You’d be surprised at how often I get asked what my ethnicity is. Although it usually comes out more along the lines of “What kind of Asian are you?” like I’m a flavor of a delicious treat, I’ve gotten it enough to understand where people are going with the question. The conversations are always smooth until I say I’m Hmong. That’s when things take an interesting turn.
- "Oh! So you’re from Mongolia." | No, people from Mongolia are MONGOLIAN.
- "M-U-N-G?" | H-M-O-N-G. Silent “H”. And, no, I’m not from Mongolia.
- "Where are you from?" "Minnesota." "Where are really from?" "Born in Minneapolis, raised in St. Paul." "Um, where are your parents from?" | My parents are from Laos and, no, I’m not Laotian just like I’m not Mongolian. Come on, let’s think for a minute. This launches the explanation of how Hmong people don’t have a country, we’re from southeast Asia, etc. Then the circle continues.
- "Oh! You’re Hmong like the people in Gran Torino." | I didn’t all of a sudden become Hmong after that movie was released. Also, thanks for the mainstream Asian stereotypes, Eastwood.
- "What do you speak?" | Hmong and English. No, I will not speak Hmong on your command.
- "What do Hmong people eat?" | I like Chipotle.
- "You’re Hmong, so can you speak Chinese?" | You’re German/Swedish/Norwegian all mixed and born in America, can you speak Russian? Yeah, didn’t think so.
- "Where’s Hmong?" | ………