The new generation of Somali Americans are active, energetic, and ready to be represented; they are hungry for opportunity and are willing to fight for a place in the American melting pot. Divided between the old ideas of the past and the new ideals of the present, the Somali community is ready to use the political process to make a mark for themselves in Minnesota: the place they now call home.
Waiting in the lobby of the Minneapolis City Hall, I watched as active constituents walked by to meet with their council members––quite a busy afternoon for a Thursday. I wasn’t there to meet with my council member, but instead, to meet with a young woman named Ilhan Omar, the DFL Vice Chair in District 60, and senior policy aide to Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson (Ward 12).
Originally hesitant to meet for an interview after having been involved in a dispute at the local DFL caucus a few weeks prior, she kindly agreed to meet with me to discuss her life and love of politics. And when Omar crossed the lobby bearing a huge smile and traditional hijab saying, “Hello! You must be Parker––I am so excited to meet you in person,” I knew that I had found an invaluable asset for learning about the Somali Political Movement. After joking about whether we were Political Science majors or undercover reporters from the Star Tribune, I explained, much to her surprise, that my videographer and I were actually here for our school newspaper and that we wanted to ask her about her role in politics, and how the Somali community was organizing to make their political mark.