Jamal Bana had been a top student at Washburn high School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, before he began studying engineering. Then, last November, he disappeared.
His parents found a photo of his body, quite dead, online. He had been killed in Somalia.
Somali-Americans, particularly people in families of the young Minnesotans who have disappeared recently, aren't at all happy about what's happening.
"The family of a Somali-American man who died in Somalia have said they want to know who is responsible for recruiting him to join an al Qaeda-linked Islamist insurgency.I'm none too pleased with the situation, myself.
"Jamal Bana is the third Somali-American from the city of Minneapolis to head to Somalia and die there. He is one of more than a dozen missing Somali-American men whose families believe have gone back to fight.
" 'Someone must have put something in his mind,' Omar Jamal of Minneapolis' Somali Justice Advocacy Center said at a Sunday news conference with Bana's family.
" 'He must have been somewhat disillusioned and indoctrinated because he didn't have any clue about Somalia at all. So someone somewhere must be responsible for his disappearance.'
"The same day as the family's news conference, Somalia's president -- a former member of the Islamist movement himself -- issued a plea to Somali-Americans not to join the fight in his country...." (CNN)
Minnesotans Recruited for Terror: Why I Take it PersonallyMy ancestors left the general vicinity of Somalia over 85,000 years ago, most likely (November 1, 2007, in another blog), so I don't have much of a family connection with people whose immediate ancestors lived there.
Getting Used to New NeighborsToday, Somali-Americans (as well as other hyphenated Americans) are fellow-Minnesotans, my neighbors. It looks like many settled in Minnesota for economic reasons, not because they liked the climate: just like many of my ancestors.
They're the families who shared a waiting room with me.
They're the people who go to the Somali Cafe, and are involved in the Somali Student Association, down in St. Cloud.
I haven't checked, but if there isn't a Somali family or two living in Melrose, the next town east and south of here, there will be soon: Minnesota's poultry industry has a few employment opportunities there.
I've read, in learned writings, how racism and cultural gaps abound in "mono-ethnic" towns in this area. There's probably something to that. I've had to deal with the issue of being half-Irish: not often, but it's happened. And, on top of everything else, Somalis aren't, by and large, either Lutheran, Baptist, or Catholic. Many or most follow Islam.
That makes a difference, sort of. Being Muslims and Muslimas, they're the people who go to the Islamic Center in St. Cloud, the professor who made invited a class which included one of my daughters to come and observe Friday prayer.
Of course, there's racism in Minnesota. As I've said elsewhere, there are jerks everywhere. central Minnesota included.
The point I'm trying to make is, the Bana family are my neighbors: at least to the extent that we both live in Minnesota. What hurts them hurts me, albeit indirectly.
The Banas, the Hassans, Everyone, are People: Not a Demographic or The MassesDespite the sad news of another Minnesota family dealing with a dead son, I was relieved to read a news article that recognized new Minnesotans as individuals: people who were members of families; sons, fathers, mothers, daughters.
After reading about ethnic refugees who came to America, were involved with a capitalistic institution, became disillusioned, and subsequently decided to return to Somalia, the CNN article's focus on one of the young Minnesotans was a relief.
It some of America's subcultures, it's too easy to forget that those who aren't members of one's own circle aren't "the masses": They're people, each with his or her own hopes, challenges, and family background.
- "Somali-Americans in Minnesota: According to The New York Times"
(July 12, 2009)
- "Somali-American Rally in Protest Against Terrorism in Minneapolis Today: Probably"
(July 3, 2009)
- "Somali-Americans Rally Against Extremism Tomorrow: But Who Cares?"
(July 2, 2009)
- "Somalia, Minnesota, Traditional Journalism, and Unpleasant Realities
(July 1, 2009)
- "Kenya and Somalia: Getting Along with Crazy Neighbors"
(June 25, 2009)
- "Another Minnesotan Dies in Somalia: Not Your Stereotype African"
(June 7, 2009)
- "Sounds of Silence: 2009"
(March 31, 2009)
- "Somalia, Minnesota, and Common Sense"
(March 22, 2009)
- "Minnesotans Recruited for Terror?"
(March 10, 2009)
- "Castro, Cuba, Guevara, Traditional Gatekeepers, and the Information Age"
(January 30, 2009)
- "Recruiting for Terror? Somali Minnesotans Missing, One Found Dead"
(December 4, 2008)
- "Terrorists as an Oppressed Class: That was Then, This is Now"
(February 23, 2008)
- "Cool Heads, Lukewarm Brains, And Dr. Haneef"
(July 30, 2007)
- "Starvation, Poverty, and Perceptions"
(July 18, 2007)
- "A Better Class of Terrorist"
(July 8, 2007)
- "Doublethink, Doctors, and Dumb Ideas"
(July 3, 2007)
- "Doctors, Terrorists, and the Proletariat: What's a Person to Think?"
(July 3, 2007)
- "Arrests, Doctors and Terrorists: Keeping a Cool Head"
(July 2, 2007)
- "Somali-American's family: Who sent son to die?"
CNN (July 13, 2009)
- "SOMALI IMMIGRANT SETLEMENT IN SMALL MINNESOTA AND WISCONSIN COMMUNITIES "
Jessica Schaid and Dr. Zoltan Grossman, Geography and Native American Studies, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA (Summer, 2003)
- Standard-issue academic treatment of "racism and cultural gaps in previously monoethnic rural towns."
- "Dhalinyarada iyo xafladaha (Teens and Social Gatherings- Somali)"
Minnesota Extension Service
- "Somali Night in St. Cloud, Minnesota."
Ahmed Said, BigNews.biz (January 25, 2009)