AT THE INTERSECTION | Why MCTC’s decision to reprimand Shannon Gibney for teaching structural racism is an investment in white male power

I’m sure by now, most of you have heard about Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s (MCTC) decision to reprimand faculty member Shannon Gibney, after two students filed a complaint accusing her of singling them out — based on their race and gender — in class.For some context: the class was about structural racism, the students who complained were white males, and Gibney is a woman of color (whom I read as a black woman).  When I first heard that Gibney was being reprimanded because two white males felt like they were victims, the first thing I thought was, “how ridiculous.” As someone who understands how US power relations and racial hierarchies work, I couldn’t miss the irony: that she, a woman of color, was being accused of attacking white males in her class, because she was teaching about structural racism.To me, this is a textbook case of how white male privilege works. This is just one possible example of how white men can get away with “victimization” in conversations about the reality of white systems of oppression. The momentary white guilt they may feel when people of color bring up their lived realities of racism and racial violence makes them a “victim,” when the real victims are those in communities of color who live with such traumas every single day.MCTC’s decision to reprimand Gibney signals the college’s investment in protecting white male hurt feelings, and white male power. What I mean by this is that, despite the realities of structural racism faculty and students of color constantly face, and despite the very real power dynamics faculty of color experience in the classroom, the hurt feelings of a few white men trumped that. Continue Reading

Is national media coverage of Cedar Riverside fire connected to scrutiny of Somali Americans?

I woke up Tuesday morning to Facebook posts from my Somali American friends expressing their sadness and confusion about the Cedar Riverside apartment fire that day. The fire left 14 injured, destroyed a halal market, and also partially damaged a nearby mosque. Many of my friends and acquaintances were in disbelief and shock at the news as the new year began.I also noticed national and international media (CNN, The Guardian, NY Daily News) covered the fire as well, and my first question was: Why? Neighborhood fires happen all the time; what is the national peg of a Twin Cities fire? I am not trying to take away from this tragedy, but, I’m sure there are many tragedies that have killed or injured more people or caused far more damage, but have not made it to national news. Continue Reading

OUR STORIES | Burhan Mohumed: ‘Losing our sense of security’

Burhan Mohumed is a Somali American Cedar Riverside resident, and works as an advocate at the Brian Coyle Center. He also helps lead the Brotherhood Program for young Somali males. Here are Mohumed’s thoughts about the Cedar Riverside fire that destroyed a halal market and apartment complex, and left 14 injured.When and how did you find out about the fire? “I was dead asleep and woke up around noon. One of my friends called me saying, ‘Hey did you know one of the halal stores burned down?’ And I was like what? Continue Reading

OUR STORIES | Fartun Ahmed: ‘People are just really sad’

Fartun Ahmed is a Somali American who lives in Hopkins, and identifies as a Cedar Riverside community member. She went to witness the aftermath of the Cedar Riverside fire that destroyed a halal market and apartment complex, and left 14 injured. Here are her thoughts about what happened.Do you live or work in Cedar Riverside? No but I was a student at the Islamic school way before it became Dar al Hijrah mosque. I saw somebody post something on Facebook at 8:40am, and i first thought the fire happened in the [Riverside Plaza] towers.Were you shocked?It was pretty shocking the moment we found out. Continue Reading

MN Videos | Talkin’ Dinkytown

The historic business district of Dinkytown has been a staple point in the cultural fabric of the University of Minnesota for decades. One could easily spend a day (or week!) exploring the vast variety of shopping and delicious cuisine Dinkytown has to offer. Today many of the old businesses are being replaced with large apartment complexes and bigger business. Dinkytown is changing, but as the buildings get built higher, the people remain grounded. Watch this short film and discover why Dinkytown, Minnesota is indeed “where the love is found.”Directed By Spencer KnottOriginal Song: “Talkin’ Dinkytown” Written & Performed By Kevin NoonanProduced By Spencer Knott & Kevin Noonan Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Immigration reform: Shared humanity matters more than differences

Although I have not suffered the agony of navigating my way through this country’s broken immigration system, I have experienced the trauma that it causes by keeping people from the ones they love. It is something I think about as I follow the Fast for Families happening in Washington, D.C., and events across the country in support of commonsense immigration reform.I am an African-American. Born outside of Minneapolis to immigrant parents from Eritrea, I was well aware of the challenges of the immigrant experience, but it wasn’t until I told my parents about my work on SEIU’s immigration reform campaign that they related to me the details of my mother’s experience living as an undocumented worker for the first few years of my life.My mother entered the United States after fleeing Saudi Arabia; she was granted a visa to visit my father, who had arrived the year before as a refugee after working at a camp in Sudan. My parents were engaged in Eritrea but separated by the effects of war.By the time my sister and I were born, our mother’s visa had expired and she was facing deportation. In our culture, it’s nearly sinful to separate young children from their mother, so my parents were struggling with this choice: to keep their children from their mother and raise them in the country they sacrificed so much to reach, or to raise them away from their father in their war-torn homeland.My father–the very stubborn, but also incredibly smart man that he is–insisted that our family would not be separated. Continue Reading

AT THE INTERSECTION | The Holiday season for Muslim Americans can be awkward, but I am still grateful

Thanksgiving has passed, but the holiday season is just beginning. We are getting back this week from a four-day Thanksgiving break, Hannukah started last Thursday, and people are already preparing for Christmas and Kwanzaa. The annual Hollidazzle parade began last Friday, and downtown is decorated with Christmas lights. I’ve also noticed Facebook buzzing with people’s holiday music playlists, and not to mention seasonal caramel brulee lattes and other hot winter drinks are finally back (my two favorite parts of the season)!As a Muslim American who is not a fan of the snow and cold, I still love the holiday season. Sure, my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving, but the holidays are always a time to reflect and enjoy the company of those whom you love. Continue Reading