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Why don't you do something?

So why don’t you do something?
As Somali refugees, foreign, without a grasp of the language and economically challenged we were outsiders of the community and constantly exposed to systematic racial policies in all aspects of life in Germany. Due to the constant exposure of racially motivated crimes I became immune and almost numb to racism. While I struggled to find my own path in fighting the process of becoming the unwanted inferior black child in the perfectly homogenous catholic town, I began to see my Diaspora experience as singular and personal. In the small town Rheinbach (West Germany), I was seen first and foremost as the black girl, second as the Muslim girl, and then as the immigrant/refugee girl. With the multiple identities that were assigned to me by the dominant culture, Somali wasn’t one of them. I began to see myself as a representative of the black race, since all my flaws and imperfections when it came to schooling or etiquettes were assigned to my supposedly ‘inferior’ race. While I never lost my Somalian identity, it was my black identity that I felt I had to constantly protect from scrutiny and disgrace.
After my family and I moved to the U.S and decided to settle down in Minneapolis I found myself in a dual culture shock. Even though it was expected that I would find myself having to get used to the new cultural norms, habits, and values of the American life, it was the rich and large Somali community in Minneapolis that came to surprise me on multiple levels. I soon found myself to be identified as a Somali female rather than just simply black in the public world of school and outside activities. My Muslim identity was constantly questioned due to the fact that it was normalized that every Muslim girl decided to wear the hijab. My Somalian identity that used to be such a personal and private part of my life in Germany suddenly became the focus of my identity in many conversations.
Although I have been always an active member of the Somalian community due to family ties and the connection to Mosque and prayer times on Fridays, I have never seen myself as and activist for the bettering of my community. Maybe it is because I never wanted to limit myself and my responsibility to give back to society to one community. I don’t believe that as a Somalian I have a greater obligation to my own community than any other. However it is not until recently that I notice how discontent and truly frustrated I had been with my community.
The rise in gang violence, criminal activities, and school drop outs in the Somali youth culture have been alarming and frightening. The generation gap and cultural gap between many younger Somali immigrants has been frightening. The unwillingness to talk about the real issues at hand is an epidemic that seems to be ignored by everyone. Issues such as STD, teenage pregnancy, and sexual activities of any sort can’t be openly talked about since those have to remain a private matter that is closely connected to modesty. While nobody is willing to talk about HIV, the number of Somali men and women that contract and live with it is alarmingly high.
While I continuously talk about these issues, and try to get a sympathetic ear that is as concerned as I am, I remain to be unheard. For most of my life I decided that somebody else could deal with that problem because I was going to invest my time into something more productive. I have learned from this class how dangerous it can be to develop such a perspective.
The death of a close friend and family member has made me realize that the reason I was able to distance myself from the destructive nature of the Somali community was because I was never truly affected by the dysfunctional nature. After my friend was killed by Somali gang members that were trying to protect their space, I became even more reluctant to get involved in the community. My feelings of resentment disgust and anger prevented me from ever considering looking into the deeply rooted causes of the ongoing crime within the community. After I read the last chapter of Tracy Ores book that we were reading all semester, I became aware of how little I have been doing to prevent the problems of the Somali community to escalate. I have talked about it, laughed about it, cried abut it, and even criticized the people that tried to do something about it, but never have I personally done something to create change. Now that I have taken this class I have learned to complicate my own notions of what it means to be critical of your community. While I am still afraid to become involved, I feel more responsibility to become active than I have ever before.


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History can really help us understand how the social and economic conditions we face today were created and developed. With history, many more people will be armed with the knowledge to view all their tribulations as man-made institutes of oppression and suppression (Project South, 2005, page 25). People from other regions of the world do not feel connected to situations of oppression in other regions of the world. A better understand of their history might actually show them that they do have more similarities than differences with these people that they did not feel the need to sympathize with. Activists need to maintain and keep up the pressure through protests and rallies and boycotts of the targeted corporations because with a lot of pressure, most of these corporations will be bound to bend. Companies like Dole and Chiquita that hinder the Jamaican banana industry from flourishing, can be forced into submission through boycotts because despite their power, they still do rely on the common consumer’s purchasing ability, to stay in business. A planned, total boycott of such businesses can have severe impact on such companies in the long run. Furthermore, another motion towards effective social change would be the providing of direct aid and/or material aid to people’s in struggles in other countries, This support can be either through monetary or material donations or through political pressuring of home governments to either support the struggle or end support for the struggle’s enemies (Project South, page 15).
I do believe people can make a difference in this world because, people have been granted the power to think and reason for themselves. Peace rallies with overhead banners can sure influence certain socio-economic and political decisions, but not in every part of the world. There are some places were the slightest mention of non-conformity is met by fierce and swift reprimand, in those parts of the world the reign of terror that is experienced by one and all is so severe that it is visible in the air. I still maintain that ample sensitization can arouse the people into taking action. Considering the fact that these leaders and heads of multinational corporations are merely people like you and me, I believe that the ultimate winner of this battle would be the side with greater numbers. The people can make a difference! It is not everyday that we will fear and continue to fear the police and whom they represent. It is true that they have weapons and the law on their side, but we do outnumber them like 100-1. It is time to fight back, people. This has been long overdue anyway. The more we wait, the more globalization will spread its ugly neck over the entire universe and then we will all be slaves once more.