By Suk Her, MN 2.0 Project Team
As part of my research with Minnesota 2.0, I have been examining and documenting Hmong Facebook groups and fan pages. Despite being Hmong myself, I am learning more things about Hmong youth identity.
My work on MN 2.0 includes gathering information from these particular sites by looking at uploaded links and pictures, reading the comments posted by members, looking for specific themes, and taking snap shots of the comments and the discussion boards.
In particular, with the research I have done, I am finding central ideas that are present and discussed in the majority of the larger Hmong Facebook groups. In the "Hmong of Today" group, education is one theme of discussion that appears frequently. There are agreements and disagreements amongst the members to why Hmong youth are failing or succeeding in academics. Ideas of culture and financial problems seem to be two recurring explanations offered by the members. These same concerns about education can also be seen in many other Facebook groups.
As a young Hmong male and part of the Hmong youth who are searching for a more solid Hmong identity, there are comments expressed by the Facebook group members that I agree and disagree with. Most of the time, whether for or against a certain issue, I can see why the person chose to say what he/she did because Hmong youth are creating and re-creating their identity, trying to negotiate what it means to be Hmong. For example, ideas of Hmong culture are an important and controversial issue that I agree hinders and/or motivates Hmong youth to succeed in the American educational system. Since the American and Hmong cultural values are very different, the cultural expectations from the Hmong youth individuals vary. In the process of trying to meet the expectations of these two distinct cultures, Hmong youth are met with ambiguity and failure, and many Hmong do not make it in the educational system. In exploring these and other issues through my continued research with Minnesota 2.0, I hope to gain a greater understanding of Hmong youth identity and contribute to the discussions and shaping of that Hmong identity.
Suk Her is an IHRC Undergraduate Research Assistant.