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Interview with Ge Yang




Ge Yang in an 18 year old senior at South High School. He immigrated to the United States with his parents in 1975. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Ge Yang talks about his life in Minnesota, and what it means to be a Hmong man. Ge Yang discusses various aspects of the Hmong culture, in particular the traditional customs of marriage and also the importance of the Hmong culture to him and how it affects his future. He advises all young people to stay away from gangs and to listen to the advice that their parents offer to them.





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Ge Yang Ge Yang


Interviewer: Charles Numrich This interview took place September 10, 1992 at Charles Numrich's home.

For the record, what is your name and age? My name is Ge Yang and I am 18 years old

American way, right? right now.

2. When did you come to the United States? I came in 1975, I think. I was just born when we got here.

3. You were born here or in Laos? I was born in Laos in 1974 and came here in 1975. 4. Your family came from where to the United States? From Thailand, I think. 5. Do you know who sponsored your family?

Yes, my brother. 6. And what is his name? Zho Yang Her. 7. How many family members came with you? I think only we did. 8. You and who else? That's all I know; me and my mom and dad. 9. Have lots of family members join you since then? Not until we moved here to Minnesota; then a lot of family came here.

Ge Yang


10. Who has come?

Nhia Yer, Shoua Yang and a few people. Cousins. One is my dad's brother and his family. 11. Did your family sponsor them? Yeah, mom and dad sponsored them and they came and lived with us for a while.
12. Are your family American citizens?

Not yet. Going to be, but not yet.
13. Are you in school right now?

Yeah, well, half in school right now.
14. What school?

South High.
15. What grade?

I'm a senior.

I'll graduate in '93

16. What other schools have you gone to?

I went to Webster school; an elementary school and when I was in Junior High I went to Anwatin for two years.
17. Have you enjoyed school?

Yeah, school is pretty cool cause you can go and meet new friends and learn new stuff. So school is not bad to me. I really like it.
18. What do you like most about it?

Most? I don't know. It's like, almost everthing is cool. It's that if you go and see alot of your friends, you don't get bored. Just like staying home. I just like meeting old and new friends coming in. That's what I like about it.

Ge Yang


19. Does

that mean American friends


Hmong friends?

Yeah, both friends. 20. Are there things you don't like about school?

Nothing; there's nothing about school I don't like. 21. What are your favorite subjects?

I'm studying to be in law enforcement. So they say I have to have one more year of that. So my best [subjects] are law enforcement and computer typing. That's my best things. Otherwise, everything is OK for me. 22. What do you studying in law enforcement?

To be a policeman, I guess. 23. Yes. 24. What are you learning in that? And Have you taken any classes in that yet?

Right now we're just learning how to defend yourselves. learning how to give a report to somebody. 25. A written report?

Yeah, a written report; that. 26.

like an accident report or something like

Where do you take those classes?

At the St. Paul Reserve Office in downtown St. Paul.

Ge Yang


27. After you leave high school, will you go to school some more? Yeah, I'm planning to go two years to technical college for business training first, and after that, maybe to law enforcement office. So, maybe two years for college. 28. Why do you want to take business training classes?

Because, the way I was thinking, most of the colleges, they don't have those kinds of jobs for you if you live in the Twin Cities here. Right now, most of what they have is beyond 200 [level courses] like computer training, or something like that. So I was planning, if I was computer-trained, I might get the job. Not that [many] people like business, so I can just take them as I want them.


So you would rather take the business courses?

Yeah, I'd rather take the business courses. But sometimes, business involves the computer. But not to be a programmer. 30. Do you find computers interesting?

Yeah, it's interesting, especially when you know what you're doing! 31. What's the hardest thing for you, living the United States? Well, being in America is pretty hard. You can't accept to become a real American, because, no matter how hard you try you always know that you're not a part of America, you still have part of Hmong. So, the hardest part is that if you know too much of America, you will forget your culture and you don't know what you're doing behind your culture. That's the hardest part to me for America. As for a Hmong person, I just need to know more about myself before I go to somebody else's [culture]. That's all for me.

