Sisterhood: Empowering youth


The Mirror reporter  

“For us as Hmong girls, we are conditioned by our community to stay silent. By staying silent we are allowing hate to be normalized. As Hmong girls, we are told to follow the lead of our brothers and fathers, but today we will lead you to march against hate,” said Cia Siab Vang a senior at Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH)

On March 18, 2017, Sisterhood (youth Hmong girls who are advocating for social justice) held a rally for the system to call out hate crimes for what they are. “Hate crimes are crimes” was the name of the rally and Sisterhood pushed for the system to stop sugarcoating hate crimes.

“I knew I had to build a safe space for my sisters and me to talk about issues in our lives and others that aren’t, but has an effect on our lives,” Vang said.

Around the month of February, Vang and her friends started Sisterhood. The group started out small with only four members, Vang, Nestle Lee, Cameron Vang  and Pajnag Chang. As time went by they grew to a membership of about ten girls.

“[I joined] because I felt like it was a safe space,” Zouapa Lee, a SPASH student, said.

Sisterhood was able to create a space where many Hmong girls in Stevens Point are able to come and open up about problems they have at home or school. At home when Hmong girls are given limitations, Sisterhood motivates young Hmong girls to lead and take action on issues that affect Hmong teens in Portage County.

“Sisterhood has taught me that I have a voice and that my voice matters.” Nestle Lee a junior at SPASH

Neveah Yang a student at Ben Franklin Jr. High also agrees with Nestle. “I can see that I’ve grown a lot mentally and emotionally, I’ve become to learn more about the systems around me. “

Other than talking about social justice Sisterhood also does healing activities. “When working with social justice it can be really overwhelming. Healing and transformation is needed for activist to stay grounded,” Vang added.

“We really try to build sisterhood and that’s why we called our group Sisterhood, we need a space for just us Hmong girls,” Nestle Lee said.

“If we keep build our sisterhood and advocate for more opportunities for our sisters, Hmong women will thrive as much as Hmong men,” Yang said.

Sisterhood’s goals are to continue to provide safe space for Hmong girls, to fight for social justice and advocate to help others.

Sisterhood’s new campaign is to bring awareness to the school administrators to give marginalized student representatives equal access to the whole school board.

As students of Stevens Point School District they bring social justice awareness to their school, making sure that they get equal access and that they are represented in their own school. “I need teachers who look like me,” Nestle Lee said in a serious voice.

“Not only teachers that look like us, but to have sex education and have gender neutral bathrooms. Everyone in our school should be represented,” Zouapa Lee said.

Sisterhood members meet every Mondays, at CAP Services, a space provided by advocate Chai Moua. They’ve been talking about their goals and hope the school system will hear their voices.