By Salma Hussein and Mustafa Jumale
The "Minnesota 2.0" project has allowed us to look at Facebook from a different standpoint, and analyze the complexity within it. We are able to see that young immigrant youth of Somali descent are actively engaging in sharing their stories via social networking sites such as Facebook.
One Facebook group entitled "A Unified Somalia-The Only Way Forward for the development of Somalia" addresses how to create unity and stabilize Somalia. The creator of the group argues that Somalis need to put aside their differences and work to build and develop Somalia. Furthermore, in his opinion, Somalia itself needs to create jobs, schools, and healthcare in order to influence Somalis in the diasporic community to return. Members of this group inform each other of problems in their own diasporic communities as well, including the lack of educational achievement and the risks of drugs and gangs.
Yet we are not just researchers that stand on the sidelines and wait for things to analyze in this project: we are also participants. All of us have engaged in Facebook discussions, something that is unique about this research project. For example, Salma wrote on a Facebook Fan Page entitled "The Ugly Towers in Minneapolis with all the colors on them." The buildings it condescendingly refers to are those of the Cedar Riverside plaza, a neighborhood that she volunteers and works in. Even more disheartening, though, were the comments of young people attending various colleges and universities referring to the buildings as "crack stacks," and even at times calling them "Somali projects." Through interaction with some of the individuals who posted on the page, they were able to realize the hate that was evident in their writings. Many were simply trying to be sarcastic, but soon realized that they were doing so at the expense of putting down an entire ethnic group.
In addition to these topics, we have read other young Somalis' views on subjects that range from peace in our motherland to preservation of identity to succeeding in school. It has been extremely interesting to see how people can be so far in distance yet share so many things in common. We are both excited to be part of such a dynamic and important project.
Salma Hussein and Mustafa Jumale are IHRC Undergraduate Research Assistants.