Sisterhood is a group of Hmong girls from grades 7-12 in the Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids area. The group formed in early 2017 when a group of friends were looking for a safe, supportive and culturally-competent space to discuss issues including teen dating violence. Their focus quickly expanded when, on March 6, 2017, a white man fired his gun at his neighbor, a Hmong woman, in Junction City, a small village about 17 miles west of Stevens Point. According to news reports, the shooter told arresting officers there were too many Hmong people in Junction City.
Sisterhood was meeting at CAP Services’ Program office on the west side of Stevens Point and heard the sirens as the emergency vehicles headed to the scene. The shooting sparked Sisterhood into action as they quickly saw how the violence within their own lives was related to the violence within the broader community. Within a week, Sisterhood, with the help from Hmong United for Justice (HUJ), was able to organize a rally against hate, which saw dozens of people march to the steps of the courthouse to raise awareness of the incident and ask the district attorney to charge the shooting as a hate crime, which the shooter was ultimately convicted of.
“Since this incident, the girls have gotten much closer,” says Vang. “They have pulled in more members and are much stronger and more educated.”
The girls continue to track the trial in order to inform the public as well as attend the various hearings as they come up. They have also become increasingly active in their schools, challenging their peers and the administration on social justice issues, as well as getting involved in other groups such as Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), Hmong Club and others. Sisterhood is involved locally with Create Portage County’s Identity and Inclusivity (i2i) diversity discussions, and at the state level through End Abuse Wisconsin’s Wisconsin Teen Council.