Ge Yang


32. Do you mean know more about you as a Hmong person? Yeah, as a Hmong person. Sometimes I don't recognize I'm a Hmong person, you know, when I go to a friend's house, that's a white boy's house; I go to play and I don't think I'm a Hmong person, because you don't hardly talk to a Hmong person at all; you're too busy hanging out with them. 33. So are you trying to learn more about that now?

Yeah, I try to learn more; I try to [know] exactly which family I came from for sure; who's my grandpa and grandma. Sometimes I don't really know. It's really embarrassing when you go to hang around with Hmong people and they ask you who's your grandpa and grandma and you say you don't know. It makes you sound like you're not Hmong or something. Why is it you don't know who your grandma and 34. grandpa were? Because I never asked. And they died a long time ago in Laos.

35. Your mom and dad don't talk about them? They do, but they don't tell us for sure though. it once in a while. 36. and They only mention

For Hmong people, is it important who your grandma grandpa were?

Yeah, it's really important; especially when you're going to get married, it's really important to know. So they will know which family you come from; the low family or the high family, rich people, you know. Rich or poor family; where you're coming from. So they would really like to know before they would let your daughter to get married together. 37. Is that still true here?

Yeah, it's still true. Well, not any more, but, it depends who the family is though. Some people, they do't really care no more, but some, they do.

Ge Yang


38. Your dad teaches other people about Hmong culture; is that something you're learning from him? Well, if your parents know alot of stuff, no matter how much they do it, you can't see it. But when somebody [else] do it, then you can see it from them. That makes you feel like you want to learn, but if your dad is teahcing you then you feel, Aw, he really knows this stuff, I don't need to know it. But when somebody shows it to you then you feel like a pressure that you what to show it too. And you learn from them for easy that from your dad. 39.

there somebody you're learning from now?

Yeah; I learn it from a few [people]; well like when I go to a wedding, I just learn from them by watching the way they do it. Everybody do different stuff. Weddings are different; it depends if you're Christian or not Christian. So it's pretty different. 40. In your family there are some people who are Christian ... .. . and some people not Christian. 41. The people who are not Christian, do they follow the shaman? Yeah, they follow the shaman; we don't. 42. Are there some who are Buddahist too? Yeah, some Buddahist.

43. Does that cause a problem when your whole family gets together? Yeah, it does. Sometimes, we have a large picnic and people come over, right? Some people that don't go to church, they think we do the picnic for the church people, or something. That makes them feel like they're left out. So it's really sad for them, but they don't understand that we're not doing it just because we're Christian. We're doing it because we want everybody to come and see each

Ge Yang


other. But some people say, that's kind of ignoring them, because you act the Christian way and they don't come. So it's pretty sad and that's how families are breaking apart because of that. 44. Do you know if that happened in Laos too? In Laos there are not that much people that are Christian. Only a few people believe in Christian, so it's like there's no problem in Laos. Since people came here, people are into different stuff and there's a few problems going on. 45. Are people trying to get over those peoblems?

Yeah, they're trying to solve them. Actually, the young people understand; it's just the old people that don't understand about the Christian and non-Christian people. Younger people say that's no problem for them. Actually, younger people are becoming American, so they don't really care about Christian or non-Christian. To the old people, it still means alot to them. 46. Do you get together with other Hmong young people alot? Yeah, when we go to school we hang around together; but at home we don't hang around together. 47. Do you have parties together? Usually it's all Hmong

Yeah, we go to parties and dances together. anyway.

48. They Hmong kids you hang around with; what's important to them? Relationships, I think. Friendship; that's the most important thing for them. But sometimes that just hang around with you; but sometimes they have their mind on something else. Like you never know what they're looking at. Friendships mean alot to them.

Ge Yang



Does that mean friendships boys and girls together?

