Reflect: Key People, Connections and Discussion Questions

This page is about reflection. You’ll find a list of some of the key people and organizations relevant to this section. You’ll also find a section called intersectionality to encourage thinking about how different issues are connected, and discussion questions to encourage deeper thinking. Take some time to answer the questions, look these people up and learn more about their stories.

The content on this site is not complete: there are countless numbers of people and so many stories — from small acts of defiance to major leadership positions — that didn’t get recorded or that don’t often make it into textbooks.

This website is meant to be grown and improved upon. We’ve included some of the heroes, but if you know people we are missing, let us know so we can include their stories too.

Key People & Groups

  • Somali Action Alliance
  • Confederation of Somali community of MN
  • New Americans PAC
  • Abdi Warsame
  • Somali Community Link Radio
  • Mohamud Noor
  • Ilhan Omar
  • Center for Popular Democracy
  • Oromo Community of Minnesota

Intersectionality

Once again, it is important to keep in mind that there are many differences in identity within communities.

Multiple countries and cultures make up the region of East Africa, and individuals within those cultures have various intersecting identities that affect the way they experience the world.

 Christianity is the dominant religion in Ethiopia. When Ethiopian refugees began coming to the United States in the 1990’s, the majority of those who were admitted were Christian, partially as a tactic by the U.S. government to encourage assimilation.

By contrast, the majority of Somali Americans are Muslim, meaning that the Somali identity of many individuals intersects with a Muslim identity. This also means that Somali communities experience Islamophobia.

Though their experiences with oppression are rooted in different histories, East African people experience anti-Black racism much like African Americans and people from other regions of Africa.

Also, given that many people from East Africa are immigrants themselves or closely descended from immigrants, discrimination in the form of xenophobia an irrational fear of or prejudice against people from other countries. In the United States, this manifests as discrimination against immigrants, most often immigrants of color factors into their experiences.

There are commonalities and shared experiences within the identity of East African, as well as with other communities who identify as being of African heritage.

However, in studying the history of various communities, it is vital to develop an understanding of the way that overlapping identities such as race, religion, immigration status, and country and culture of origin can vastly affect the way an individual from a specific community experiences the world.

Discussion Questions: 
How do the experiences of the East African community demonstrate the impact that organizing, especially at the grassroots level, can have on the political landscape?
In what ways do things like racism and xenophobia pose as indirect barriers to civic engagement?
How the experiences of East Africans differ from those of African Americans? In what ways do they intersect?