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KDWB's private meeting to atone for Hmong parody song gets boycotted

As a part of their ongoing apology for the "Hmong parody" debacle, KDWB managers are holding a meeting with members of the Hmong community at their offices in St. Louis Park this morning for a "dialog."

However, some of the invitees are refusing to go. They say the meeting's format is, well, a little offensive.

The reason: KDWB insisted that the meeting be private.

"This has to be a community resolution," says Boa Lee, communications chair for Community Action Against Racism. "We are opposed to having any sort of closed meeting."

Back in late March, Dave Ryan in the Morning show host Steve "Steve-O" LaTart sang a bizarre song to the tune of "Tears in Heaven" about Hmong people, including boneheaded lyrics like these: "No room for a couch/'Cause we sleep on the floor/One big group of Vangs/Hmong family of twenty-four."

Once the song was posted on the internet, the Asian American Journalists Association demanded KDWB apologize and TakeAction Minnesota's Hmong Organizing Program called for Steve-O's job. AT&T, Health Partners, and Blue Cross all canceled their ads. The station first released a non-apology apology, then a string of more sincere apology-apologies on the air. In the last one, Ryan alluded to meeting with members of the Hmong community.

The brilliant mind that brought you the Hmong parody song
The brilliant mind that brought you the Hmong parody song

That meeting is scheduled for today at 10 a.m. Representatives of several community organizations were invited, like TakeAction and the Hmong American Partnership, along with Representatives Rena Moran and Ryan Winkler. According to a KDWB spokeswoman, the list was put together with help from the director of HAP, Bao Vang.

But not everyone who got invited to the party is happy. The problem, say members of TakeAction and CAAR, is that the meeting is private and only one person from each organization is allowed in.

"This meeting is by invitation only," says the letter sent to TakeAction representative Amee Xiong. "We request that no cameras or recording devices be brought to the meeting." Here's the whole invitation.

"We don't want this organization to divide us," says Xiong.

She is refusing to attend, as is anyone from CAAR, which is a multiracial coalition of organizations including TakeAction created after a similar incident in 1998. That time, Tom Barnard got KQRS in hot water for saying a Hmong teenager who allegedly killed her newborn should "assimilate or hit the goddamn road."

CAAR has counter-invited the morning show and KDWB management to a public meeting on the 13th.

"KDWB is the one who aired publicly a song to that was racist," says Lee. "For them to show accountability and respect for the community, they should come to the community."

Rep. Moran says she's also decided not to attend in solidarity with CAAR.

"The intent is a good intent, but I do like transparency," she says. "I'm a little disappointed that there's a need to have a closed meeting."

Rep. Winkler, whose district contains KDWB's offices, says he is still planning to go.

"I think it's right to take them to task," he says. "But if KDWB can make amends and move on it's a learning opportunity for everybody."

Stacy Bettison, a spokesperson for KDWB, won't say who was invited to the meeting, but that it includes elected officials and business and community leaders. She also wouldn't say how many people are still attending, just that they're "very pleased" with the response.

"We're disappointed that TakeAction isn't going to come to our meeting," says Bettison. "We're looking forward to having a very productive meeting."

As for whether or not KDWB will be attending the public meeting CAAR is asking for, Bettison says, "There may be no need to have a second meeting. We'll have to determine what the next steps are."

According to a letter sent from CAAR to Clear Channel/KDWB president Michael Crusham, the radio station has until today to RSVP. We'll keep you posted.

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