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Black History Month Edition

Volume NO 2 Issue NO 2 February 2014

Table of Contents
1 2 3 4 5 6
A New Vision for Disrupting and Dismantling a System That Divides Us Using the Arts as a Unifying Force An Interview with Nontombi Naomi Tutu

My Africa, Myself

The Power of a United Community, a United Voice The Ancestral Energy That Prevails in America

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This article and the following articles are included in this special edition of the Youthprise NewsFlash in honor of Black History Month. The theme for Youthprises 2014 Black History Month Celebration is Honoring our Common Heritage and Promoting Solidarity.

Collaborative Development:
A New Vision for Disrupting and Dismantling a System That Divides Us
In continuing their mission to champion learning beyond the classroom so that all Minnesota youth thrive, Youthprise is supporting a partnership with three Twin Citiesbased organizations: The Givens Foundation for African American Literature, Juxtaposition Arts, and the Saint Paul Almanac. This partnership has founded a monumentally unique collaborative development model to evolve the world of development through our shared practices and values.

This publication is an example of our common values and intention to break down the silos that separate funding opportunities, organizations, and communities. The writers of the articles come from diverse African American communities and are affiliated with Juxtaposition Arts and the Saint Paul Almanac. To celebrate Youthprises Black History Month, the theme for this publication is Honoring Our Common Heritage and Promoting Solidarity. 2
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The articles included in this publication are intended to illustrate the common heritage but different histories of the various Minnesota African American communities and to promote the similarities among them and the solidarity that can arise.
The development profession, like many of the systems in place in our society today, can be very exclusionary, held within the connes of established practice. In our collaborative development project, we hope to put forth a tangible example of cooperation, inclusion, and reciprocity that can be replicated, not only within our own organizations, but also by other groups. We also hope that this project will be a successful example of working outside of the norms of established industries, institutions, and systems.

The partnership aims to reach out to and break the silos that separate organizations across the board.
By paying special attention to the disenfranchised groups that we serve and partnering with established sources of power, we can disabuse ourselves of the social constructions (e.g., race, ethnicity, class) that divide us.

Initially, Youthprise served as a funder for our various programs individually. Impressed by the collaborative development project, Youthprise began to take a more involved supportive role in the collaboration. As a result, the project has grown even more innovative and hopes to increase its success. Originally, to diversify and strengthen the fundraising strategies for our community-based arts programs, the three organizations planned to hire one development officer, who would work in concert with each organization. Upon further consideration, we changed the plan to hire a development 3
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manager and development apprentices to work as a team. This teams work includes development tasks, such as grant writing and donor management, and now incorporates media communications and event planning. We feel that hiring youth to be educated and paid as apprentices falls in line with our values to mentor youth and better maximizes our efforts. The three apprenticesShaunt Douglas, Gozong Lor, and Iled by manager Lisa Steinmann, come from the Saint Paul Almanac, where we have worked or currently work as editors. The most important feature of the team is that our cohort not only receives education in development, but we also practice development and work in conjunction with the executive officers of each organization.

Youth+adult partnerships

are central to Youthprises mission.


As an organization, they incorporate youth voices throughout their work; they employ young people, recruit youth board members, and seek partnerships with organizations that model youth-adult partnerships. This mentorship is a natural continuation of the work each organization is already doing with their youth affiliates. The partners all have a

as grant writers and fundraisers and to serve on boards of organizations. 4


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commitment to working with youth and providing them with the opportunity to gain leadership experience and to secure employment. In this new partnership, youth learn to work
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The idea for this venture stemmed from a shared need to increase our fund development. Kim Klein, publisher and editor of Grassroots Fundraising Journal and the author of Fundraising for Social Change, writes that the following are prerequisites for organizations to partake in successful fundraising collaborations: The groups have similar values and they trust each other. Ideally, groups will have even worked together on other efforts. The division of money and labor is decided beforehand. Although the donations raised cannot be predicted, each group is getting donations from their own list. The reward must be greater than if each group had attempted the strategy on its own. Kleins comments are indicative of how our collaboration works. Though the organizations differ widely in geographical areas, participants, audiences, size of staff and funding, and business models, we discovered common values that are foundational to our plan. They are both shared organizational values and personal values put forth by Paul Schmitz of Public Allies in his book, Everyone Leads. The values are recognizing and mobilizing community assets, connecting across cultures, facilitating collaborative action, continuously learning and improving, and being accountable. As a group, we have agreed to investigate growing our development capacity. Over the course of two years, we plan to continually research collaborative development models, talk with industry professionals, and reconvene to hone our plan. We believe our organizations can use these shared values to increase our development capacity and knowledge, build trusting long-term relationships with each other, successfully raise new money for each of our institutions, measure our successes and failures, apply lessons learned, and share them with the broader community.

