, yeah they’re not. But like…
PHH: Again it’s like this gender thing you know.
PHH: Do you feel like you are… you haven’t… as a woman do you feel like you have an in once you send a guy your vagina?
PHH: You know what I mean like…
SO: Yeah, yeah.
PHH: You know I think it’s completely different from men. Cause I feel like they think that once they send a woman or once a woman requests to see their penis and they send it to them it’s a an automatic in and it’s…
MX: But does it take place?
SO: Or sometimes they do it… the other side is sometimes they send it to harass the woman. Some sort of virtual kind of like…
PHH: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
PHH: I’m gonna show you what you’re like…
SO: What you’re missing out.
PHH: What you’re missing out. It’s like eh…
MX: So one time my sister got sent a dick pic and it was two dicks…
PHH: Oh yeah, your sister sent me that dick pic.
MX: It was two dicks in the picture and so whenever my wanna reference it we’ll say swords crossed.
MX: Because they were like pointing towards each other.
SO: What the fuck.
PHH: Your sister sent it to me.
SO: Can we put that on our website? Just kidding.
MX: Oh, yeah. She did send it to you…
PHH: Yeah. Yeah she did.
MX: Because I said you should send it to Pa.
PHH: Yeah she did. And I remember I saw it and I went oh that’s funny.
MX: Because Pa’s a connoisseur of dick pics.
PHH: I am a fucking connoisseur of dick pics.
SO: Oh my god, so I had a friend. And funny thing. But anyways. I have this friend. He doesn’t listen to this podcast but. I have a friend who I changed my number so he would send me random dick pics and I would ask him. Okay first I know he’s a jokester but I’m like is this your dick? And he’s like, it’s not my dick I just wanted to send it to you. And so I made a reference… he’s Asian and I made a reference oh yeah, it couldn’t be your dick because it’s too big to be yours. And then all of a sudden he started… of course all that internalized like whatever about his penis… came up out. That’s really mean. Everybody keeps telling me that when I was younger. And then like it became a thing where I had to console him…
MX: Oh my gosh.
SO: Yeah, I’m like but you sent me the dumb dick pic and then I asked if it’s yours and you said no it isn’t and then I made a joke because you jokingly sent me a really offensive picture to me.
MX: Yeah, yeah. And then you had to stroke him.
SO: Yeah and then I had to stroke him because he…
MX: To full mast. (laughs)
SO: (laughs) Exactly.
SO: No, not literally. No.
PHH: (laughs) Yeah.
SO: I know Mee you’ve done online dating.
MX: Oh my gosh I have the funniest story to tell you.
SO: Any stories.
MX: Uhm. So I was on OKCupid when I was living in the Twin Cities and then I moved to Wisconsin for a few years so I deactivated my account. And when I moved to Wisconsin I reactivated my account. I… I don’t know. Maybe my search filters were all messed up but (laughs) maybe I wasn’t doing it right.
MX: When I was searching for women I… there weren’t many, first of all, who identified that they were interested in women. And I remember one of two women that was on my search list… so I could’ve been doing it wrong… one of them was in a relationship with a white guy, they had a kid together, they wanted to open up their relationship up.
SO: There are so many of them.
MX: There are so many of them like that on there.
SO: So many.
PHH: Really? Who are…
PHH: For like a polyamorous relationship?
MX: Yeah and sometimes it’s not even like uh like a relationship relationship, it’s more of just like sex.
PHH: They wanna… okay.
MX: Sometimes it’s just sex.
PHH: Like we’re looking to bring someone into the relationship.
MX: Yes. And I was like, okay first of all Asian woman white man, okay. Second of all, opening a relationship Asian woman white man. I’ve seen that over and over and over again and I wish somebody would talk about that.
PHH: Yeah. Like do you wonder if that, if them opening themselves up to another woman is predicated on like this guy’s desire you know like to be with two women…
SO: You know to me I wonder if they’re looking for someone to be a part of it, will he be okay if she’s asking for another man to be a part of it?
PHH: Right. Right.
SO: Is this post mainly for your husband’s needs or…
SO: Or do you have another post as well for your needs?
