Category Archives: Ibrahim Hirsi

In wake of attack, activists working to reduce tensions in St. Cloud brace for ‘a long winter’

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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Each time a tragic or controversial incident strikes the Somali-American community in St. Cloud, Yusuf Haji is one of the first people to get to the scene.

Over the past several years, Haji has recounted numerous stories of high-profile events and boiling racial tensions through written and video postings for his Facebook audience of nearly 4,500 — making him one of the most visible activists in the city.

The latest episode came on the weekend after a knife attack turned a typical Saturday night at the Crossroads Center mall into chaos and confusion when a 20-year-old Somali-American, Dahir Adan, allegedly stabbed 10 people before he was fatally shot by Officer Jason Falconer of the Avon Police Department.

The incident began to unfold at the shopping mall at about 8 p.m. In less than an hour, Haji was on Facebook, posting images and videos of the center, speaking to witnesses about the incident that has shocked many in the Somali-American community.

Hours later, Haji appeared on a Facebook Live video with a woman named Natalie Ringsmuth to call for unity, and to discuss the possibility of retaliation against the Somali-American community, “It’s a very sad night for us here in St. Cloud,” Haji said in the video, which had “We’re praying for the victims … it’s going to be very shocking and a very sad night for all of us. It doesn’t look good for our community. It’s going to be really bad.”

The incident — which the FBI is investigating as a potential act of terrorism — delivered a major blow to Haji and Ringsmuth’s years-old effort to bring together the diverse residents of St. Cloud, a city that has seen a string of incidents hostile to its Somali-American community and other racial and religious minorities in recent years.

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Ibrahim Hirsi can be reached at ihirsi@minnpost.com.  Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

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For years, a state program has successfully helped employers upgrade worker skills. Could it do more to help minority businesses?

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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In March, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded more than $2.8 million in grants to fund projects aimed at retaining and upgrading the skills of thousands of private companies’ employees across the state.

The project is part of the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP), a decades-old program administered by DEED that provides Minnesota-based businesses and partnering educational institutions year-round grants three to four times a year.

In the most recent round, the program gave money to more than a dozen projects that will provide professional development to nearly 3,000 employees, including Wilson Tool International and Anoka-Ramsey College; Kraus-Anderson Construction and Anoka-Ramsey Community College; Imagine! Print Solutions and Hennepin Technical College; and Ebenezer Management Services and Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical.

“The goal is that the business has a trained workforce … as their technology develops or as they bring new workers into their workplace,” explained DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben, who left the agency last week and was replaced by Shawntera Hardy.

And yet, though the program has awarded tens of millions in grants over the last 33 years, some business leaders of color say the state’s efforts around MJSP are also typical when it comes to the state’s efforts — or lack thereof — when it comes to making sure eligible minority-owned businesses are taking advantage of such opportunities.

“It’s a great program,” said Ravi Norman, CEO of the Minneapolis-based Thor Construction, one of the largest African American-owned businesses in the nation, but “I think there needs to be probably some enhanced intentionality on the marketing.” 

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Ibrahim Hirsi can be reached at ihirsi@minnpost.com.  Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

Photo exhibit sheds light on cultural clashes between immigrant parents and their American children

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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The teenage experience can be an emotional roller coaster for many young people navigating through complex life choices as they transition to adulthood and establish an identity.

But for many American-born teens with immigrant parents, the challenges are even more pronounced in their day-to-day experiences, as their parents tend to reinforce lifestyle and religious practices that are foreign to their children.

That pressure often invites a cultural clash between parents and their teens — many of them feeling torn between two very different worlds: a conservative Muslim community and a secular American society.

For years, emerging Somali-American visual storytellers Muna Malik and Khadija Charif have been taking notes on how their friends have dealt with identity issues and the struggle of living at home in one culture, while attending school in a completely different culture.

The pair eventually turned their notes into two photography projects exploring one story: the experience of Minnesota teenagers and their struggle to balance different cultures. The joint exhibition will open Wednesday afternoon at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Malik, born in Yemen and raised in Minneapolis, created “Behind Both Fences,” a project featuring four Somali-American and Sudanese teens who came of age in the Twin Cities.

Charif’s “Jaded Youth” exhibit features four local Somali-American and Ethiopian college students to shed light — as Charif noted — on “the beauty of what it means to be an immigrant, although it’s jaded and it’s hard trying to balance both our cultural life with our life here.”

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Ibrahim Hirsi can be reached at ihirsi@minnpost.com.  Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

In new book, U of M professor captures stories of Somali diaspora

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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Long before they flooded into many parts of North America and Europe, Somalis romanticized another part of the world: Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, regarding the region as dream destination.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Somali men often journeyed to the oil-rich nations in the Middle East in search of jobs — and with the goal of sending financial assistance to those left behind, building houses for loved ones and buying cars in a country where only a few privileged people drove.

The income these workers generated in the region earned them a symbolic status among their peers in the East African Somalia, which struggled with chronic unemployment under the authoritarian government of General Mohammed Siad Barre.

“Often [these men] were marrying the most beautiful girls in old villages,” noted Professor Cawo Abdi of the University of Minnesota. “There was that sense that they went to a place that resembled Jannah.”

Jannah — the Arabic word for paradise — inspired the title of Abdi’s new “Elusive Jannah” book, which she will discuss during an event on Saturday afternoon at the Cedar Riverside People’s Center, near the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Ibrahim Hirsi can be reached at ihirsi@minnpost.com.  Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

‘We know what the problem is’: Forum offers perspectives on racial disparities in Minnesota

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

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If there was one message that Angela Glover Blackwell and several local leaders wanted to stress Wednesday at a forum on race and equity in the Twin Cities, it was this: The need “to get the equity agenda right.”

Speaking to more than 1,000 people at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Minneapolis, Blackwell, a renowned social justice advocate, chronicled the era of legalized segregation in the United States, current challenges facing minority communities and barriers that prevent them from the traditional paths to economic prosperity.

“We’re at a different moment in this nation,” said Blackwell, founder and CEO ofPolicyLink. “The challenge has never been greater.”

The challenges she highlighted include the recent episodes of police violence as well as widening economic and education disparities — calling for state leaders and influential individuals to act quickly.

Blackwell noted that as the population of communities of color continue to increase at a much higher rate than that of their white counterparts, America will soon depend on minorities to sustain its economic security and world dominance.

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Ibrahim Hirsi can be reached at ihirsi@minnpost.com.  Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)