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For more than twenty-ve years, The Givens Foundation for African American Literature has been the only organization in the Twin Cities exclusively dedicated to advancing and celebrating Black literature and writers for diverse audiences of all ages. Find out More, Givens.org Juxtaposition Arts develops community by engaging and employing young urban artists in hands-on education. Students have opportunities to be employed while learning and teaching professional design, production, and marketing skills. All Artwork used, Provided by JXTA Find out More, JuxtapositionArts.org The Saint Paul Almanac is a literary organization that creates opportunities for understanding, learning, and building relationships through sharing peoples stories. This mission is primarily accomplished through collaborative decision making in publication activities, public readings, and mentorships. Find out More SaintPaulAlmanac.org
Shaquan Foster is a University Shaquan Foster of Minnesota student and Writer for Saint Paul Almanac philanthropist dedicated to the universe of literature. He works predominantly with the Saint Paul Almanac, while also working in a local bookstore and attending university full time.
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Using the Arts as a Unifying Force


Ive been an artist all my life. I was rst introduced to the idea of the arts as a profession at age seven, when I enrolled into the fall program at Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA). One of the rst things Roger Cummings and Peyton Russell, as the lead instructors, drilled into the young minds of the artists in their hands was that art is a traditiona series of stories to be drawn upon in order to tell new stories. For a program that served mostly Black kids, this meant we learned a lot about our form of storytelling as a link in the tradition of African storytelling. And its nothing new. African American artists have drawn inspiration from their African roots from the time they were swept from the African coast until the time they were emancipated, through the Black Arts Movement founded by Amiri Baraka, and beyond. As a Black artist, youre taught to nd inspiration in African artifacts and symbols. During the past few months, Ive had the opportunity to work with a group of Somali youth at the Brian Coyle Center in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis. As an instructor, I work exclusively with communities of color and
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Art is a traditiona series of stories to be drawn upon in order to tell new stories.

have become skilled at drawing out true feelings from people who have been historically silenced. African immigrants know the stereotypes about themselves, and they know the stereotypes about African Americansthey notice a lot of overlap. Despite the imposed idea that African Americans are the lowest American ethnic group that no one should aspire to join, these kids cant help but feel inspired by Black artists and Black pop culture. In some sense, this inspiration is on a surface level, but as I talk with these kidsabout the stories they want to tell and their experiences as immigrantsI understand they see commonality with African American kids their age. They know that African Americans have used ethnic slurs when referring to them, but most of them seem to understand it as a self-hatred that extends beyond them. One young woman asked me plainly, Whos most likely to benet if us and Blacks have beef? The question is valid. When African 8
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African immigrants know the stereotypes about themselves, and they know the stereotypes about African Americansthey notice a lot of overlap.
Americans and African immigrants see each other as the problem, who benets?

At the end of the day, African Americans dont run the global economy; we dont pillage African lands for chocolate, coffee, minerals, and the like; and we dont sell illegal weapon systems to African warlords. And, likewise, Africans arent in police uniforms bashing in the heads of African Americans; they dont dominate the judicial system that plagues the African American community; theyre not strangling the possibility of a quality education at public schools or withholding job opportunities for African Americans; and so on. When I consider what we have in common with African peoples, a lot of things come to mind. We both place a high value on storytelling. We act, dance, draw, paint, and write in order to preserve a history of ideas and actions. We value craftsmanship because it contributes to storytelling. In ancient Africa, all across the continent, Black people had perfected architecture, music, mathematics, stone carving, woodcarving, painting, drawing, and travel. We still hold these things in common. Individuals like Fela Kuti, Susana Baca, and Nina Simone are each products of the African storytelling tradition, though separated by three continents: Africa, South America, and North America, respectively. These artists developed largely before the Internet age, and each vibed to similar rhythms and articulated similar themes in their music. A commonality existing between the African immigrant community and the African American community that cant be denied is tragedy. We tend to confuse struggle and tragedy,
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but the two, in my opinion, are distinct. Everyone struggles, but not everyone has experienced the trauma of racial oppression, including slavery and colonization, that many African peoples have encountered historically.

