How 7 Young Artists Of The Somali Diaspora Are Shaping Culture Today

America. As an immigrant from Somalia, a prideful but troubled nation located on the Horn of Africa, my family fled to escape war. We arrived in the States as 1997 was drawing to a close; at 4 years old, I was oblivious to the change of scenery that would soon become my home. I remember thinking, “I’ve never seen this many white people in my life.” I’d surely never seen snow before.

As a preschooler, I was young enough to be able to gradually absorb my new home’s cultural nuances: small things, like styles of clothing and what daily conversation consisted of, and also bigger things, like what people aspired to be when they were older. My parents, however, had a harder time. At home, this meant my mind would feed on the culture instilled in me from my folks: sharp values and morals like respecting your elders, not wasting time, and working for your future, now. But away from their gaze, TV and the rising presence of the internet exposed me to shows, film, and music — a world all its own. I’d scramble home from school to watch Toonami, and would stay up late for Monday Night RAW and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. MTV Jams and 106 & Park shaped my taste in music. As I grew, I learned that this duality was part of my identity. It was a weird, polarizing feeling of being a part of two broad cultures, sometimes not feeling wholly part of either, but also a feeling of being able to see things from two different cultural perspectives.

Read More: The Fader

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