Yuepheng Xiong is a St. Paulite and the owner of Hmong Arts, Books & Crafts, the first and only Hmong bookstore in the world.
As a Hmong Minnesotan and entrepreneur in St. Paul for the last 25 years, I am immensely proud of all the economic development our diverse and innovative small business owners have built for our community and county. But this growth will only continue if we elect Joe Biden as our next President.
Unlike Trump, Joe Biden has a plan to build back the economy and dismantle the systemic racism in our financial institutions that prevent Hmong small business owners from accessing the capital we need. Like many Hmong Americans, I immigrated to America and found that the best way to support my family was starting a business. Today, my wife Shoua Xiong and I are successful owners of Hmong Arts, Books & Crafts, the first Hmong-dedicated bookstore in the world. I know how important it is to get initial funding because it wasn’t easy for us. Sadly, too many Hmong community members with good business ideas have been denied access to capital and other resources that can help make their dreams come true. And Trump doesn’t care for our dreams. He only cares for the super-wealthy.
Family-business owners like me and my wife have had to fend for ourselves because Trump has mishandled this pandemic. In Minnesota, Hmong small businesses have been hit particularly hard. Trump’s mismanagement of this public health crisis resulted in the shuttering of 20-25% of Asian American small businesses across the country. Even when Congress passed legislation to give relief to small business owners via programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, Trump officials steered these taxpayer dollars away from minority-owned mom-and-pop shops to give corporations preferential treatment.
During the peaceful protests following George Floyd’s death, Trump goaded troublemakers, and fanned the flames of unrest. Afterward, when the state of Minnesota applied for disaster relief for small businesses owners affected by the lootings, Trump denied assistance to small business owners worth $500 million dollars.
Hmong small businesses deserve better than Trump. We deserve a president like Joe Biden who truly values our contributions to the economy and cares about our long-term success. Even when he was a United States Senator, Joe Biden worked to ensure that America would hold up its end of the bargain to resettle Hmong and other Southeast Asian refugees. As President, he will ensure our economic security by building back our country stronger.
There is so much at stake in this election – especially for the Hmong community. Whether our families will have more equity and a fair shot to succeed will depend on our vote. Join me in voting for Joe Biden! Nrog kuv koom tes pov npav rau Joe Biden!