Despite all the drama in Washington, D.C., most of us must just go on, day to day with our usual lives. These days have suddenly changed, however, for people in our broader community.
I’m speaking of the Twin City Somali-American community. Their sense of safety and level of comfort have been suddenly shaken. I feel I must stand up for them.
Keeping in mind that St. Croix and Pierce counties are part of the Twin Cities metro, Donald Trump invaded our space with his vulgar vitriol against Mayor Jacob Frey, U.S. Rep. Ilhar Omar, and the entire Somali-American community two weeks ago in Minneapolis. In his speech, Trump touted his “travel ban” on Muslims. (Early in office, he referenced them as refugees from f------- Somalia.”)
I met with Somalian refugees in temporary camps in Kenya while they were awaiting their journey to America. They had endured decades of warlords and terrorist groups and feared for their lives. They were excited and hopeful, and I told them how happy I would be to have them as neighbors when they arrived.
Somalian women take care of me and clean my room when I'm in the hospital. They push my wheelchair when I fly out of the Twin Cities. They’ve offered their children to me as students and friends in my classrooms at University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
But here’s the worst part: crowds of white parents and their white children stood up and cheered over the vulgar and shameful words from our president. Afterwards, uneasy Somalians remarked that they never knew they were hated this much. Others fear for safety and that of their children.
Regardless of politics, can’t we at least agree that undignified hate speech has no place in our community? Especially from our president? Those who cheered him on -- in front of their children, our nation, and the global arena -- are debasing themselves and our country’s values. I feel that if we don’t speak out about it, we are complicit.