All posts by hroble


Being raised in the United States for the larger portion of my life, I faced many difficulties growing up due to the culture conflict, these later turned into life-changing experiences. I am from Somalia. Somalia, a country filled with violence and brutality. A country filled with brick houses demolished to the ground. A country where missiles fly in the air and bullets penetrate the place you call home. A country where the cattle roam free and the humans wonder without a destination.  A country where even the youngest child shows hope by screaming “Somali hanoolaato!,” meaning long live Somalia. Somalia has since become a place of devastation and massacre. Somalia was no longer a place of peace and tranquility but transformed into a place of hardship.

Though both of my parents were illiterate, and many considered my circumstance “disadvantaged”, I was determined to become educated in hopes of escaping the dire situation in which I grew up. My siblings and I were the first to acquire formal higher education. Due to the inability of my parents to guide my education and the lack of role models in my community, I have had to make all the important decisions about my college education and career by myself. Some may consider this a burden, but I learned to be independent at a young age and make responsible decisions. I am motivated to learn and comprehend rather than by just attaining a grade. As a student, I managed to keep several jobs at once to supplement the income of my family and invest in my community by tutoring and mentoring youth.

I am a person who has confronted her own brokenness: a father I knew from a distance, who visited one day a week to be with his other family and a mother who struggled like a single parent to pay the bills and raise 7 children. I remember her working dawn to dusk; waking up three in the morning to open her restaurant to serve truck drivers. Of the many adversities, I have faced in life, the worst was witnessing the outbreak of the civil war in Somalia. It forced countless Somalis to flee their homes to go abroad, seeking peace and security in another country. Being one of the victims of this tragedy, I lived for a couple of years with my family in Kenya as a refugee. In the fall of 1994 my life drastically changed when my family and I relocated to the United States in search for a better life.


Story time

Ahmednur Ali was a very young and talented man, but his life was taken away.  My cousin Ahmednur was only twenty years old, and he was murdered in front of the Brian Coyle Community Center. Brian Coyle is in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, which is the home of the most Somali immigrants in Minnesota. Ahmednur was walking back to Augsburg College from volunteering at Brian Coyle, and he got into an argument with Somali gang members at the center. The gang member retaliated against my brother and shot him to death. Ali was murdered in broad daylight, and there were plenty of witnesses that saw him get murdered, but they wouldn’t want to step up because they fear their lives. Now in time I understood what life is. Being a Muslim person I believe in the hereafter, heaven, or hell, and that this life is just temporary. I got caught up with this materialistic life style and stopped being the best Muslim I can be, but that changed after my cousin died it was a wakeup call because I was with him a couple of hours before and after that he was just gone. In Islam, there is quote Inna Allah wa Inna Allah rajuun meaning “To Allah we belong, to Allah we will return “. Life can be taken away from you in any moment, and death is the only thing in life that will happen for sure to ever single human being. After this event I became a better Muslim, started to wear the hijab (my head scarf) more, started to pray my prayers and started to understand what life truly means.

Islam is unique in that it is more than a religion—rather it is a complete way of life providing a belief system and code of conduct for a successful and happy society. I decided to research and speak about my religion because it has a big influence in my life and everything I do. As a Muslim woman, how we are seen in society in my opinion needs to be cleared and this was the perfect opportunity to do just that. Islam not only influences my relationships but everything else that goes on in my life. This blog gave me a chance to write about my view of things without having to shy away or worry about other people’s opinion.islam

Moral Obligation

“Between now and tomorrow morning, 40,000 children will starve to death. The day after tomorrow, 40,000 more children will die” In a world that has enough to spare, the amount of human beings dying or suffering from hunger, malnutrition, and hunger related diseases is staggering. It is known that people that are well off come to help those who are in jeopardy of death due to starvation. Most people think that the famished and malnourished should be helped.

The United Nations wanted 1 billion dollars to take care of the famine belongings but only got 1/3 of that.I think we are morally obligated to help the starving mass. Put yourself in their shoes. The issue with people is that many (though not all), were born into incredibly fortunate circumstances especially in the United States. They grew up with good education opportunities, mentors who supported them, food to eat and clothes on their back. Most of the world’s poorest have no control over the poverty they were born into and consequently effects their life. Everyone is dealt a different hand and I firmly believe we each have a moral obligation to give back as much as possible.

