"I'm Somali and I am Muslim. I am also first generation. Growing up Muslim, my parents were really strict and I couldn't do certain things because of my dad or my mom. But, the more we’ve been in society, around American society, the more open my mom, not really my dad, has gotten. Especially open to how I feel about religion. I don't wear a hijab because my mom is okay with that. Although I still choose not to assimilate. I do wish there were more diverse African clubs or something where we can express our culture. I am the only Somali in my graduating class and I wish there were other people who I can talk to and relate to my culture. Sadly, that isn't an option, but I will not let that stop me from being who I am.
Freshman year I felt alone. Everyone was very secluded through racial groups, but the more I’ve attended this school, the more I've kinda looked around. I can see inclusion and diversity. I can see people unifying, and people coming together as one. I think students of color at Grandview are becoming stronger and stronger. There is more opportunities for people to open their voice and express how they feel, though I’ll admit that sometimes, with some of the deans here, I feel racially profiled. It feels harder to get away with anything, but it does force me to be more respectful and careful. I don't have a choice. I have to work really hard. Have to respect what I'm given. If I want to grow up and leave, I have to. I'm trying real hard.
In some classes, I'm one of the only black students there. I would love to see more diversity especially in AP and honors and for students of color here to pursue their passions. Personally,y for me, I want to become a model, rapper, film actress or work in the auto industry. Looking at society there isn't a lot of black models in general and there's not a lot of auto mechanics who are female, let alone Muslim. I would either receive backlash from doing what I want with my body or doing “male activities and jobs” instead of becoming a housewife like a lot of other Somali woman. But growing up American, I've realized that there’s more to life than that, and I’m not going to let [that backlash] stop me from becoming who I am.
[Advice to freshman and peers]: Honestly, I hope one day there is change with diversity but currently we have to make do with what we have. Don't bring backlash on Grandview because of the demographics, because it’s not really going to have a drastic change anytime soon. Instead of complaining about Grandview’s problems, try fixing it, try unifying it. It all starts at school. School should feel and become a safe haven for everyone and no one should be racially profiled. I hope one day, we can all be educated morally by including all people of color and share stories and be able to hear everyone's voice. Whether its discussions in clubs or even in English or history classes I honestly want all students to come in and feel welcome, and to feel unified. Because at the end of the day we are all Wolves."
Interview and photo by Jori O'Grady