Meet Mai Yang Vang
WHAT WOULD YOUR WALK OUT SONG BE?
WHY DID YOU JOIN HIP?
As a daughter of Hmong refugee parents, like many second-generation Hmong kids, I grew up in poverty. I was the first in my family to go to college and I thought getting an education would solve all the issues facing my family and community. At 26, I came back to Sactown better equipped with years of education only to find my neighborhoods still suffering from the same extreme poverty and institutional barriers. Despite the passage of time, nothing had changed for my community.
I firmly believe that if you do not do anything with your education to uplift your community, there’s no point in getting your degree. Fed up with how little had changed, I joined HIP to transform my community. Often times (most times) our communities are left out of the decision making process. Policymakers have not created the opportunities for our families and neighborhoods to thrive. HIP gave me a medium to channel my passion and skills to organize parents, students, and community members to help vocalize their concerns and insert themselves in political spaces.
How has being part of HIP impacted your life?
HIP is my life.
Why should someone join HIP?
- Because you want to create a better world for your loved ones (this should be everyone)
- Because you’re angry at the injustice around you... Through HIP, I learned to channel my anger and used it to drive my work organizing, mobilizing and registering families and community members to vote. The reality of the political world is such that if you do not vote, you do not matter to those in power. Being angry without being strategic about your actions will only lead to more anger. Join HIP so you can help innovate how this political world functions.
What is your FAVORITE Moment From your time with HIP?
This is not necessarily my favorite moment but it was definitely the most teachable moment I've had in HIP:
It was the night when Sacramento City Unified School District voted 4-3 to closed down our neighborhood schools in South Sacramento. It was a little past midnight--organizers, parents and students were exhausted and I remember hearing the final vote count. In that moment, I felt defeated. 'Defeat' *ucking hurts! It hurts because I knew how committed and passionate each organizer worked with parents and students to keep our neighborhood schools open. It hurt because this vote wasn't just about dollars and cents--it was about children and their future.
Looking back on it now, I learned that defeat is not the end of the world. In fact, it was the beginning of HIP’s political awakening. That moment ignited my fire and is one of the main reasons why I continue to mobilize students, parents and our community in political spaces. It is why organizing is my lifeline -- our community has a voice (in votes, in human capital & presence).
If we do not turn out to vote, if we do not engage, if we do not run for office; then decisions that impact our families and community will be made FOR us not BY us.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOMENT FROM YOUR TIME WITH HIP?
Change does not happen overnight. Protecting what is right takes courage and achieving what is better for our community requires continual work.
In 5 years, I hope the Hmong community will have built a strong political base in Sacramento.
In 20 years, I hope our community, along with other Asian American & Pacific Islanders will have grown in votes and political influence across the US. Most importantly, I hope that in 20 years, the Hmong community stays humble, focus, and hungry to improve the lives and outcomes of all communities-- our struggle is a shared struggle.
WHen not hustling for hip, you can find me...
always hustling. I currently work for Councilmember Larry Carr who represents District 8 which includes a huge portion of South Sacramento. Mr. Carr was my high school teacher and mentor. Everyday, I am blessed with the opportunity to improve South Sacramento and make my neighborhood a better place for families. When I’m not hustling to pay the bills or organizing with the HIPstars, I am spending time with my amazing 15 younger siblings.