Hey, folks! It's that time again. Gather 'round, because it's time to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Doualy Xaykaothao.
Who are you?
I am a Hmong Texan with a killer cowboy accent that I hide very, very well.
What are you?
I've been asked this a lot because people don't quite know what to make of me. When I was younger, this was a really tough question, especially because I carried this "Resident Alien" ID card for years, and feared I was going to somehow say something wrong, do something bad, and suddenly be sent back to some dungeon in whatever country people thought I came from. Now I'm the one asking questions.
Where are you?
I'm sitting on a cement floor in my studio-apartment in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. I live about a 10 minute walk to the beautiful Mississippi River, and about the same distance to the state capitol. My workplace is 3-minutes away. I planned it this way because I was afraid of the deep freezes in the Midwest, and I don't know how to use a snow blower.
Where are you from?
I was born in communist Laos, played on merry-go-rounds in France as a child, and am still trying to be a grown-up in the United States.
What do you do?
I’m a correspondent at Minnesota Public Radio. I cover race, culture, immigration and demographic trends. I intentionally write and report about people of color, refugees, immigrants and marginalized groups. I feel very fortunate to be able to do this because there aren't many news outlets that have reporters dedicated to doing this. I started my career at National Public Radio, in Washington DC, when Bob Edwards was host of Morning Edition, and producers, including myself, sliced audio tape using razor blades. Those were fun days! As was my nearly ten years roaming Asia reporting for NPR News. And the ride continues.
What are you all about?
I want people to be heard, especially those who have historically been denied the opportunity to speak, or were never asked their opinion. I work in public media because I believe in community empowerment. For me, that means getting out of my comfort zone, walking into a new neighborhood, asking dumb questions, and paying attention to people beyond those who look like me. And if I can help, through story-telling, through note-taking, through witnessing an event, and sharing it with others, then I can sleep better at night.
What makes you angry?
I'm angry that I can't sing or dance. And that I hate math. That's the personal.
The professional in me is fired up, daily, because too many people that I interview are afraid to speak the truth. I see it everyday as a reporter. People are afraid to share their stories. People are afraid to give their names, to own their words. People are afraid they'll say the wrong things, be misquoted, be taken the wrong way. Or be made examples of, publicly, then shamed. Privately, I hear about horrible things happening to people, at work, at school, in public spaces. I am deeply disheartened to know that people live in fear in the United States, fear of one another, fear of different races, fear of all kinds of things. Obviously with all the political rhetoric in this presidential campaign, it's more and more evident how divided we are, in major cities, in rural areas, in spaces you probably didn't even realize. I do this work, hoping I can connect and bring together people, everyday.