Their World, Not Ours - Crisis in Leadership

Article excerpt

Most Hmong communities in the United States lack the focus and leadership to address important issues, either on the local or national level. "There is no national Hmong leader," says Kue Chaw, "and many of the groups that have come together are not doing things for the Hmong community." This sentiment was echoed repeatedly by Hmong residents of California, Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Carolina.

Many Hmong leaders feel a sense of entitlement. Some routinely use organizational funds and membership dues to pay for their family's personal living expenses and entertainment. Other leaders have been involved in a variety of scandals, including collecting donations for fictitious Laotian guerrilla units and selling worthless military rank and government positions that will supposedly become effective when the Hmong make their glorious return to Laos. Of course, the Hmong will never retake Laos, nor would the U.S. government ever support such a movement.

These dubious activities, along with countless military ceremonies honoring real and alleged veterans of the Secret War in Laos, have further distanced the younger generation from their elders. …