I’m exhausted by hearing the same questions and answers about the Somali community over and over, as if they only contribute sexists and terrorists.
A few weeks ago I went to a talk by a local Somali community organizer, who helps with women’s health. During the question and answer time, the well-educated, well-intentioned audience asked two questions:
- How is the Somali community reacting to terrorist recruitment?
- Do Somalis treat their sons and daughters the same?
Right on script.
When I write a blog post and look for related articles, all that I can find concern terrorism and occasionally piracy. I see the top three articles right now are,
- “Somalia – News website editor gunned down in Mogadishu“
- “Minneapolis: 3rd of 8 Muslims who plotted in mosques to join ISIS to plead guilty,” and
- “News website editor gunned down in Mogadishu.”
I thought I saw a different sort of story, about “building community reslience,” and then discovered it was an anti-radicalization, anti-terrorism grant from the US Justice Department. Even the good news is about terrorism.
I read about how many Somalis are on welfare in Minnesota.
Many people like the refrain of how Somalis “refuse” to assimilate to US culture. They’ve repeated for eight years the story of Somali taxi drivers who refused to transport passengers with alcohol or dogs. I also hear the trope of the Somali cashiers who won’t handle pork products.
When I look up popular Somali musicians or artists in the English-language press, I find that we only know one: K’naan. (Better than nothing, right?)
So here is a “typical Somali” based on what I read in the media:
- potential terrorist
- repudiators of American culture
- without contribution to arts and culture