It is customary now for President Obama to host annual Iftar party for Muslim community in the White House. This year’s choice of President Obama for guests to represent Somali-American community in this important gathering was interesting and very well thought. The President invited Munira Khalif, a young woman who recently received acceptance to all Ivy League schools and Kadra Mohamed, a Metro Transit police officer. Through his selection of guests to this event, the president sent an unequivocal message to Somali-American community that the role models of the community should be those who succeeded in America through hard work. By his selection, the President has identified for the young members of the community those whom they should look up for as role models. These role models have already fully integrated with the main stream America or in the process of doing so.
Very often we see self-styled individuals who portray themselves as Somali leaders in the Twin Cities but have nothing to show off in terms of their achievements in America through hard work and dedication. Indeed, these same self-styled individuals often maneuver to obtain important government positions in Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland by simply flipping off their foreign passports. Sadly, many of these self-styled individuals literally abandoned their wives and children to depend on welfare in order for them to pursue their selfish political ambitions.
Who should the role models of Somali-Americans be? There is undeniable confusion among the Somali-American community to identify individuals who should be a role model for their children. This apparent confusion in the community led Somali-American youth to either join gang members, who shoot each other in the streets of Minneapolis or Al-Shabaab, the terror group that fights African Union forces in Somalia. The local media such us StarTribune and Minnesota Public Radio contributed to this confusion by routinely interviewing individuals with questionable characters whom they portray as leaders of Somali-American community in the Twin Cities.
Now that President Obama has done his part to identify role models of the community, it is the responsibility of the State of Minnesota and the local media to highlight the achievements of hardworking Somali-Americans in order to provide a role model for the rest of the community. Gone should be the days when individuals who are under indictment on federal charges or are still dependent on public assistance are regarded as Somali-American community leaders.
Abdi Hussein Daud
Minneapolis, MN, USA
The author has obtained BA in Political Science & Global Studies at University of Minnesota, Masters in Health and Human Services Administration at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and currently pursuing PhD in Clinical Psychology. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org