Last Monday, November 28, was one of the toughest days we have faced as a community. We woke up to the news that America will be expanding its war on terror to the motherland, Somalia. Later, we found out that someone from our community was part of a school attack at Ohio State University. Before we knew it, our whole community was being attacked by the world, and also being told to apologize for actions our community did not create. We have seen people degrade us and tell us we do not belong here.
The Somali-American community was bashed last week due to the actions of Abdul Razak Artan, a member of the large and growing Ohio Somali community. Artan was a recent transfer to Ohio State University, and on Monday morning he took part in a car-ramming attack and massive stabbing at the school that left 13 injured. The only person who died was the attacker, after he was shot by police. ISIS took credit for the attack though no evidence has been found directly linking Artan to the terrorist group.
Sadly, our community has been facing a heavy backlash since the event. In tough times like these, sometimes Somali-Americans forget how amazing our community is and what we truly bring to this country. Sometimes we and the rest of America need that reminder. So here is a bit of it:
America is home to an estimated 150,000 Somalis, with the three largest communities based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Columbus, Ohio, and Seattle, Washington.
Somali-Americans are a growing and successful community, but rarely recognized as that. This is sad because we are doctors saving lives, like Dr. Anisa Ibraahim (unrelated to myself) from Seattle. We are the politicians fighting for change and leading our community, like the recently elected state legislator Ilhan Omar.
Somali-Americans greatly value education, which is why it's no surprise that Ohio’s very own Ilhan Dahir was selected as a Rhodes Scholar last year. It was also announced last weekend that another Somali-American, Ahmed Ahmed, was selected with that honor.
Somali-Americans are great athletes who we praise every season, like Ohio State's Abdi Mohammed. We are successful entrepreneurs, like Abdirahman Kahin, the owner of African Grill and Deli in St.Paul, Minn. Somali-Americans are also deeply involved in community service, like Anisa Liban, co-founder of Horn of Hope, an organization focused on helping the Somali community by educating them about global issues. Somalis love to argue so, of course, we have successful lawyers like Abdi-Nasir Abdullahi.
In short, Somalis are doing amazing work in almost every field. It’s always a good reminder to see how far we have come and how fast we are growing. When tough tragedies like last week's occur, it’s important that we stick together as a community. We need to stop putting ourselves down and lift each other up. When someone makes fun of our community or tells us we bring no benefit to society, instead of being hurt by those words we should remind ourselves of the incredible community we come from, and be proud as a product of it.
Have pride in your roots. Don’t ever apologize for being Somali, or for the actions our community did not cause. These next weeks will be hard and we will be tested. We should prove to ourselves, and the rest of the world, the amazing community we truly are.