What seem like pennies in the eyes of the wealthy translates to days of food, a year of school, or clothes on one’s back to the worlds neediest. Granted, yes I agree that money doesn’t solve our world’s problems. The US is the leading country in international aid, yet the world is still plagued by poverty, hunger, and disease. We need more people willing to fight from the public level, but these individuals need money to do so.


A person should look outside of their welfare of one’s society. So instead of thinking about spending money on that new item you saw at mall you could use that money to benefit a starving person elsewhere. If this will prevent an end to a well-known starvation, then it is worth taking the risk.

Some may argue that money should not be given to relief programs until there is an effective population growth control. That in relieving famine it will only temporarily post pone the inevitable starvation. So why help with reliving if it will affect their future?  Another assumption is that if people do not donate money then the government will so why waste their personal money that they can use to support themselves and their families? But is that money and aid given by the government enough for ALL those people? It doesn’t hurt to sacrifice a bit of your hard-earned wealth.

And it should not matter if that person is near you or further away on the other side of the world for you to help them. We should give until we reach the level of Marginal utility.  One should give what they can but it is not an obligation if they don’t have it.


Mammies & Matriarchs

In “Mammies, Matriarchs, and Other Controlling Images,” by Patricia Hill Collins. We see the different stereotypical roles given to African American women by society. Per Collins stereotypes do one of two things, “They can serve to hide or to normalize oppression by making it seem something that the oppressed person wants to do or something that comes from the oppressed person’s nature.” Or “They can serve to coerce people into acting in certain ways.” These stereotypes function as a generalized “reality” to people.


The “mammy” figure locks African American women into narrow conceptions that hamper them in and that symbolize an image that according to Collins is that of the “faithful, obedient, domestic servant”. It dates back to the time in which African American women were slaves, and took care of their White children in more of a nurturing and caring way than they take care of their own family. Collins says that the mammy figure “aims to influence black maternal behavior…” which in turn helps to reinforce this image to black women who later teach this to their children. “The mammy acts as the face that white people want African women to undertake” and it helps to hide the fact that black women are being exploited by white families. This stereotype implements the fact that black labor is being controlled by white families and in turn locks African American women into notions that restrain them.

Also In the article Collins portrays the “mammy” as desexualized/ asexualized in that she is harmless and unable to do harm because of her all giving nature. She is a surrogate mother who is devoted to her White family and committed to her job. The jezebel or hoochie on the other hand is seen as a “sexual freak”. They were forced to work as “wet nurses” and hence seen as having “excessive sexual appetites”. They are also illustrated as being very sexually aggressive symbolizes deviant female sexuality.

The Matriarch is another stereotypical image for African American women that take on a different approach. Rather than aiming for maternal behavior the Matriarch symbolizes the assertive Black woman who is looked upon as a bad mother. “As overly aggressive un feminine women, Black Matriarchs allegedly emasculated their lovers and husbands”. and she is an unsuccessful mother because she is always away working. The point of the Matriarch is to punish black women’s’ assertiveness and to show that this is the only thing they will become if they don’t follow other norms. “From the dominant group’s perspective, the matriarch represented a failed mammy, a negative stigma applied to African American women who dared reject the image of submissive, hardworking servant”. The “dominant group” being in reference to whites. The Matriarch makes it seem as though Black women are more “masculine” than others. Black women who are not feminine and do not act as the “mammy” or “jezebel” are threatened to turn into the Matriarch. We often see this figure in the movies which in turn helps to establish this belief.

On the other hand we also see the “Welfare Mother”. The problem with this stereotype is that the mother does not work and spends too much time with her children. The “Welfare Mother” can be looked upon by some as a failed mammy. “Relying on the public dole, Black welfare queens are content to take the hard-earned money of tax paying Americans and remain married to the state”. This is referring to the fact that the welfare mother does not have a husband to provide for her and is therefore relying on the government.

Black women are caught in a double bind. If they act too feminine and nurturing they will be judged as the Mammy. If they act too assertive they will be labeled the Matriarch, if they stay with their kids they will be called a “Welfare Mother” and if they act too sexual they will be judged as a “hoochie” or jezebel. In this sense I feel as though society has put extra constrain on how African American women are viewed. I also feel like Collins is being biased in the sense that she limits the African-American Woman’s titles to being only of those that she mentioned.

Stereotypes have made us develop many social constructs within different groups of people. Stereotypes spread from racism which still goes on to this day. There remains a large gap between nonracial America and society in this current day.

