Profile on Nelsie by Anne Winkler-Morey

I was told as a woman of color that I shouldn’t go out, shouldn’t talk to strangers, that I was going to get hurt, that if anything happened to me it would be my fault, for doing what I shouldn’t do. Living outside of that box, deciding what kinds of relationships I want to build and who I want to build them with, has been liberating. I want every other woman to be able to live outside of the box imposed on them.

Daughter of Refugees. 

To talk about me, I have to start with my parent’s history, growing up in Laos, experiencing the after-affects of the CIA’s “Secret War.” When the war ended, the Hmong in Laos faced persecution and genocide by the communists. My parents left behind family and made it through the jungle and across the Mekong River to a refugee camp. They ended up in Duluth, Minnesota in March, 1989.

 Cycle of Poverty Begun in Laos, Continued in Duluth.

I am the youngest of five children, all born in Duluth, back to back. Dad worked at bakery making $4 an hour while my mom stayed home with the babies.  We were living on welfare, in the Projects. My parents knew they were at the bottom of the economic and social ladder. Hardship was an experience they were all too familiar with, even when they lived overseas. I can still recall my father sharing  about walking miles to the grocery store to get medicine for my brother after the family car broke down.

North Minneapolis

My parents saw no way out of the cycle of poverty in Duluth, so they moved to North Minneapolis in pursuit of full-time jobs. We lived there from 1998 to 2004. I became an energetic Head Start student and then attended Shingle Creek Elementary School. Mom and Dad both got full-time jobs at St. Jude Medical, as medical-assembly workers. I have such fond memories of North Minneapolis. I never felt ostracized there. I saw people who looked like me in my neighborhood. Classism was not something I had to confront because everyone in the neighborhood accepted each other and had a similar upbringing as mine....

Read more on Anne Winkler-Morey's website:

Nelsie Yang