PHH: I totally understand like the whole like we need somebody else but when you bring somebody into a relationship I always question the power structure…
PHH: And like you know I think that questioning power structure so important because I’m always like okay, are you fulfilling your needs or are you fulfilling the needs of your husband’s? And is this request a request that’s made by you or is it a request that’s like made by your husband… by your husband telling you that you need to like surprise him you know…
SO: I feel like it’s the man because you see a lot like… if I go through my own filter on online dating I see a lot of these posts where like I see two happy married couple on their profile and they’re looking for somebody to spice up and they’re always looking for a female.
PHH: I’m gonna look for a man.
MX: You know I would rather have swords crossed.
SO: (laughs) But have you ever met somebody through online dating in person? So like there’s a couple stories where uh I have a friend who married the guy she met online. I have my sister who married the guy she met online. They’re both perfectly happy marriages. So online dating definitely works. Uhm, if you meet the right people that aren’t crazy.
SO: So like do you have any funny stories meeting people online…
MX: I have to say that I meet a lot of people online and I have a lot of online friends that I have met or haven’t met. I do have these funny experiences with people, friends that I know in person. When I talk about these online friends they assume that I’m online dating. Like these are love interests of mine.
MX: And so…
MX: The interactions would be weird. And. and…
SO: Okay, okay.
MX: Cause in my mind they’re just my online friends but with my friends who I’m sharing these stories with, in their mind I’m dating these people.
MX: And so, and so they’ll say weird stuff, they’ll say weird things to me that out of context I’m like that’s kind of weird but whatever. And you know we’ll have these conversations and then I’ll rethink about our conversations and I’m like, oh my gosh, they think I’m dating these people.
PHH: Yeah. Like this idea that you can’t have online friends.
MX: Right. Right.
SO: I’ve done online dating since Pittsburgh where I went to grad school and… there’s a moment where I met up with him and he didn’t look anything in his picture and he wasn’t the height that he said he was. And we were downtown. It was nice. We had a couple drinks. And then he held my… went for it and held my hand. And I’m like uh okay this is fine. And then uh we went and then he goes… because I didn’t have a car. I took the bus home and it was late. He’s like oh I’ll take you home. Very stupid of me I said yes, you can take me home. After I got into his car on my way to my house I was thinking to myself, oh my god, what the fuck am I doing? So then I made sure that my hair was everywhere just like in case I get murdered someone could find me. Uhm, but luckily that didn’t happen. Thank god. But so I asked him to drop me off like a block away from my house, saying oh I live here. So that was like the only weird encounter.
PHH: You left traces in his car?
PHH: Just in case.
SO: Just in case.
PHH: You were very smart.
MX: Yeah, of course.
MX: I know people who do online dating and refuse to google people’s name or look them up on facebook before they meet them.
PHH: Oh that’s scary.
MX: And sometimes people say, oh, it’s more exciting that way.
SO: No, it isn’t.
MX: I’m like uh… no, you could be more dead that way.
SO: I’m sorry, if you’ve not seen a newspaper article on a person and like they went to jail for like 10 years on attempted murder, that story could be related to you. But I’m not gonna say anything. Yeah.
PHH: But I mean like recent dating experience. Sandy or Mee?
SO: I mean I have. So the whole meeting people for the first time. So I have a couple of weird first encounters. So I recently met a guy. Uh, he seemed really nice. We hit it off. We talked on the phone twice. And we text each other before meeting in person. And uhm I mean I found him a little off but I was like you know, I’ll give it chance maybe they’re just a little awkward online and on the phone. So I met him in person. I mean he was decent looking. But when we ate he just like reached over to my side and like grabbed… so we’re eating this rib and I didn’t eat the bone part and it was the soft bone part. And then he saw that I pushed the bones aside. Instead of asking whether or not he could eat it he just reached over and grabbed both of them. After eating it he let out a large burp. And he goes, wow, I really like that part (burp).
SO: And then he kept burping throughout the whole time. And it was like, I’m like I don’t know whether you’re comfortable with me… I mean that’s like kind of rude. The fact that you grabbed food out of my plate while I’m eating is kind of gross.
PHH: He sounds like a keeper.
PHH: Have you… Are you still in conversation with him?
SO: No we’re not talking anymore.
MX: A couple of things. One, he was taking initiative in the relationship.
PHH: You clearly missed the signs.
SO: (laughs) And then there’s another one. A long time ago. So this guy was really nice. I met him uh when I met him (unintelligible) he was really nice. He has a garden so he gave me some tomatoes and stuff like that. He was cute.
PHH: Was he white?
