Refugees are often depicted in studies and popular media as helpless and in need of rescuing. In the song “Hmoob Zaj,” which was released on YouTube in 2019, Hmong rapper Shong Lee humanizes Hmong refugee experiences by sharing a story that has been “secreted” (M. Vang, 2021, p. 10) by the U.S. government. Through the public archiving of this story on YouTube, Lee presents what Espiritu (2014) calls an “oppositional narrative” (p. 163) that speaks back to the empire. He asserts a critical stance to challenge the dominant narrative, validate the experiential knowledge of Hmong people, contribute to Hmong collective remembering, and co-construct a Hmong diasporic collectivity that looks to the future without forgetting the past. Specifically, “Hmoob Zaj” is a testimony that reveals U.S. injustices in Southeast Asia and positions Hmong people as legitimate producers of knowledge not confined to the boundaries of Western ideals. This type of knowledge is essential to transforming the schooling process by (a) providing an inclusive, humanizing, and just understanding of Hmong history and (b) revealing the way dominant perspectives and ideals distort Hmong realities in order to uphold existing power relations.
Vue, Pa N.
"Hmong Narratives as Testimony,"
Journal of Southeast Asian American Education and Advancement: Vol. 18
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jsaaea/vol18/iss2/4