Mostly only girls together and boys together. Unless you want to separate; unless you want to come back together. Sometimes, friendship, you can't always have what you want; sometimes a girl takes over your friend, your best friend. 50. What do you mean?

Well, sometimes, a girl will be sweet talking, and your friend will go after her and you're never going to see him again. Because he's too busy with the girl. When you see him, maybe he'll be married; or maybe they dump each other and he'll come back. When a boy and a girl get together, they don't spend time with their friends any more. They're afraid maybe you might fall in love with the girl or something; so they don't come together. 51. For the traditional Hmong way, when a boy friend and girl friend get together, it would be very secret, right? Well, not exactly; sometimes you could go ahead and tell if you want to. But when you get too popular, then there would be too many problems. If you get too popular, all the girls want you; all the guys get pissed because all the girls are coming after you. So, it's pretty cool if you just keep it quiet; that's be the best. 52. Do most of the guys you hang around with, do they want to get married some day? Some of them think about getting married; some think they could go to college for a couple of years. Mostly the Hmong people marry really young, so you don't know. Sometimes you just marry without thinking, before you really realize that you're married already. Let's say 80% of Hmong people get married early. Like about 13 or 14 [years old]. In Laos, I'd be married already, because in Laos, there's not much to do. All you can do is go to the farm and go to school. So usually you get married early so you can help your family out.

Ge Yang


53. Then you can have your own family to help you out; to do you farming? Yeah. 54. That's why they don't want to come over here. Who?

These people in Laos. 55. Why don't they want to come over here?

The reason they don't want to come over here because they're afraid once they get here, everything's going to change and they don't know how to do it. They won't have no farm, nothing to do. So they're pretty scared of coming over there. 56. Do you think that's true?

No, it's not true. To my thinking, though, if you lived there a long time, you don't want to move, that's all. You just want to live there forever and die there. 57. Are Hmong people here trying to convince Hmong people in Laos to come and join them here? Yeah, they try to ask them, but some of those Hmong people, they just don't want to come. They say, if they were born there, they're just going to live there for the rest of their life. But that's up to the parents. Young people, I don't think they care, but old people, they want to stay back where they were. 58. Do more young people want to come to the United States now? If one person makes some funny comment at you, then everybody's all scared out and nobody wants to come. They've been hearing too many rumors about it. About coming to America. Bad stuff. Rumors like if you come to America you might not be with your wife or with your family you might go somewhere else, so that's why they're pretty scared coming to the United States.

Ge Yang


59. Why would somebody not be able to be with their family? Because when you come to the United States you can't come straight to Minnesota, you have to land somewhere else, live there and then come here. So that's what they're afraid of, that they might not see their friends. Because your whole family cannot come at once, so you'll be separate; you might land somewhere else. That's the only thing they're really scared of, to come. It would take them a long time to get enought money to bring the whole family. 60. Is life in Laos still bad for Hmong people, so they might want to come to the United States? Right now, it's kind of peaceful; there's nothing going on. I think they all want to come, but now they all have families there and they think there's no use going anywhere. Even when they go, they just don't get nowhere anyway. Right now they won't allow people to come over here anymore; Thailand people? They say there's too much people come already, so they're closing down a little bit. 61. Do you think it would be better for some of those people to be in the United States? Yeah. To me, it's be better because in the United States here you get more freedom of choice. And you get to do things you want to do; and here there's plenty of places you can go. In Laos all you can go is just your back door and to the farm and back. And that, you get bored, you won't learn nothing by staying home. All you can do is just phone; and that's not pretty good. 62. Being a farmer is not what you would want to do?

No. Not to me.
If you were still in Laos, would that be your only 63. choice?

Well, not quite. If I was still in Laos, I guess that, you know, somebody's got to be smart once in a while. Not everybody can do farming. That's one choice, though. People do farm, mostly. But a second choice is, you could go to school. So you might not go to

Ge Yang farm. But usually people farm alot. choice. 64. Is your family pretty big?