SO: No, he’s Asian. And uh so we went walking of course in a park. It’s a busy park. And so we sat down to chat and ten all of a sudden he put his hands on me and went in for a kiss on the cheek.
MX: He put his hands on you like how?
SO: Around my shoulders.
SO: And then he creepily asked, is this okay? And I said yeah, that’s fine I guess. And then while talking he goes in and kisses me on the cheek and I’m like dude I just met you the first time. You know it was like the weirdest experience. Got me scared and I’m like uhm… yeah.
PHH: But did you hook up with him?
SO: Yes. (laughs)
PHH: (laughs) Was it predicated on him going in and kissing you?
SO: No, it wasn’t. I find him attractive enough.
PHH: Okay, to like dismiss the creepy vibes?
SO: Yeah, and also he didn’t say come over and have sushi. He said I’ll take you and I’m okau of course so of course I drove myself. I didn’t have him pick me up. Lesson learned a long time ago. Uhm. And so I went to his place and we didn’t go anywhere so. Yeah.
MX: So back then on A-O-L chat rooms.
SO: (laughs) Yes.
MX: There were like a million chat rooms. I don’t know if you both remember or not.
SO: Yeah, I…
PHH: I never had A-O-L. I didn’t, A-O-L was too expensive for my parents.
MX: Yeah. There were A-O-L chat rooms and…
SO: I also did the whole Yahoo chat rooms too.
MX: Oh you did?
SO: Yeah. Uh-huh.
MX: Okay I don’t remember doing Yahoo chat rooms. I remember doing A-O-L chat rooms.
SO: Yeah. I did Asian Avenue chat rooms too.
MX: I think I may have done a couple of Asian Avenue chat rooms but I can’t… I probably did. But you know it’s so weird especially the A-S-L question.
MX: But it almost feels like group dating back then. That’s how it looked like.
PHH: Mm-hm. Yeah.
SO: Yeah. Everybody asked that and everybody responded. And then you would private… If you like that person enough you private chat them.
SO: It was really, really funny. Everybody… everybody… someone would ask a question, everybody answers.
MX: Or you would have like a group conversation.
SO: Conversation. And then if you really like this one person because you’re you guys are always having a conversation in this group you move onto a private chat.
SO: Yeah, pretty much. Or sometimes you’ll have two private chats with two different people from the same chat room.
MX: Yeah. Yeah.
PHH: Or you could be a catfish.
SO: I mean there’s plenty of those too.
MX: That too. But mine always went to like phone calls. I remember.
SO: I remember phone calls.
MX: I don’t remember anybody living close to me for some reason.
SO: I didn’t… I did… Only one time through the old fashion chatting that I met someone in person. But I was then again I met a person through an ex-boyfriend of mine and so. It kind of felt like that one guy.
PHH: You were… you were that story that Mee was telling.
SO: (laughs) Exactly.
MX: Which story.
PHH: The guy who’s been sending money to the girl in Laos.
MX: Oh… (laughs)
SO: The husband, yes. So I met the guy with the man that I was in a way broken up with. But uhm. Yeah, I know that a lot of stories during that old time of like chat room… I know a lot of my Hmong friends from California and they were in Rhode Island and…
MX: Oh really? They were actually having long distance relationships.
SO: Yeah, actually having long-distance relationships and you know seeing each other maybe once or twice and then actually marrying. But they would be in a relationship for a long time.
SO: Before actually tying the knot.
MX: Yeah. I do remember when I was in high school. I think I was like in eleventh grade or something but I had a classmate, I mean I wasn’t close to her, but I remember she had a long distance boyfriend who lived in a different state and they got a cell phone plan together.
MX: It was… this was way back then when having was very, very, very rare.
MX: Like hardly anybody had cell phones. And I remember they got a cell phone plan together and all of that and she would like talk openly about her long distance relationship.
SO: Yeah I had a cousin who was like that. She would talk about this long distance relationship she had with this guy in New York. She’s never met him but they’ve been talking for almost a year. And then they finally went to see each other. Yeah, it was like… That whole dynamic is really interesting because people would be in like really long distance relationships and how they maintain that was like…
MX: Yeah. I mean it’s so different from today where you can just swipe right or swipe left. (laughs)
SO: Yeah, exactly. And the thing is like I feel like maybe there is still a long distance relationships being had but I think having a long distance relationship virtually to me cause meeting somebody online and meeting them in person… Because I need to have that face to face interaction.
