A Closer Look at the Somalis in Minneapolis

To a lot of people from all over the world, the United States of America is a land of milk and honey and if you get a chance to live there, all of your dreams would most likely come true. For a long time, it has become considered as a nation of immigrants. That is why a lot of people, especially those but not really limited to, third world countries, work hard and even spend a lot of money in the hopes of getting a one way ticket to the US. One of these countries is the small African nation of Somalia. We have known for some time that Somalia is a troubled nation, bereft of a government so it is only natural for Somalis to try hard to get out of their beloved country and flee to safety. And a lot of them have actually found a safe sanctuary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Immigrants have been classified into four types or groups. The first group is those immigrants who are citizens of other nations who were admitted on the basis of family ties, or professional or work qualifications. The second group is the refugees, those people not in their country of their citizenship because they are afraid of political or religious persecutions if they return to their country. The third group is thus considered as non immigrants, who were granted temporary entry for a specific purpose like education, work or just for touring or vacationing reasons. Most Somalis belong to the second group. Somalia started sending immigrants to the United States in the mid- 1990s right after the US intervention.
There is a theory regarding the assimilation process for immigrants known as the “popular view” which primarily indicates that the “Americanization” of immigrants will happen or will be completed within 3 generations. The first generation immigrants are those who face the most challenging tasks because of language and communication barriers. They are the ones who have the most difficulty in assimilating. The second generation are the sons and daughters of the first immigrants and they are more successful in terms of finances than their parents because they can speak and write in English fluently and there is a possibility that they get married to someone other than their own race or ethnicity. The third generation is the grandkids of the first generation immigrants and are supposedly the completely mainstream among the three generations. However, the Somalis seem to be having challenges confirming this theory because they are dissimilar to the dominant group.

If you are an immigrant planning to live in a country that is not your own, you would always need to adapt and assimilate to their ways of life but at the same time not lose your own sense of identity. It is all about balance. Take for example the Chinese. The lot of them may live in the Chinatown districts of their states where they can freely practice Chinese traditions, speak their own language, etc., but at the same time a lot of them work in all-American offices or communities. However, the task to bring about balance should not fall solely on these Somalian immigrants alone. Their American neighbors, their community, their government should share in some tasks because they also have benefited from these Somalis in one way or another.

When it comes to communication, the Somalis first language is their native one (Somali). English probably not even in their second or third language (the second being Arabic). The first thing they need to accept is the fact that one of the things that they need to assimilate in order to live a normal and full life is the language. Again, it is all about the balance. Somalis can learn to speak English and converse with their American neighbors and colleagues at work and then they can speak their native tongue if they are at home. The thing is, if they will not learn to speak English, they would not move up in terms of their quality of living.

In terms of religion and lifestyle, the Minneapolis locals and the government should assist and also adapt to the fact that these people are of a different race and were brought up with different beliefs and traditions. Most Somalis are Muslim,so when they are at work, their employers should also give them leeway and allow them to pray the required number of times and just possibly let them do this in a separate area so as not to disrupt business operations. Again, it is all about balance.

However, sociologists have defined four main processes of assimilation. The first is called cultural assimilation by addition or substitution. The second is primary structural assimilation, which pertains to the close personal relationships of. The third is secondary structural assimilation, where immigrants are considered to have an equal status relationship in the “public” sphere, for example, dominant and subordinate groups in the work environment and the fourth, which is known as marital assimilation, which is the process of intermarriage between the dominant group and the subordinate group. The Somalis in Minneapolis can be seen going through all four processes. In terms of cultural assimilation, it is evident in their trying to learn English aside from their Somalian language. In terms of secondary structural assimilation, they form relationships in different places like in schools, social clubs and within their families as well. In terms of secondary structural assimilation, there are a lot more Somalis are working in secondary labor market jobs like driving cabs and because they cannot speak English fluently.

There is still a lot of aspects that Somalis and native born Americans need to work on for them to be able to live among one another peacefully. Americans should just affect the fact that these Somali immigrants are here to stay and the Somalis should just also accept the fact that they need to make some changes to their beliefs and traditions to be able to live peacefully in a country that has accepted them wholeheartedly.