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Hmong Contemporary Issues
Hmoob cov Xwm Txheej rau Tiam no
Les Problématiques contemporaines des Hmong

The Open Letter to Chamee Xiong
"Ab, Tsab Mim, Kheev Lam Koj Paub Mad …"
by Kao-Ly Yang

Dear Chamee,
You are the same. You barely changed. You hair went from dark to bright chestnut and, your size has increased a bit, but your voice is always clear and sweet. You are now better and more beautiful than ever. You are still the best. I want to tell you were born with talent. I think if you knew it, it might help you to feel confident and to pursuit your singing career.

As many other Hmong women artists, you were a victim of your talent and beauty. Being born woman in the Hmong culture, you were not understood as a talented artist that needs freedom to nurture yourself and to grow your art. In a patriarchal society, it is certainly very difficult to cope with the numerous forms of social alienations, norms, standars of behaviors, gender division, ... that contain women to minor roles. Because you are a divorcee and an artist, the social sanctions by the rumors must be worse. But you coped magnificently, and continue to sing meaningful songs. You have fought the demons of the Hmong sanctions, which is the biggest battle in all divorcees’ life. At the end, you still stand, and have become a role model, not only for divorced women but all women of all ages who may feel afraid to live up to their talent and dream of recognition and freedom of choice. Your personal life is a rich lesson. Thank you to share it with all Hmong people. Because of such a courage, you gain my respect and esteem. You are a modern woman. You live with your time, fearless, intrepid, brave and intelligent. I would like to applaud your courage and determination to affirmatively be who you are:  a great artist and a very great human being with a warm and tender heart.

Because of such an experience, falling from the top to the bottom, your talent has asserted itself; your songs are deeper, nicely grounded in human tough experiences. Your experience of divorce has increased your understanding of the human issues, and of the Hmong women’s challenges and limited spaces to grow emotionally, socially and professionally. Are all pains good for one's growth even if they might help to grow old well? For a time, your songs became a riverbank of your pains, suffering, search of meaning in life, thirst of truth and justice: your words were guns, your voice was power, which contributed to change your own society. At the end, you have become bigger, taller in your singer career. You are not anymore the singer who narrated love or separation. You went beyond, shaping the perception of happiness, love, sadness, joy, separation, hope, women's challenges, divorce, loneliness, ... search of redemption. Somehow, you became an advocate for Hmong divorcees' rights to second chance, to happiness. You know how to capture emotions through situations, stories to promote social justice and gender equality. Many women could relate to your experience. And your voice really grows into maturity. Since your divorce, your voice sounds deeper, truer, and more striking. Such an experience of divorce just gave you a profound understanding that now inhabits your voice, your words and your songs.

Do not miss too much your family in Thailand. Don’t worry about your age because you won’t even get old as an artist. Don’t feel afraid to love again. Let the anger fly. Just be yourself. Never compare your unique path with other new and young female singers. You have more than them. You have walked to the light. You are a role model for them. You did not lose anything; on the contrary, you have gained so many meaningful things. Just take time to enjoy life as splendid day. You went beyond: you were able to overcome the challenge of living a patriarchal society and its clan system where female singers never survive after marriage, and less after a divorce. You have opened the way. Be blessed! You could live your life peacefully and completely as an artist without fear. More than awareness, you now gain the power to take actions and advocate in your songs for more gender equality, freedom of choice for women.

Smile, Smile, Smile! Laugh at life as an exquisite journey. You are an international artist living your life as a rich and profound adventure. Feel confident to have survived hardship. Don’t look back! Use your experience for your professional growth.

In Hmong women history, you are the first woman who has the courage to proclaim your divorce in songs and to claim your freedom. I hope all Hmong female singers from Southeast Asia or in the US will follow your example of courage and of integrity if they come to divorce: remaining an artist, and pursuing their professional career beyond all kinds of social pressure, and forgiving and keeping loving. You are rare, special in the Hmong community.

I think that the Hmong philanthropic women organizations should give you an award for being the freest and the most courageous woman who openly challenge the Hmong patriarchal norms, standards and values.

Ab, Tsab Mim, kheev lam koj paub mad …Koj yeej hu nkauj ntau tshaj no txog Poj niam kev ua neej.

Love and respect,
Nyob zoo xyoo tshiab 2006 rau koj, Tsab Mim Xyooj.
Thov kom xyoo 2006 no nqa txhua tsav yam koj lub siab vam thiab cia siab.

Nkauj Hli
Fresno, December 31, 2005

Chamee Xiong’s last collections of Songs:
“Txog Rau Tus Kuv Hlub”, 2005, Four Stars Entertainment, Fresno, CA
“9 lub Hub tsis Npaum Ib Lub Hli”, 2005, PajLav Productions.

(Text reedited in June 2018)

Copyrights © 2005 Kao-Ly Yang
All Rights Reserved.


Chamee Xiong
Patriarchal society
Performing art
Tsab Mim Xyooj