PHH: Well, I feel like long distance relationships then are so different from long distance relationships now because like then you so heavily relied on like the telephone and then also like heavily relied on like what he’s telling you right as in like…
MX: You can’t verify. It’s hard to verify.
PHH: Right. Right.
MX: That information. You don’t know how many friends you have in common.
PHH: Right. Right. Whereas now you… you know if he tells you he’s out apple picking and he has some pictures of him apple picking… today there’s like so many forms of verification and it just feels like you’re maybe a lot more closer together even if you’re like further apart.
PHH: Than as you were like before. You know and so you see images of his family and you know… I don’t know just like it’s completely different. And where you have Skype and you have FaceTime and you know you’re like able to see each other in real time and not just talk but…
SO: Yeah. You can constantly share your day with them in real time. Before you had to wait until…
PHH: A certain amount of time.
MX: And I remember, especially my younger sisters when they were talking to people online they would always send their photos to people through mail or receive photos through mail. You had to wait for that. (laughs)
SO: Yeah. To decide whether or not you liked that person. (laughs)
MX: Oh my gosh I-R-C… so we used to have friends who’d go to Century College to use their computers to go onto I-R-C. And I don’t know that I ever went on I-R-C but…
PHH: Yeah I-R-C was really big when we were in like junior high and high school because our friends would like literally cut school to go…
MX: And chat with people online in I-R-C. Whatever I-R-C stands for. I have no idea.
PHH: Yeah. Myspace. I remember Myspace.
SO: I didn’t really do Myspace.
MX: Yeah, I didn’t really do Myspace. I don’t think I ever had a page on Myspace.
SO: Yeah, I remember Myspace was just like talking to friends and stuff.
PHH: I remember connected with a lot of folks from junior high on Myspace.
SO: It was really Facebook that took me… because then I actually saw high school friends…
SO: That was really revolutionary that way.
PHH: Yeah. Facebook. It still is.
SO: I know. People are taking Facebook to another level.
PHH: It’s how I keep up with all my…
MX: It’s how I pretend I care…
MX: And not actually read their pages.
SO: Yeah. Or actually really care. You just like it. I care.
PHH: You love it. I care.
MX: I also love on Facebook you can announce when… you can have those moments…
PHH: Those moments.
MX: You get engaged. I just had a Facebook friend who you know just announced they’re engaged. And then you know when you get married or you go on trips. (laughs)
PHH: You have a child.
MX: Yep, first child.
PHH: These life moments.
MX: For adults that I will never see.
PHH: So do you guys think that you’ll continue online dating? Do you think that’s the future?
SO: I mean I have a lot of friends who… friends and family who met and had successful relationship with the people they met online… uhm, not long distance. Of course people lived in town. And so I’m hopeful. But as of right now I did pay for match but I’m no longer on there and I’m no longer on OKcupid. Because I feel like it doesn’t match the personality from me so maybe I actually want to try to meet people in person. So I do meetups and stuff.
PHH: You’re saying that your personality doesn’t on the internet.
MX: Yeah, my account on OKcupid is still deactivated. I don’t know.(unintelligible)
SO: I don’t think so. I think this last time, a couple of weeks ago, will be the last time I try online dating. I don’t think it’s proved to work for me. I’ve been in relationships with people I’ve met online before. But uhm.
MX: So that is it for this episode. If you have any questions or comments you can email us at hashtag dot hoochim at gmail dot com. You can contact us on our Facebook page Hoochim. And you can tweet us, follow us, on Twitter. Our Twitter handle is hashtag underscore hoochim. You can also find us on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher, many other places.
PHH: Until next time. Bye.
SO: Be safe with online dating.
 maum dev laus = “old bitch”
 los haus cov niag maum dev laus = “come drink these old bitches”
 kwvj txhiaj = a type of Hmong folk song
 ua tsaig koj ho pab peb = “thank you for helping us”
 yog koj hlub kuv tiag no hleb koj lub tsho ro kuv saib ho = “if you love me take off your shirt so I can see”
 yog koj hlub kuv tiag hle koj lub rig muab koj rab qau tawm ro kuv saib ho = “if you love me take off your pants and pull out your penis so I can see”
 Muab koj tus mi noov = “take your penis”
 Rho koj tus i ro kuv saib = “take out your thing for me to see”
 Muab koj tus aib… = “take your thing…”
 Kuv xav pom koj tus mi… = “I want to see your…”