11 So, we don't have that much

I have about 6 or 7 brothers; well, more than that, but I don't know who they are; my dad does. Are alot of these from your father's first family and 65. your mother's first family? Yeah. 66. Are you the child of your mom and dad? Yeah. 67. Are there other children that are your mother and father's together. I think it's only me. The others are from the other two families.

68. Since you came to the U.S. it's been just you and· your mom and dad living together? Actually, when we can to the U.S. there were seven, eight of us. It's just that we separated, so; when we got here, there were seven of us living in an old house, before we moved to Minnesota here. Since we got to Minnesota, everbody separated out. Right now, it's me, my mom, my other brother, and my other brother and my. sister-in-law and family, in a duplex. 69. Do you want to have a family some day?

Yes, I think I will have a family some day, but I'm not sure when, though. But that's my dream, like I say, you can't live without having a wife, anyways, you're going to marry some day. So, I might just look for the right one. 70. What would be the right one for you?

That is up to my parents. Actually it's not really up to them. If you want a judgment of somebody, then it's better if you ask your

Ge Yang


parents first, because they can judge by the good way. I think if you let your parents choose for you, that's pretty hard for yourself, because if you don't like the person, you're sure you don't want to live with them forever. But, it's pretty good if you choose yourself, But you choose the right one, then your parents would not like it. So, if you choose someone they like, then you won't like it. So, sometimes you have to get together and both agree. But it's pretty hard to find a wife these days. Because everybody's going by American style, so you can't find the right Hmong girl now. Unless you go back and buy her from Thailand. 71. So a more traditional Hmong girl would be the right wife for you? Yeah, for me. OK, for example. If I lived back in my own country, I'd marry a Hmong girl. But now, since I live in America here, I think I want to marry an American girl. So she'd know what she's doing so I could get my education higher and I can raise my family in better ways. According to the traditional way, if you marry a Hmong girl it would be better for you parents. That way, they'd have communication together. 72. So you would think of marrying an American girl? Unless I

Well, not an American girl; but an American Hmong girl. find the right American girl. 73. So you have choices you could make?

Yeah, I have alot of choices. my parents.

But there are no so many choices for

74. If your parents said you should marry this girl, and you didn't want, how would work that out? Well, I'd just say, "I'd rather go to school!" make some excuse for it. 75. I don't know, but I'd

Would that be a good excuse for them?

Yeah, that'd be a good excuse. They'd say, go to school a couple of years, we'll find a new one. If you don't pass, you're stuck with it. Actually, you have a choice. But if you don't want your mom and

Ge Yang


dad to feel sorry for you, then you go ahead and take it, but if you don't take it, that might be your chance to have a good life, so, really, it's up to you. When you look at the Hmong people a little older than 76. you, what's life like for them? Were most of their marriages arranged? Well, not quite arranged marriage. Most of them were agreed marriages for each other. But when I look at my brother and sister in law, I think that they really have a nice family. But when you're married too long, you just feel like something is changing inside you. You feel like you want to do something new, but you can't do something new. Just like when you date a girl; you date a couple of days, a couple of years, you feel like, maybe I should find a new one, and you let it go. Once you're married, you can't let it go, so when I look at them, sometimes they have fun, sometimes, they're bored. So I don't know about them either. 77. When you have a problem, who do you talk to?

When I ask for advice, I either ask a teacher for advice or a best friend of mine, and either my mom and dad or my sister-in-law. Usually I'd ask my brother, but he's too busy, so I ask my sister-inlaw. 78. What kinds of things would you ask a teacher about?

Well, I never asked them before; I only ask them for homework. (about where to go to school) but nothing privacy, though; I feel danger, I feel this, I feel that. If you tell them personal things, they might do something you don't know either. 79. What would you talk to your best friend about? Well, my best friend, I tell him almost everything in my life. Except important stuff. But I tell him about girls, how my life is, days and nights. What I do in school, what I have in myself. Yeah, I tell him everything. Not all the stuff, though.