Moreover, mainstream American culture often talks about these two communities as being violent, whether the reference is made to the stereotyped war-torn African country and its rebels, or to the negative representation of the African American urban gang. The African and the African American are sold a damaging narrative about each other, so I think to highlight these parallels and deconstruct them will lead to recognizing each others humanity and building community. The ability to create a sense of community starts with ownership of a physical space. JXTA is one of the only organizations run by people of color to address the need to create a viable community infrastructure in Minneapolis. While navigating the social landscape, JXTA has done a lot of work to expand their services and programs beyond Black people, which, I think, strengthens and expands creativity. But JXTA was founded by three highly motivated young Black creatives who understand its necessary to still serve Black youth. In a state that has problems delivering an adequate education for Black studentsboth African Americans and African immigrantsa place like JXTA can help a lot of these kids nd their voices. I was never a particularly good student, but at JXTA I excelled. Im also thriving in the working world, largely due to the tools JXTAs founders Roger, DeAnna, and Peyton gave me. JXTA challenges the conventional narrative that Black and Brown kids struggle to succeed in a rigorous intellectual environment, which is how Id describe the program. If more people and programs could adopt the ethos of JXTA, I think youd see a lot of the equity gaps in Minnesota public schools lling in to the point of being unrecognizable.
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The educational gap is not the only gap that affects communities of color. While we have some commonalities, I dont want to suggest that were beyond tensions between the African American and the African immigrant communities. I know these tensions exist. I know that communities of color have general tensions among themselves, but we must remember and remind ourselves of our shared history. For a peopleIll venture now to speak of us collectivelyboth communities experiences have been continually written out of history and when rewritten, doubted. Remember our shared history as a form of resistance in and of itself and use it as a point of healing. Art can help us remember. Rapper/philosopher Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, said, Good art provides people with a vocabulary about things they cant articulate. So even if we dont speak the same language or jargon, we know what we mean when we look, listen, or feel the expressions of our extended community members. The young Somali girl in my mural class was suggesting that no one benets when African American and African immigrants ght instead of unite. I admire her optimism, but I believe that someone does benet, and it certainly isnt Black people. To counteract this divisive measure and unite our communities, we would do well to intentionally implement the tradition of African storytelling in our art to convey our common history.
Jeremiah Bey Ellison works Jeremiah Bey Ellison as an artist and storyteller. Artist, Storyteller, North Minneapolis He was raised in North Minneapolis. You can see his mural work in various neighborhoods around Minneapolis, including Central, Cedar-Riverside, and the Northside. He currently lives with his girlfriend where stacks of canvases work as stand-ins until they get real furniture.
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Can We Talk?
Listening to and Telling Stories to Heal Wounds An Interview with Nontombi Naomi Tutu
A highly sought-after speaker who believes in the power of the truth, Nontombi Naomi Tutu refers to herself as a human rights advocate. Truth and Reconciliation: Healing the Wounds of Racism is one of the many topics she speaks about to inspire change. This topic urges individuals to simply communicate with one another to cure the ills that plague our societies.Ms. Tutu is from South Africa, a country where apartheid, systematic racial oppression, complicated and harmed the lives of millions of Black people through generations. Apartheid was much like the oppressive racial segregation that Black people experienced in the United States. According to Ms. Tutu, For me coming to the U.S. from South Africa, [I found] the similarities between the struggles of African Americans and Black South Africans were very striking. Our [common] struggles were to be recognized as fully human and fully competent, to be a part of the government and design of our respective countries. For both of us, race was the dening issue that affected our access to human rights, dignity, freedom, and respect. Racism in our country has spawned many problems in every aspect of our lives. Two problems are the misunderstanding that people of African descent and African peoples have about each other and the rejection that we perpetrate against each other. As a result, we segregate ourselves from one another. For instance, here in the Twin Cities there is a noticeable divide between us. I live on the edge of Saint Paul, on the end of West

