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Somalis are resilient Americans, not terrorists

By Abdirashid Ahmed, Pioneer Press

As part of my daily routine, I read the local daily news clips every morning. I often find more than one article about the Somali community in Minnesota. Though some articles are positive, many frame the community negatively.

For example, on Monday, July 13, 2015, there were two articles about the community: one, titled “Minnesota’s Somali-Americans urge new treatment for would-be terrorists,” appeared in the Pioneer Press, and “Study: African immigrants’ economic impact untapped in Minnesota” appeared on ABC Eyewitness News Channel 5.

Surprisingly, the article with the term “terrorist” attracted the attention of many fellow Minnesotans, many of whom chose to post negative, un-American, unpatriotic, and clearly racist comments. One commenter asserted, “The only way to deradicalize (Somalis) is to not let them in here.” Another commenter stated, “Send them all back to the craphole from which they originated in Africa. These people are completely alien to Western Society and don’t belong here. They are a violent threat shoved into our midst by those whom (sic) would destroy us all.” And another commenter wrote, “Somalis have learned how to game the system and take advantage of the lefty dim wits in Minneapolis. These guys are no different than any street gang members. Do the crime, do the time.” Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any reasonable comments in response to this article. I have been reading, reviewing, and tracking these negative posts for some time and feel it’s my moral obligation to intervene positively.

Continue reading at TwinCities.com

Abdirashid S. Ahmed of Maplewood currently works for the City of Minneapolis as its East African community specialist. A public policy analyst, he has previously worked with public assistance programs in Ramsey, Hennepin and Dakota Counties. He has also worked with Metropolitan Council and Lutheran Social Services. He has a master’s degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and an undergraduate degree in human services administration from Metropolitan State University.

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McKnight/Concordia study fills in data gaps on African immigrants’ impact in Minnesota

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

IbrahimHirsiIllo400On a recent warm evening, Eritrean-born Afeworki Bein got busy serving beer, coffee and food as a long line of customers snaked insight Snelling Café, which he’s owned and operated since 2003.

When Bein, who immigrated to the United States 28 years ago, first opened his business in St. Paul, he only served coffee and soft drinks. But once he noted the increasing immigrant population in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood 10 years ago, he expanded the space and added new items to the menu.

“There were not these many people here,” said Bein, comparing the current African immigrant population in the Twin Cities to that in the ‘80s and ‘90s. “There were a few … and I knew them all.”

The neighborhood has now blossomed into a business hub for African immigrants in the Twin Cities, a home to thousands of immigrants and refugees, may of them from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Cameroon, Liberia, Nigeria and Somalia.

Bruce Corrie, an economics professor at Concordia University in St. Paul, has been studying the economic growth of these communities for years.

In his latest “The Economic Potential of African Immigrants in Minnesota” report, Corrie unveiled the growing entrepreneurship and economic boom of African immigrants in Minnesota as well as the obstacles they’re facing in their pursuit of entrepreneurial success.

The community generates an estimated $1.6 billion in income purchasing power each year, according to the report. In the Twin Cities metro area alone, African immigrants spend an annual $800 million purchasing groceries, electronics, furniture and healthcare, among other things.

Funded by the McKnight Foundation, the report pulls information from more than 600 customer and business surveys, which Corrie and his team conducted in the Twin Cities, Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center.

“The consumer and business surveys indicate that there is a sizeable market for ethic products,” stated the report, which was published in May. “For example, African immigrants in Minnesota spend an estimated $90 million in groceries at ethnic stores.”

Continue reading at MinnPost

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

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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.)