Ge Yang


80. What kind of things wouldn't you talk to your best friend about? The kind of stuff with you and your family; like when you have arguments, you don't tell him this and tell him that. You keep it as a secret in your heart. Outside your family, that's nobody's business. 81. and What kinds of things would you talk to your brother sister-in-law about?

I ask them to give me advice, how to find the right girl, to be with. Or how am I going to fix my life to be as good as I used to be. My brother and sister-in-law, I don't tell them about girls. If you tell them you date, they'll make some kind of corrmlent, like, "Can't you find the right one?" Or if you find someone, we've already been through it. 82. dad What kinds of things would you talk to your mom and about?

I only ask them when I have emergency stuff, but usually I don't talk with them at all, because they're too busy doing stuff, and I'm too busy and I don't want to tell them .. Because if you tell them, like with younger people, we've got alot of stuff, so even if we tell them, they won't know (what do do) either. So you don't spend alot of time with your mom and 83. dad? Yeah, I don't spend alot of time with them. Actually, I do spend alot of time with them, but even when I do spend alot of time with them, I don't talk to them at all, unless it's necessary. 84. Have problems with the law ever come up for you?

No, it's never come up with me; except sometimes. It depends who the law is, though. Like an officer who stops you for no reason. That piss you off. It happens, especially when you drive a nice car, they pull you over so no reason. But they always have a good . excuse when they pull you over. 85. What do you think the reason is?

Ge Yang


The reason is .. , I think they do the right thing, you know. As an example, you're speeding up, right, the limit is 55; when you speed 40, right, they give you a ticket because you're speeding too low. And when you're speeding too high, they stop you for it. Because they know when you're speeding too low, somebody's going to hit you in the rear end. And when you're speeding too fast you're going to hit somebody, so actually they're going to save your life in the middle 55. When the officer pulls you over for a reason, he always has a good reason, otherwise he's never going to pull you over. Because he could just check your license plate; that should come up on the screen. Usually there's always something else going on before he stops you for something else. 86. When you're not a citizen, do you have to register for the draft when you're 18? Not exactly, you don't really have to. You could live as long as you want without being a citizen. But citizen is just a different kind of story you want to be in. 87. Do you have to register every year with immigration?

No, you don't have to really have to for that. Being a citizen, it just easier for you a little bit. That way you can travel all over around the United States and it won't make any difference. But if you're not a citizen, find a job is kind of a little bit hard. 88.

In your' home, do eat mostly traditional Hmong food?

Yes, we do. I think almost every Hmong people eat almost exactly the same. It depends when you eat, though. But mostly we all eat the same things. 87. Do you, eat different food when you're out with your friends? Yeah. With our friends, we eat different; we don't eat our own food; we just go to the restaurant and eat something else different there. Because when you eat too much of the same stuff, you feel pretty much sick of it. So you try new stuff.

Ge Yang 88.


Do you like Hmong food better than American food?

To me, think American food is better, but if you compare the stuff that you eat to make you strong, I think Hmong food is much more better. Because American food you don't really get that much cholestorol stuff in it, so it don't know about it, but to me, Hmong stuff is pretty good. It's healthier.
89. In your family or with your friends have there been problems with teenage or agreed marriages?

Yes. There is. I have a few friends that have problems with marriage. Like, when you take a girl to a date, if you ask her parents and you take her on a date, and you come home maybe an hour late, they'll force you to marry their daughter, whether you like her or not. So there's kind of a few problems with that. Sometimes, when somebody forces you to marry somebody, then you're afraid to go back and tell your parents about it because when you tell your parents, they could kick you out of the house. So sometimes you run away. Hmong people have alot of problem with marriage; especially marriage. Because when you're married, that's real different. You're not going to be yourself no more. You're going to change alot, you're going to learn alot of stuff and it's going to be hard. It's not like a car that you buy then you throw it away after you're finished. When you're married, you're married for real; you're married forever too. You've got to think twice before you marry. But Hmong people, they don't think, they just marry; and then a few months, a few years they say: Fine, I'm going to get a second wife. And they get a second wife; that's how Hmong is.
90. That stilI happens in this country?