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Seventh Street by the airport, an area some people choose to avoid. When I reveal where I live, I often hear, Oh, where all the Somali people are? I feel compelled to say, Yes, but they dont bother anyone. In fact, the apartment complex I live in is host to numerous groups of various cultures because it is accessible and affordable. It is suitable for someone who is beginning on a path toward stability and success, whether its a twenty-something-year-old Black woman like myself, or an immigrant from Somalia or Ethiopia.
We have a tendency to look at the problems and tensions that exist in our community in a very ahistorical way and without looking at context. These views of one another, that are not depictions produced by us, taint our views of one another before we even meet in communities in the U.S. There are various views on why this separation between us is considered normal. Perhaps we could come together and seek the truth about why we hold negative attitudes about each other. I asked Ms. Tutu the following question to gain her insight on how we can begin to build community, how we can begin to break down the walls between us: What creates the cultural divide between people of African descent and African peoples living in the Twin Cities or in the United States in general? Ms. Tutu responded, We have a tendency to look at the problems and tensions that exist in our community in a very ahistorical way and without looking at context. These views of one another, that are not depictions produced by us, taint our views of one another before we even meet in communities in the U.S. We are already suspicious of one another because of the stories others have told each of us about the other, and if we are to bridge the divide seeded by these stories, we have to be intentional about talking to one another and sharing the real stories of our histories and our

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struggles. As Ms. Tutu astutely points out, institutions and the media control, produce, and perpetuate negative messages about us to the other.
We absorb these damaging representations, causing certain imagery to proliferate, like dangerous and criminal African Americans to avoid at all costs, and [Africans in] Tarzan movies, National Geographic spreads, and charity videos with starving children. To resist these manufactured images, we must take the initiative to ensure our own stories are told and our cultures are respected. In my interview with Ms. Tutu, I also wondered what similarities people of African descent and South Africans might have that could help close the gap between the groups. I was struck by the cultural similarities that existed between the African American community and our own back home, she said. The saying It takes a village was a reality where I come from. Every adult in my community felt responsible for every child in that community, and that responsibility meant that they both loved on you and disciplined you as needed. When I came to school here, I would go home with a college friend from Virginia, and what I found in that community so reminded me of Soweto, Munsieville, Kagiso, Maseru, Roma, and the other communities I had lived in in South Africa. There was the same responsibility on the part of the adults and the same level of respect from the young people. I believe part of what we all share now is the loss of that sense of community spirit and care for one another. In these words, Ms. Tutu indicates that fundamental values, such as loving and supporting our children, respecting our elders, and uplifting our community, are lost and must be recovered. Perhaps these reclaimed values could build a bridge between our groups, if only we could talk about our commonalities. In my last question, I asked her what advice she would

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Dont wait until Black History Month to study our history


give to young people to help them better understand their similarities and differences so they may strive to live in harmony. What resonates with me the most is this wisdom: Dont wait until Black History Month to study our history. We have stopped telling our stories to each other. No people have ever succeeded in moving forward without a solid grasp of their past and recognition of the sacrices that were made to get to this point. I would ask young people to form reading circles [involving] those who are recent immigrant youth from the continent and African American youth, and each month alternately read a book about the struggle and life in Africa, and then [read] one about the struggle and life in the U.S. Such a conversation among young people would be transformational under the leadership of elders from each group.
Ms. Tutu also urged youth to spend time with elders from both communities to learn the old ways, not necessarily to adopt them, but to have a clear sense of where their culture derives. Her suggestion for the reading circle could easily include this aspect if some elders would assume leadership in this arena. The young need the mentoring of elders and their stories. When I was a little girl, my mom, while patiently braiding my hair, told me stories of our African past. Unfortunately, several of my peers and many younger children dont become inspired as I did. The art of storytelling lies dormant. Its time we revive it by connecting to each other. African peoples and people of African descent must begin to listen to each other and to tell our own stories, divulging what we have had to deal with and

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what weve overcome. Then we are bound to see our common struggles and triumphs. Then we can begin to make a change in how we relate. The effects of systemic oppression, however, often keep us from interacting respectfully. So, as Ms. Tutu admonishes, We African immigrants must become aware of how we can be used as another way to oppress African Americans, and African Americans need to be aware of how suspicion of and distance from the African immigrant community only increases the opportunities for oppressive systems to stay in place. Consequently, it behooves us to disrupt the animosity that often surfaces between us.
As technology advances and information is available quickly and in abundance, there are opportunities to learn more about what we do not understand or know little about. Given such access to knowledge, ignorance is inexcusable. We must learn the truth about each others lives, cultures, and histories. Both communities leaders, elders, and youth can become involved in the Twin Cities by creating safe spaces to discuss our differences and similarities, and to share our stories. Its time to talk.

