Monday, April 26, 2010
Did you know that April is Hmong History Month? Wausau has a large Hmong population, about 12 percent of the total population or about 4,700 residents. There are around 50,000 Hmong people in Wisconsin. Hmong people have lived in Wausau since 1976. This is something that makes Wausau so special and unique, it is something great that distinguishes Wausau from the rest of the tens of thousands of U.S. cities.
Is this diversity celebrated? This great culture mixes with the Wisconsin culture to give us our own unique culture here in Wausau. Is it given its proper respect?
With Hmong children making up the majority of the non-Caucasian population, I worry that some teachers in the community are not encouraging their students to learn about the culture. Are teachers promoting and encouraging Hmong History Month?
You would certainly think an institution of higher education like the University of Wisconsin Marathon County would encourage diversity and multiculturalism. I expected to see many posters and signs celebrating this month, so near and dear to the people of Wausau. But I saw nothing of the sort!
That behavior is irresponsible in my eyes, if not dangerous.
Thanks to the Hmong people for promoting themselves as such upright and honorable citizens in Wausau. Thanks to the Hmong people for adding so positively to the few states that have Hmong people. This is what makes Wausau so special and unique. How many people actually spoke with Hmong people before they started selling us all the vegetables we eat in the summer? How many people knew they were farmers? How many people know why they are here and why they came here?
This is an opportunity of a lifetime that I would suggest all the citizens of Wausau to make an effort to understand the Hmong and our own culture here in Wausau. Whether you are black, white, blue Hmong, green Hmong or pink, I recommend that all citizens of Wausau learn about Hmong culture, and your own culture here in Wausau.
Brendan Cotter is a reader from Wausau.