In this country, it don't happen no more; but in Hmong country, yeah, it happens alot.

Ge Yang


91. What happens in this country if married people get bored with each other; do they get divorced, or go out and . find boy friends or girl friends? In this country; since Hmong people moved to America, everything is changed. The rules are American rules and you have to obey by the rules, so if you marry twice, have two wives, well, in the United States here, according to what I read, the book says you can only marry two persons; that's the limit for a person. If you marry more than that, you have to pay for the question about it. In our Hmong traditional way, if you marry more than two people, and she don't want to marry you, you divorce her, you've got to pay her back. Find all the good stuff and give it to her mom and day back. In America, you pay child support, so that's why you don't want to marry another one; keep your money to yourself. 92. What about other traditional Hmong respect for the elders ... ? practices, like

Yeah, that's a big thing in Hmong life; that's the one biggest thing in the world. If somebody's older than you are, and you treat them the way are, that means you don't respect them, and if you don't respect them, then they won't respect you back and that way you can break your friendship alot. Even when it's your best cousin, if you don't call them by the original name that you call them, like "uncle" or something, you just call their name, they feel like you just ignore them or something. And then, that will be a real problem for you and your family. Whoever is older than you, even if you're 15 and your cousin is 16, you have to obey him, no matter what. These days, I don't think people care anymore. 93. Does that mean young people, or everybody?

That's· for everybody. They don't do that much anymore; But back in our country, everybody respect everybody. Even when you're young, you have to respect the older one than you. 94. So you have to respect anyone who is older than you; even if they are just one year older? Yeah.

Ge Yang


95. What's the difference between that and you have for your father or grandfather?



To me, it's not no difference at all; it's just how you respect them all. But sometimes people .. .it does mean alot to them. Sometimes the parents don't really mean more than a cousin does mean. Parents and a son don't really get along that much, as a person from outside; because a person who is an outsider, you have communication with them pretty good. But when you talk to your parents, you know that you don't have much to tell them. Because if you do tell them, they won't tell you back anyway. But an outsider person, they know almost everything; you can tell your secret to them; they can tell their secret to you; I mean, nobody would know about it. So it's more better with an outside person. By an outside person, do you mean somebody in your 96. family? Not quite. Like a cousin. Not somebody you live with, but somebody you're related to.

97. Do Hmong people the age of your older brothers and sisters, do they still act with that kind of respect? Yeah. Toward my parents; see our young people don't do that no more, but older people like our parents, yeah, they still obey the rules. When they see people older than themselves, they still call them the "head" of them. So they are still taking the old way; but our young people, we take the short way. Just call by their name. 98. So you can offend someone by just walking in a saying Hi and calling them by their name? Yeah. 99. Say someone like Nhia Yer, he's your uncle; what would you call him? I call him grandpa. My dad told me to call him grandpa and grandma, because he's the oldest one in the whole Yang family.

Ge Yang 100. So would everybody call him that?


Yeah, everybody, except my mom and dad, they call him different than that. 101. . What would you call your older brother?

My older brother, I just call him "tsung toua" that's person who is married and he's older than you. 102. So that could be anybody, Yeah, it could be anybody. 103. law? Is that the same if you're talking to your sister-inbrother, uncle, cousin?

Yeah, you call her a little bit different, but it's the same respect. Doesn't matter if it's a man or a woman. But see, well, kind of '" Because a woman, like your sister-in-law, you don't call her name no more, you follow as your brother's name. You don't call her original name no more, that's a little bit different.

Ge Yang 104. You mean her last name?


Her whole name. We just change it, like "sister toua" we don't go by her Hmong name, like "Bao" or stuff like that. Only her side of her family call her that. In our family, we call her by my brother's name.

