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The Struggles of being Somali-American

The Struggles of being Somali-American

Being a Somali diaspora isn’t the easiest thing. I’m Somali-American, I was born and raised here in Seattle but my family comes from Somalia. I speak the language and truly appreciate my culture. I never been back home but I made sure Somalia never left me. My parents made sure they implanted my culture from a young age. Growing up before school I was only taught Somali. I was born and raised in the states but my parents feared the western culture would dominate my Somali culture. Thankfully that didn’t happen, I love my American and Somali culture equally.

After some time of growing up, I realized being a diaspora of Somalia wasn’t always the best thing. My family in Somalia told me I wouldn’t be accepted in Somalia since I had the privilege of living in the U.S. These made me sad and never want to visit Somalia. Since I was going to be made fun of and treated really bad. As time went by, I realized my American culture wasn’t as accepting as I thought. Being a Somali- Muslim girl is pretty scary. Did I mention I came from an immigrant family as well? I’m told to go back home and that my ethnicity and religion took away my ability to be American. Something both of my nationalities had in common was not accepting me.

In 7th grade, I fell in love with journalism. I love the idea of storytelling and the concept of connecting the world by sharing a story. I want to be the voice for those who don’t one, and I know I can make a difference in the world through journalism. I was inspired by my Somali culture; storytelling is really big in Somalia. I was admired many American journalists and wanted to follow in their footsteps.

As a Somali girl, my career choices are long decided for me even before I was born. These choices were to be a doctor, a teacher, or an engineer. In my culture, these are the only careers considered successful and deemed beneficial to Somalia’s future. My goal is to choose a career that I enjoy, and also helps the people of my country.

My family does not believe journalism will help Somalia. They remind me of the many journalists that are killed for doing their job. They tell me journalism is not for me, due to my beliefs and ethnicity. My parents are worried that I can’t report in Somalia because the rights of the press aren’t protected by the constitution like it is here in America. My goal is to one day report in Somalia but my main goal is to be a journalist here in America so that I can tell the stories of underserved, immigrant communities such as the people from Somalia.

The lack of Somali and Muslim girls pursuing journalism is the very reason I need to continue my pursuit. There will be many young girls after me who will feel this same discouragement. Instead, they will have someone to look up to. Thanks to my Nationalities, I found my calling in this world and want to start a media platform for people of color. I also aspire to be the first Somali-Hijabi news anchor on CNN.


About The Author

Ahlaam Ibraahim

Ahlaam Ibraahim is a senior at Rainier Beach High School. She started the Viking Shield Newspaper when she was a freshman and has been passionately writing about her community ever since. When she is not writing about important events, she can be found organizing future important events through ASB. She looks forward to studying journalism in college next year.

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