In light of the recent allegations against Elk Grove City Mayor, Steve Ly, we’ll analyze the Hmong clan system and how it functions in the modern world that we live in today.
On June 1st, during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, a Hmong auto body shop was burned down. In a Facebook post, Steve Ly alluded that the cause was due to protesting. This sparked a social media war between Steve and Linda Vue on the accountability of his statement.
On June 12th, Linda was contacted by Eavah Vue, her Vue clan representative, where he asked her to remove her social media post blasting Steve Ly. She refused and attributed Steve as using the Hmong clan system to silence her.
This ballooned even further when other women came forward and spoke of Steve’s past bullying and silencing of women. Among these women, Bobbie Singh-Allen referred to the Hmong clan system as a “controlling and intimidating system.”
Both parties continue to discredit each other leading up to the November election. We talked to Hmong educators to help us understand the situation a little better.
Take a listen.
There are 18 identifiable, distinctive clans in the Hmong community in America… where the male is the head of household. And each extended family of the same clan will select a leader. That leader is considered the clan leader. As a patrilineal structure, the power has traditionally rested in the hands of mostly male in the clan system.
But it is the expectation of these male elders that they will have the best interest of the people in their clan. So it’s their job to find peaceful solutions to whatever issue that may emerge. It might be in a wedding, or a dispute Hmong people enjoy and thrive on the simple agrarian lifestyle with very strong altruistic tendencies.
Meaning that we like to keep our friends really close and family even closer. And that is the driving force, I believe, behind the clan system. In the United States context, the word clan actually is very negative right?
If we think of the Klu Klux Klan, we think of people being “clanish” Just maintaining within themselves and not wanting to change. And it’s supposed to be a very positive thing. The support that we get really depends on the clans that we belong to. They’re supposed to support us.
What is wrong is that if that’s all you want to do is focus on only people who are from your ethnic group or from your clan, your family lineage if that’s all you want to do then there’s a problem with that. As the election nears, and emotions are at an all-time high, this will have a long-lasting impact in Elk Grove politics and for Hmong Americans around the country.