2020 – The Year In Review

By Kim Yang

 

2020 was a very eventful year for the Hmong community locally, nationally and beyond. The Hmong Times takes a look back at some of the top stories of 2020.

2020 started out with The Hmong Times Newspaper being selected for the 2020 Best of St. Paul Award in the Publishers category by the St. Paul Award Program. The Hmong Times is proud to join other exceptional companies that help make the St. Paul area a great place to live, work and play.

The other big event centered on the 2020 U.S. Census. Every 10 years, as mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Census Bureau counts everyone who lives in the United States and its territories. This year, census day was April 1. The current census will influence funding and policy decisions until 2030.

Community

Representative Jay Xiong (DFL-St. Paul) continued his work with his colleagues in the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s office to respond to the rapidly evolving spread of COVID-19, known as the Coronavirus.

On March 17, the Minnesota Legislature unanimously passed emergency COVID-19 health care funding, which provides $200 million in investments for a health care response fund and Minnesota’s public health response contingency account.

With record numbers of Americans filing for unemployment and many facing income loss, the financial impacts of COVID-19 were far-reaching. To help get a handle on personal finances, the experts at Wells Fargo shared tips and resources.

In May, as businesses reopened, they were in a frantic scramble to clean and disinfect so employees and customers would stay safe. Overnight, business owners had to become germ-fighting superheroes of sorts.

Looting and fires broke out in late May following the police killing of George Floyd at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis. The area near the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct, at Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue, was among those hit the hardest.

Between government entities and nonprofits, hundreds of millions of dollars were allocated toward relief efforts in the Twin Cities. Some stakeholders said the efforts have spurred strong collaboration and have opened new doors for opportunity. Lake Street Council, a business association that spans the Lake Street corridor, was at the center of some of the organizing. In June, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the PROMISE Act, which allocated $300 million toward rebuilding parts of the Twin Cities.

This July 4th 2020 weekend, the McMurray fields of St. Paul remained bare as the United Hmong Family, Inc.’s decision to cancel the 40th annual Hmong International Freedom Festival held strong. This was just one more thing that the COVID-19 pandemic had taken from people and hit not only its attendees hard but also sports (soccer, football, volleyball, tujlub, takraw) players and enthusiasts, food vendors, Hmong media productions and solo artists, as well as local Hmong entrepreneurs, farmers, and crafters.

In August many uninsured Minnesotans got tested for COVID-19 at no cost to them during the federal public health emergency, thanks to a new health care option. The 2020 Minnesota Legislature passed a law authorizing this new coverage.

In November, the State of Minnesota announced it was opening a saliva testing site at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, adjacent to Saint Paul RiverCentre. This was the first saliva testing location to open in the Twin Cities, and the seventh in the state, offering free saliva tests to any Minnesotan who believed they needed to be tested.  Additionally, the State of Minnesota opened an eighth saliva testing site at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Winter in Falcon Heights, Minnesota was not the same this year as the 22nd annual Hmong New Year festival at Lee and Rose Warner Coliseum on the Minnesota State Fair Grounds was called off due to COVID-19.

Additionally, the beloved Minnesota Hmong-American New Year (MNHNY) at St. Paul’s RiverCentre was canceled this year due to COVID-19. Founded nearly 41 years ago, the MNHNY-RiverCentre stands strong today as one of the most memorable Hmong cultural festivals in Minnesota.

Come December, the Minnesota Department of Health created COVID Community Coordinators (CCCs) who are community-based organizations that connect Minnesota’s diverse communities to COVID testing and resources.

National

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loans were made available to Minnesota businesses. These loans could go toward working capital to meet needs including payroll, accounts payable, and fixed debt payments that couldn’t be paid due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

As the November elections approached, Hmong Times featured many stories to help readers understand all the ins and outs of election day. We featured stories on candidates’ responsibilities, included a story with Q&A responses and interviewed a few of the candidates on local and state ballots. 

The results included Joe Biden being elected President, Tina Smith for the U.S. Senate and Jim Hagedorn, Angie Craig, Dean Phillips, Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar, Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach and Pete Stauber for the U.S. House.

Education

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to grow many schools, like Hmong College Prep Academy, had to make the difficult decision to keep students and families safe and utilize virtual graduations.

“Due to the Coronavirus and as with nearly all high schools, HCPA will be hosting a virtual ceremony as a means to formally send off the Class of 2020 to the next chapter in their lives,” stated Superintendent Dr. Christianna Hang. “The decision to host a virtual graduation was made to ensure the safety of our students and their families.”

HCPA also, like most schools across the country, announced that its students would take part in distance learning for the Fall 2020 term.

“75% of HCPA parents indicated they would not allow their children to attend school on campus this fall,” stated Dr. Hang. 

Noble Academy, a K-8 public, charter school located in Brooklyn Park, produced a number of stories in Hmong Times to educate readers on their approach to providing a high-quality education for their students.  Features included “A Parent’s Answer For A High-Quality Education,” “An Interview With The Instructional And Administrative Support Team,” “Proud Scholars Share What Learning Is Like In A High-Quality School” and “A District Level Perspective On Governance Of A High-Quality School.”

Health

As the country came to the realization of a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, the state of Minnesota was ready. The Hmong Times reported that the infrastructure in Minnesota was in place to deliver a COVID vaccine quickly and safely to Minnesotans in every corner the state. A broad, diverse, statewide coalition has done extensive planning to be ready for this moment. Minnesota took a regional “hub and spoke” approach to distributing the vaccine.

The Hmong Times helped set the record straight on some of the myths circulating about COVID-19 vaccines with a story in our December 30th issue. For more information on Minnesota’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, visit:  https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/vaccine/index.html

Arts
Over the course of the year, Fue Yang, of Hmong Educational Resources, offered a look into the history and accomplishments of some local Hmong community members. Stories included “A New Journey,” “The Sound of Queej,” “Thao: PhD Student & Author,” “History of The Hmong People,” “Choyua Xiong” and “Kuv Pog”.

Hmong Times contributor, Kerry Xiong, offered up another series of stories in her Hmong Short Stories column that followed the story of “The Girl and the…”  This feature continues into 2021 and we hope our readers will continue to enjoy Kerry’s intriguing and interesting stories into the new year.

Outdoors

The outdoor enthusiasts at the Minnesota DNR continued to education and entertain our readers with many stories during 2020. 

We learned about why some Minnesota animals do what they do; like why turtles cross the road, how researchers made progress on a new phase of trumpeter swan conservation and how today, the North American bison is making a comeback through public, private and tribal efforts, and Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne, MN, is playing an important role.

Other stories included information on the impact of climate change on Minnesota State Parks, discovering history and hidden gems at Crow Wing State Park and the news that two new Hmong officers, had graduated from the 20th Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Academy.

Hunters of all types in the state were educated about the many opportunities around the state. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources scheduled two special hunts in parts of southeastern Minnesota in December and January aimed at limiting the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer. Another story shared how hunting pheasants, ruffed grouse, squirrels or rabbits offers opportunities to enjoy the Minnesota outdoors as temperatures fall and snow blankets the landscape.

Those were some of the big stories from 2020. We can’t wait to see what is in store for 2021. Thank you for reading and stay tuned…

Shop owners and bystanders survey the damage at Midtown Global Market after Lake Street riot in May. Midtown Global Market recently reopened. Photo by Steve Floyd MSR News