Shaunt L. Douglas is a student attending Minneapolis Writer, Poet, Spoken Word Artist Community and Technical College, an emerging poet, a writer, and a spoken word artist. She was born a California girl and got her avor in the South, by way of Georgia and Kentucky. She found herself in this frigid inland called Minnesota and decided to stay.

Article Author:

Shaunt L. Douglas

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Myself
Decades later, in July 2008, I traveled to Accra, Ghana, with other creative writing faculty and writers of the Pan African Literary Forum (PALF) to teach a creative writing seminar

My Africa,

When I was nineteen, during my sophomore year in college, I had an opportunity to travel abroad and I wanted to go to Africa. I didnt know why I felt compelled to go there. I didnt know anything about the continent; I probably thought it was a country. Yet, I yearned to be with Black people who had their own landthe Mother Land we called it, for I didnt feel at home in the U.S.oddly enough, I wasnt conscious of this feeling then. But, now as I look back, I understand the discomfort I felt, steeped in a white dominant culture, having grown up in a white suburb, having gone to white public schools, and then attending a white liberal arts college, Carleton College. It was in the mid-seventies, soon after the Civil Rights movement, the Black Power movement, the big Afros, and the beautiful dashikis. Since Carleton had no language studies exchange program in Africa, I traveled to France instead of going to an African country. Yet, I became a Black Studies major and vowed to go to the Mother Land someday.

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for two weeks. Then in 2011, I went to Dakar for two weeks to learn from Senegalese professors, writers, and artists about contemporary Senegalese literature and arts, and their relationship to my American life.
In his thought-provoking lecture about Senegalese literature, poet/scholar Dr. Hamidou Dia pointed out that slave traders took a certain young woman away from Goree Island; her American master named her Phillis Wheatley. I dont ever recall learning that Ms. Wheatley was Senegalese. He noted her poetry as the rst Senegalese/African text published in English. Speaking about literature written in a colonized voice, particularly in the French language, Dr. Dia startled me with the following assertion: As long as the writing is cut from its [indigenous] language, it will lack authenticity and truth. African literature will be fully African when it is written in its indigenous languages.

What a proclamation!
I wondered what Senegalese writers would think and say this complex notion. I RAiSED THE QUESTiON about Would they readily agree that only their native tongue renders authentic and truthful truth & authenticity an depiction of their experiences and colonial history of conquest?

about whether or not

are compromised in a Later in his lecture, Dr. Dia


colonized language. seemed to contradict his

assertion by stating, We need to incorporate both indigenous and colonized languages writers must write in the languages they feel comfortable in. I raised the question about whether or not truth and authenticity are compromised in a colonized language. Dr. Dia replied that 18
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something is lacking in the process of conveying the ideas from one language to anotherfrom memory to the word. He reiterated that yes, authenticity and truth are challenged, but the experience is still meaningful when its being conveyed as accurately as possible.
Dr. Dias bold statement lingered with me throughout the day. I wondered about the colonized/oppressed persons relationship to what Dr. Dia deemed the fragmented history. How could one have a clear sense of history that is ltered through the lens of the colonizer/oppressor? To my delight, the next day, in an uncanny fashion, writer/ activist Ayi Kwei Armah picked up the thread of the colonized peoples fragmented history that Dr. Dia had mentioned in his lecture. Mr. Armah quipped that primitive African people had to ride inside the vehicle called Western civilization. He lamented that most African intellectuals had accepted the myth of the colonizer: African humanity didnt exist before the conquest. Armah stated that over the course of his life he discovered the European lie about the primitive African. He set out to study the history of the African continent to nd the truth about African civilization. Although Armah, a Ghanaian who emigrated from Accra to Dakar, doesnt speak directly about the insidious impact of the colonizers language on the culture and identity of the Senegalese/African peoples, he does acknowledge the dire need to rebuild nation- and peoplehood through cultural production. In his lecture Major Trends in Contemporary Senegalese Arts, artist/activist Kane-Si spoke about the detrimental consequences children suffer when theyre required to learn the colonizers language and values in school. As a six-year-old child, he lost his name upon entering French school, leading to the loss of his mother tongue. His autobiographical story had a