105. Is that whole thing (relationships in the family) changing for the Hmong people?
Yeah, it's changing. It's changing to American style now.


How is that affecting the Hmong community?

I can't say it's bad or good, it just depends on the people. But it really affects the old people; real badly. Because it's like the old people don't mean much to the young people no more. But it's just the way they look at each other. But the young people, it doesn't really affect nothing to them. Because they were raised that way, so they can't tell the difference. But to old people, though, yeah, that is one kind of way. Makes them feel real sad.

107. Do you think that younger Hmong people will back at that kind of respect and think maybe it was a good thing someday?
There's be somebody to hold the place. Like if my grandma and grandpa died, there's be somebody to take the head of that. So our culture will never die, no matter how long we live in this world. There will be somebody to replace it every single time somebody is gone.

108. So in 20 years there will still be a "Grandpa" in your family?
There won't be a "grandpa" and "grandma" but there'll be somebody who lead the family. So our tradition will never go down, no matter what. Even when there's still a few people, it's still going to stand up, I guess. Even when all the Hmong people become American, there will still be the old people who will not be American, so even when all the Hmong people are American, there are still going to be some people who are going to arrive here who will be Hmong. According me, the Hmong people right now, they're

Ge Yang


going to the old-fashioned way, they like the old-fashioned way right now; so everybody started listening to the old-fashioned music. It's changing a little bit now. Young people are changing too. A long time ago, our old music, we don't listen to it; we listen to rap and stuff. But now, most of the Hmong people are changing; they wear nice clothes. They're usually not like gang hanging around no more. Everybody's all married, they change and stuff like that. So everybody's going back to the old traditional ways. What about the kids younger than you; do they like 109. the old ways too? Not quite. They don't like the old ways. They're raised; they were born in America, so they just go by American rules, I guess, some of them. Like, when you're young, you learn alot of stuff, so you like to learn things in your heart; you want to know which way to go, which side to turn. 110. . Have you had any trouble with discrimination in this country? Well, yeah I do, my own people. Because, see, our people, they act strange... some people. They are coming to the new style; they don't go back to the old people, so sometimes they piss me off. Like I say, it ain't that much problem. Everybody has problems with some kind of race. But they just don't tell it to nobody. Just keep it inside. 111. What about from white people or black people or Indian people; have you ever had anybody treat you badly from those other groups? I think not. It just depends what you're involved in, though. Sometimes you might be involved in fighting or something, but that's different, though. But racial against anybody, I don't think so. 112. Do you have friends who have been involved with gangs? Yeah, a few. 113. Is that still going on? No, they've all dropped out. See, when you're not in a gang, you really want to be in one, to get popular, right? But once you're in it, too many people are after you and then you want to drop out.

Ge Yang


Then, once you drop out, you don't know what to do no more. everybody's dropping out that I know.

Are they finding other things to do? Is the Hmong 114. community offering them things to do? Yeah, the Hmong community is offering them alot of stuff. You know, work programs, finding them a place to live, stuff like that. So everybody's all changing now. In 1987, '88, there were a whole bunch of gangs. But now, there's new rules and everybody's doing by the rules. 115. What does it mean to you to be a Hmong person in the United States? I don't know. I don't know how to think about it, even. I don't have time to search for my ... One day I'm like this, one day I'm like that. So I don't think about that, I just go by days. 116. Do you think about what you want in the future? Yeah. I'm pretty worried about the future. I know life is pretty hard. Like college, you gotta find the right money for it. Then you have 4 or 5 years of college and you come out and you can't find the right job for you. So you wasted all that time going. But if you go to work right now, they're going to pay you $5 or $6 per hour and that ain't enough for you to last forever. So it's pretty hard right now for me. But, like I say, you can't just be good at life. You have to work as hard as you can to get it. So I'm not that worried much. 117. What do you think would be the best for you by the time you're 30 years old? To me, as I plan for myself, if you can't go to college, if you don't bother to study, you might have a chance to survive before you get to 30. But I think the best way is to go to college, go as far as you can, and when you come back out you get a nice decent job. It doesn't matter how many years you go to college, it's worth it when you find the right job. But if you don't find the right job that pays a certain amount, you probably look back and say you could have been working and got that much already. Yeah, that's what I'm planning.

