Chapters 9 & 10

The part that I found most interesting in these chapters was the part about animal sacrifice. There was an attempted ban on animal sacrifice in the US because they didn’t approve of the Hmong people sacrificing animals in their home. Yet, Americans slaughter animals in alarming numbers every day, in ways that are far from humane. It only appears to be a problem when the Hmong are doing it, despite the fact that they are thanking the animal and believe that the human and animal souls are connected. They are grateful and appreciative of it, compared to the way Americans treat animals. It’s not about what they are doing, but who is doing it. This same idea applies to crack/cocaine. The punishment for crack is much more severe than for cocaine. While there are explanations for this that aren’t race related, like what its made of and how its is different, this comes down to race and class. Crack is cheaper, and thus is used more by poor, Black people. Cocaine is more expensive, so wealthier white people can afford it. Punishing crack users more harshly than cocaine is a perfect example of institutionalized racism. Its not about slaughtering animals or doing drugs, its about who is doing those things that leads to punishment.

Another important part was how Foua and Nao Kao were willing to meet in the middle of the road with “a little medicine and a little neeb” (pg.110). We did not see the same willingness from the doctors. None of the doctors cared to ask about the Lees healing methods. This once again shows the ethnocentrism, superiority and all-knowingness associated with Western medicine. Considering how long these issues lasted and all the difficulties they had, you would think the doctors would be more willing to meet at least part of the way, if not halfway, with the Lees.

Although Chapter 10 was the less exciting chapter, it is important to note these historical forces. The Hmong have been controlled by the US and been invisible in our country for a long time. They have been historically silenced and taken advantage of. This plays a crucial role in the way the Hmong interact with American society. This history will cause them to feel a mistrust of Americans, and a sense of incompetence like Foua feels because her skills do not translate to American culture. As refugees, they are treated poorly in our country, and especially as Hmong, who have historically suffered under American control. It is no wonder that the Lees do not want to work with American doctors, social workers, or anyone who doesn’t have some sort of connection to a Hmong person.

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