Click to access CollinsMammies.pdf

Gender Roles

Society believes there are specific characteristics that define female and male and the way they should act.   This helps to dictates how gender roles play out.  In most cases, the gender norms are clear and more importantly, they are expected to be followed. When constructed gender roles are broken, there are various consequences depending on the severity of the rule broken. For example in a book I was recently reading the narrator is “black and gay” in turn he is ridiculed for this throughout his life. He is referred to as “white washed” and a “lady”. They associate the fact that he talks proper with being “white” and how he acts with being “feminine”. These are both seen as socially constructed by society and norms that we feel the need to follow.

Our society expects women to act in a certain way as well i.e. loving children not using harsh language, overall acting “lady like”. Whereas they expect the man to be strong and capable, Women are typically expected to the housework such as cleaning, cooking, and dealing with the children whereas the man is socially known to bring home the paycheck. The only housework the man is expected to do is those jobs that require the use of tools. It is similarly seen with children, girls are expected to play with dolls, and play house. As opposed to boys who are expected to play with trucks and video games.gender

In the first link provided about sex and gender Judith Butler argues: “That belief (in stable identities and gender differences) is, in fact, compelled “by social sanction and taboo”. This is an opinion that I believe to be true.

In this world it is very hard to define exactly what traits make one feminine and which traits make someone masculine. If a woman is very assertive or competitive she is seen to have masculine traits whereas if she’s gentle and loves children she’s considered feminine. women can have qualities of both men and women without being chastised by society whereas men would be mocked if they were ever to be feminine. Gender roles are a huge social construct that we were supposed to follow from birth throughout our lives. The second link includes a video as well as an in depth look into how these roles were constructed.

Muslim Women


In society, there are some misconceptions about who Muslim women are and the identity they have.  Through hasty generalizations, Muslim women are often depicted as being only Arab, figures of oppression, and being poles apart with everyone. Popular media fails to recognize the diversity in this group in terms of race, ethnicity, nationality, cultural norms, gender role, education attainment level, occupation and upbringing. I believe that the intersection of social inequalities in these identifying components has rendered Muslim women invisible in society.


In the first picture, there is a group of four women wearing black veils-known as the niqab– over their faces. In the second picture, there is another group of three women who are all wearing the niqab also. The third picture shows three women who are all wearing the niqab and the abaya- a long, loose garment that looks like a dress. The fourth picture shows two women who wearing the niqab and the abaya. In the fifth picture, there is one woman wearing a gray hijab with green eyes. The sixth picture and the seventh picture shows a women wearing the niqab. The pictures are zoomed into their faces, focusing on their eyes. In all three, the women have eye makeup.  In eighth picture, there are four women who don’t have their faces covered. They are wearing chadors– a long garment that covers the head and body. The ninth picture shows one man with a sword and a group of women with their hands tied. They are completely covered, including their eyes. The last picture shows a girl with brown hair with a sign. The signs says “I can support women’s right with my clothes on.” Nine out of the ten pictures show a generalized image of Muslim women.


These pictures contain some sorts of inequality. Although Muslim women come from different races, ethnicities and nationalities, these pictures fail to exhibit this. Race is defined as “groupings of people believed to share common descent, based on perceived innate physical similarities”. Considering this definition, all the women in these pictures are Asian. Despite this exclusion, Muslim women may come from any of these racial groups: black, Asian, white, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian.  This is contrary to society’s belief that Muslim is synonymous with Arab.  Muslim women may be from the same race but have different ethnicities or nationalities. An example is that two Muslim women could identify themselves as being Asian but one identifies her ethnicity as Yemeni and the other identifies herself as Syrian. Another example is when two women identify their race as black but one identifies her ethnicity as Gambian and another as Sudanese. This diversity is absent from these pictures.

This identification process becomes more complex when nationality is put into the equation. Due to the diaspora of people in the last half century, a person’s ethnicity may be dissimilar from their nationality. For example, in Cecile Thun’s Norwegianness as lived citizenship, there is a woman named Fatima who is Pakistani Norwegian (Thun, 2012). Fatima’s ethnicity is Pakistani while her nationality is Norwegian. Although she is Norwegian, people view as her being a foreigner. The intersection in her identity, being Pakistani, Muslim and Norwegian, causes the larger Norwegian society to view her as not being equal to the majority Norwegians. This belief may give rise to social stratification for Muslim women in diaspora.


The diversity of Muslim women is such that they differ in race, ethnicity, nationality, cultural norms, gender roles, educational attainment level, occupation and upbringing. Social inequalities that stem from the intersection of these identifiers cause Muslim women to become stereotyped in society.