Vote Run Lead’s Response to Netroots Nation Regarding the Incident of Pakou Hang and PaKou Her

Vote Run Lead’s Response to Netroots Nation Regarding the Incident of Pakou Hang and PaKou Her - August 13th, 2020

Vote Run Lead was inspired and founded by a diverse group of radical women. Our mission is to train women who are intersectional, anti-racist, and feminist reformers to run for public office and win. Central to that mission is a core belief that women should run as they are, because they are enough. 

Netroots Nation invited our Chief Program Officer, Pakou Hang, to join a panel on “Building Political Allyship with Women of Color.” However, in the journey to the panel, Netroots Nation used PaKou Her’s name, headshot and biography for Pakou Hang. Even when it was pointed out to them, this misidentification went publicly uncorrected for days. 

We do not need to assert the irony of what happened, especially as it relates to the topic of the panel, but we do think it is important to tease out the harm and microaggression that was inflicted.  

First, the misidentifying of PaKou Her for Pakou Hang perpetuated the racist thinking that Asian Americans all look alike and can be interchangeable. 

Second, the continued featuring of PaKou Her on the public advertisement for the panel, even when the mistake was identified, suggested that the misidentification was not important enough to remedy in a timely fashion. 

Third, the continued promotion of the wrong speaker disrespected the Netroots community by assuming that they would not know the difference between the two women, nor care. 

And lastly, this entire misidentification fiasco prevailed because Netroots Nation believed that neither PaKou Her nor Pakou Hang would say anything.  

At best this was a careless mistake and at worst, this was an example of implicit bias and a reminder that even among “progressives” there is much work to be done.  So we accept the public apology by Netroots Nation. But we advocate for the full recognition of PaKou Her and Pakou Hang as individual, powerful, kick-ass Hmong women. Each of them are enough, just as they are, and should be recognized and celebrated, accordingly.