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chilling effect on me and reminded me of Dr. Dias remark that African literature cant be fully African until its written in its indigenous languages.This brought to mind a similar process of dehumanization that occurred in the North American, South American, Central American, and Caribbean colonies, where African peoples became enslaved, losing their names and their mother tongues. Kane-Si astutely commented that losing ones mother tongue is the beginning of self-disintegration, as one becomes forced to assume the colonizers worldview about the African.
So, can the experiences and history of Senegalese people and people of African descent dispersed across the African Diaspora be authentically and truthfully rendered in the colonizers language? Kane-Si says that every word he uses is problematic because Arabic, French, and Senegalese languages and cultures are now part of his identity. He rst began to write the Wolof language in Latin characters! As a result, Kane-Si nds that no word neatly captures every nuance of meaning he would want to convey about his experience. The threads between Kane-Si and Armahs lectures intertwined thematically regarding the disruption of the African identity and the need to reintegrate. After absorbing their information, I felt tormented by the harsh reality I felt tormented by that European colonialism is the harsh reality that but an extension of African European colonialism enslavement that occurred in the Americas and in the is but an extension of Caribbean. African enslavement The last lecture I heard from Professor Modibo Diawara seared in my mind the lingering effect of colonialism and the urgent need for Pan Africanism. He spoke of a prominent lmmaker who had proclaimed recently, Im a lmmaker, not an African lmmaker. Prof. Diawara stated that young Senegalese

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lmmakers no longer feel they are prisoners of Negritude, but are citizens of the world.
This scenario reminded me of Langston Hughes confronting a fellow writer in his 1926 essay The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain. The writer declared, in effect, I am a writer, not a [Black] writer. Such is the evidence of the wounds of oppression around the world and across the ages. People who are marginalized often feel the need to remove themselves from the so-called stigma of their precious origins. Will these psychological and spiritual incisions ever heal as long as double consciousness prevails in the souls of Black folks? (W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folks, 1903) I came away from Senegal contemplating the complex impact of language and history on cultural production, not only over there but over here, in the U.S. To overcome self-disintegration based on the imposition of the colonizer/oppressors language and imagery, and the resultant fragmented history, courageous change agents use art to reintegrate [themselves] and their society, according to artist/architect Gerard Chenet. And, as Kane-Si posits, artists must conceptualize and visualize their own imagery in order to dene themselves on their own terms.

Pamela R. Fletcher, a writer, Pamela R. Fletcher an editor, and a teacher at Writer, Editor, and Teacher at St. Kates St. Kates, enjoys mentoring young and emerging writers. Traveling to Accra, Ghana, to teach and mentor youth was a dream come true! She takes pride in Kenyans telling her that she looks like a relativeshes heard this while traveling to the East and West Coasts of the United States, and when paying for parking in Minnesota.

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The Power of a

United Community,
a U n i t e d Vo i c e
When I was in high school, I enjoyed going to school because it was a warm and comfortable environment where a high percentage of us attended with our relatives. Looking back, I realize that, to some extent, Higher Ground Academy was a big family. I know that schools usually have cliques that students tend to stick to. Although my school had cliques, they were not exclusive. One day a person would choose to sit with someone, and the next day she would sit with someone else. We didnt see anything wrong with this, and no one questioned it. Like family, sometimes you just need a break from each other. We would have disagreements here and there, but they wouldnt last long because, in the end, family is family. The thing I remember most about going to school with other Somali students is everyones sense of humor. The hallways were full of laughter. Someone always told a story or a joke that would make people burst out laughing. The humor made going to school easier. At the end of the day, we went to school to get an education and then, hopefully, grow to become nancially successful and give back to our community. The late Hussein Samatar understood what it meant to give back to the community. In 2004, he founded the African Development Center, a nonprot organization that helps

We are

stronger together than we are apart.