Ge Yang


118. You said before you're interested in law enforcement. What do you see yourself doing in law enforcement? One thing is, law enforcement is something you're doing for the country. You're not doing it just because you want to do it, you do it for the whole nation, cover the whole nation. If you're a law officer, it's what you can show to other people, because you can prove that being yourself, you can do something to show who you are for real. You can prove to somebody that being in the law is not that bad, just because you're a law enforcement officer, you can't have the law up to you; it's somebody else who hands the law to you. So sometimes people say that law officer people are cheating, but according to me you don't see the point of that; they're doing the best job, you just don't see the way they do it. You see them when they take their break. I just want to prove that a police officer is not that bad, you know? People are getting pissed a police officers alot, though, you know. 119. Do you know any Hmong police officers now? Yeah. Actually I know a few of them. I know my cousin, David Yang; and Qe Yang and officer Ching Chan. A few of them, or some of them are apprentice officers; they're not really a cop yet. Those are Hmong cops though; and they've been cops since I was an eighth grader, or seventh grader.

120. Do you talk to them about being a police officer? Yeah, I talk to them. Every time I go to enforcement training, I talk to them once in a while. Ride with them once in a while. Yeah they tell me everything. They just tell me that you have to do your best to get through it. 121. How do they like it? They say it's pretty good, but sometimes you worry about your life because you don't know what's going to happen. That's the only thing to worry about. But otherwise they say being a cop is pretty good for you. You learn stuff. You learn stuff every single day, because you don't know what's happening. 122. Is there anything else you have to say for people who might listen to this tape later on? Yeah, I would like to give them a little advice. I mean, they don't have to accept it... To me, if you're a Hmong person, it's better if

Ge Yang


you just stick with your culture, don't ever let it go. Because when you let· it go, you're going to learn new stuff and forget about the old stuff, and that way, when you meet another Hmong person, you won't know how to talk to them no more. If you want to live American style, that's OK with me; I don't have no problem in dealing with that, but you better think twice before you make anything else, because if you make the wrong mistake, you can never go fix it back again. So, that's my advice. If you want to live in a good way, just go on to college, try the best as you can; you don't really have to get a degree, as long as you know what you are doing, all you need is skill. Skill can take you almost everywhere you want to go, even the right job if you need. But you have to try. You can't put yourself down alot. I would like to say something to most of the gang members. I think that being a gang member is cool it's really cool) but you gotta think about this: \vhen you get shot, who's gonna be there for you? Nobody, only your parents. Who's gonna cry for you? Your mom and dad, right? Nobody's gonna show up at your funeral. Think about that. Your life is not worth it, you know. Being in a gang, you think it's cool to go rob somebody or beat up somebody, but think about it; what if they do it to your sister or your family, what are you gonna do? You can't do nothing. You're gonna sit there and cry. That'd be too late. Before you harm somebody, think about your family first before you become a gang member. Even when you be a gang member; even if you're the richest person in the world, you can't always get what you want. Money don't buy everything; almost everything, but money don't buy life back and family back. So, I think it's better if you just be yourself, do things quietly and ask their advice from somebody if you really need help for it. But don't go out to somebody you don't know and take advice from them. Because you will feel sorry for yourself, and when you do, nobody's going to help you. Even when you kill yourself; why do you want to kill yourself over a little problem you can't solve? Some people, they don't want to die yet, but something just has to happen to die. Loved ones dies to serve their country. So, you want to waste your life by killing as a gang member? Why don't you use your life and try to help somebody else? That way you'll be popular yourself. But, I don't have much to say to you guys, it's up to you. Me, I'm trying my best to stay away from trouble.