By Princene Boyd
I love the people of Somaliland and Somalia and I’m against the travel ban upheld by the Supreme Court. Why? Because I got to meet and know some awesome brothers from Somalia in a college environment who were activists and was changing policy and opening great dialog on human rights. I returned back to college after I had been a divorced Mother of 3 children, to earn my college degree, after being out of college for 14 years. I had a campus job at the student-ran newspaper as Business Manager, and hired many students to write there. After all positions had been filled a particular white student approached me for a job there. I wasn’t sure that he really fit in but he practically begged me for a writing job, so I hired him. He was very happy, and most times very cordial toward me. I later had some influence with articles written concerning black or African issues, because the majority of students and faculty were white.
One day an article came out about a very intelligent and popular teacher from Somalia. He was written up in a very negative light because, in my view, of a lack of understanding of just how much he contributed to the civil rights issues which took place at the college and the black community. I was speaking up in support for him, if I recall correctly to the newspaper advisor, yet the newspaper policy was that students have to investigate more deeply to get the stories correct yet that story stood as they were just students trying to learn how to become journalists. The student I hired, not understanding much about the black experience came to me about writing on black issues, after discussing it with him further, a story he wanted to turn in I killed the story, and he became very angry with me. I wasn’t aware at that time that he was either a member of a white supremacist group on campus or was to embark on it. What I observed shortly after that was that he began to wear Nazi influenced clothes and he looked at me differently, eyes seemed full of hatred.
One afternoon I was leaving campus and opted to walk down 3_flights of stairs alone instead of waiting for the elevator. As I was walking down the stairs, the student who I hired who was angry at me was walking up the stairs, and when he saw me he became very agitated. No one else was around us. I was going to ignore him and kept walking down yet I admit I was scared. He blocked me! I said something like, get out of my way! He stood there staring at me for seconds, which to me seemed like forever. He said something to me but eventually got out of my way. As I continued down the stairs he turned around and began to follow me! I quickly got outside and he was right behind me! Thank Jesus, I saw my Somalian friends sitting nearby with friends, and I ran over to Najib Ahmed Shunufand Abdirahman Ahmed Shunuf, telling them how the guy over there, pointing to him then, was acting like he wanted to hurt me or something, I just recalled how he was saying things to me like what would I do if he decided to push me, or something even worse than that? After pointing to him my friend told me they have my back, and they started staring at him with such contempt and saying things that the student obviously got scared, turned around and walked off. I hung out with them until I felt safe enough to go home. That white supremacist student never bothered me again, thanks to my Somalian hook-up.
If this unfortunate travel ban was in effect back then, and my Somalian friends which I call my brothers were not there, my story might have been different with a series of frightening threats of harassment! I pray today that the good that these brothers did, not only for me but for the civil rights movements they participated in, will be recognised and people begin to lobby today that Somalia is taken off the travel ban list. My brothers are Muslim who helped me, a Christian, to escape the bad will of a white supremacist. The good Samaritan in the Bible didn’t ask what religion but in essence, what can I do to help, and went into action…We can start here.