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African immigrants build wealth and start businesses. He knew the struggle African immigrants experienced when applying for loans: some could not qualify, and others, because of their Islamic faith, would not take loans with interest. Samatar found a way to help people realize their dreams: he offered loans without interest and helped open many small businesses. Making his mark, Samatar personied hard work and dedication, and he will always be remembered for the great things he did for the Minnesota Somali community.
A strong community builds a strong voice. The Minnesota Somali community is strong and outspoken. One notion that the Somali community promotes is We are stronger together than we are apart. We all have ideas that we want to see come to life, but in order for them to occur, we need the support of

To make positive change, we must be patient.


our community. If everyone sticks together, gets on the same page, and nds a happy medium, then we can see more positive changes happen. As the old saying goes, Rome was not built in one day. To make positive change, we must be patient. Being patient not only applies to the Somali community; it goes for all communities who want to see a difference.
To honor our common African heritage and to promote solidarity between people of African descent (i.e., Black Americans) and Somali people, change is in order. Although we share an African heritage, we come from completely different cultural backgrounds and histories. We have dissimilar stories and, at times, we tend to clash with one another because of our different stories. Sometimes we clash because young people tend to be too stubborn, which

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interferes with our realizing there is a rational solution to solving disagreements. Sometimes we have conict because both groups have negative impressions and misconceptions of each others culture and actions. As a result, we tend to make assumptions rather than think logically.
Nonetheless, I do believe that both communities have the potential to get along and work together. It is just a matter of taking the proper steps toward that goal. Im not saying that Somali people and Black people have a big issue with one another. Yet, both groups tend to stay out of each others way. We could bridge the gap between us by having representatives from both communities sit down and have civil conversations about the things they want to change together. They could explore ways to make changes that would be mutually satisfying. At the end of the day, we are people with common goals and expectations. We both want opportunities to succeed, like getting a good education, obtaining good jobs, borrowing loans, and opening up businesses. Ultimately, we both want a society lled with love and peace. Together we can create a louder voice to make a difference in our communities. I think that if Samatar, also a former Minneapolis School Board member, was still around, he wouldnt like seeing the negative interaction between Black students and Somali students. I think he would have worked out a way for us as students to unite around our similarities and common goals. While in high school I worked as a community editor for the Saint Paul Almanac, which strives to unite communities through storytelling. I was motivated to do editorial work because I knew I would have the experience of a lifetime. I was right. I had the opportunity to work with a diverse group of passionate writers learning from professional writers. This group of writers included both Somali writers and Black writers, and we worked together to publish a literary journal. Since joining the Saint

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Together we can create a louder voice to make a difference in our communities.


Paul Almanac, Ive become a better writer because Ive gained knowledge about what it takes to become a good writer and how to judge good writing. Another important aspect about the Saint Paul Almanac is having the opportunity to be around good storytellers. I know that all individuals have a story, and its an indescribable feeling to be in the room while they tell it. Stories have the power to unite people.
Farha Ibrahim is a freshman in college She Farha Ibrahim enjoys writing and reading stories. She College Freshman usually prefers to be plain and down-toearth, especially when it comes to how she dresses. She is not comfortable with anything that gets too fancy. She likes to have fun with her friends and enjoys socializing. She takes pride in being dependable, loyal, and trustworthy.
Article Author:

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THE

ANCESTRAL ENERGY THAT PREVAILS IN AMERICA

I can taste the incense in the air,

and I hear the faded sounds of a soccer game in the background and the booming voices yelling at the screen. None of speakers can pronounce the th sound, and when called to do so, it comes out as a simple t. I am at a gathering, a family gathering to be precise, commonplace in the hot Minnesota summers. This is an African get-together. Youve got people coming and going and no more food because an hour after the party started, people started packing up plates and hiding them like squirrels hide nuts for winter.

Quick survey of the room: You got your middle-aged to elderly gentlemen with drinks in every hand, mostly Guinness, all speaking with their tick fresh-off-the plane accents, even if theyve been here for twenty-ve years. You have your aunties, because anyone older than you whos not a cousin, brother, sister, grandpa, or grandma is an auntie or uncle. Hiding somewhere, you have your cousins either too old or too young for you to hang with, and there you sit in the middle, observing everything thats going on, eating your rice and stew from a paper plate.

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Did I mention everybody is eating rice? Rice and stew, Im convinced, will clog your arteries one day, but what good food wont? You have your cassava leavesa staplemade with palm oil, dried sh, beef, chicken, and hot pepper over a uffy bed of rice, washed down with a can of ginger ale. This, my friend, is all you need in life. All of the stories you hear are from the elders because the kids are too busy eating or trying to be cool. You hear old men reminiscing or experienced ladies chatting; that is, when they arent bickering. The stories you hear are about growing up old men retelling their glory daysand range from scaring away bandits, being the best dancer in the village, or eeing from home because of civil war. Black-and-white pictures hang on the walls, each with stories so poignant you can see the bright colors of the clothing, as if you stood there and took the picture yourself. Pictures and stories are all I have of my family from Chicago and Tennessee, and when they come up to Minnesota, its crazy. A couple years ago, my moms cousin Deanna came up from Chicago to see a sick relative of ours. My mom parked the car two blocks from the hospital and insisted that they walk. Deanna wasnt lying when she said she might die walking up there because she almost did. Halfway to the hospital, Deanna collapsed on the sidewalk and the nurses had to carry her in. Deanna smokes, drinks, and eats fast food all the time. When my mom went to see how she was doing, Deanna said, Hey, cuz. You think you can get me some KFC? My family heritage is extensive. My mom is American, a native Minnesotan, born to an African American father and a Norwegian American mother. Like almost every African American family, we claim some native blood: Cherokee on my moms fathers side and Blackfoot on my moms mothers side.

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My father is from Sierra Leone. He came to Minnesota in the 1980s on a scholarship to study at the University of Minnesota. Thats where he and my mom met.
My mom didnt see her dad much while growing up, so she didnt get to know her dads side of the family well. Her dads parents, Grandmamma and Granddaddy, lived in the ghetto in the sky, and all I have left of them are stories. Grandmamma was from Missouri and played a big part in the local church. She was part of the big-hat lady club. My mom would love going to church and seeing the ladies with their extravagant hats. Granddaddy was from Tennessee. He used to hop trains, and rumor has it he had many wives before he married Grandmamma. He even got in trouble for being married to another woman while he was married to Grandmamma. This is my family, spicy and sustaining, like rice and stew. America. Sierra Leone. From the very start, I grew up between two cultures, never far from the coasts of West Africa, even while living in the frozen tundra of Middle America. I grew up playing football and foot-ball, hearing standard English and broken English all the time. Im not going to pretend that there

This is my family,
spicy and sustaining,

like rice and stew.


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Black History Month Edition

AMERICA. SIERRA LEONE.


Volume NO 2 Issue NO 2 February 2014

arent still some tensions among African groups here that were present in Africa, but there is something about America. If youre Igbo, Dinka, Mende, Somali, Muslim, or Christian, here, in America, youre Black. Plain and simple. There is no room for old world conicts and prejudices. And, theres no room for cultural strife between the immigrant African community and the African American community.
When I was playing soccer for my school, our rival was Higher Ground Academy, a primarily Somali school. It was one of the last games of the season, and we were losing. Because the opposing team was speaking in Somali, some of my players got agitated. Soon there were fouls left and right, and yellow cards drawn. I knew Ade, one of the players of Higher Ground, and we agreed to talk to our players about being respectful athletes. After that day, when we played the last games against each other, we had more regard for one another. The following year, I saw Ade again at a community editors meeting for the Saint Paul Almanac, where we were participating in an after-school program. We got a chance to talk about that conict between our teams. As we spoke, we learned more about each other and how we are more alike than we rst thought. At the end of the day, theres more that unites us than divides us, such as an indomitable spirit, endless creativity, and the perseverance that our ancestors passed on to us. No matter where were from, were all Africans in America.

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heres more that unites us than divides us, such as an indomitable spirit, endless creativity, and the

perseverance that our ancestors passed on to us.


Article Author:

Ismail Khadar is a senior at Ismail Khadar St. Paul Preparatory School. Saint Paul Almanac Community Editor He was born to a native Minnesotan mother and a Sierra Leonean father. He has been immersed in multiple cultures his whole life. This is his second year as a Saint Paul Almanac community editor, and he is enjoying the chance to read stories from around Saint Paul.

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