You're a little black muslim kid born into an impoverished Mogadishu family. Maybe your dad is dead. Maybe you have no home. Your weekly experience includes awareness of roadside bombs. Your country has had no central leadership since a dictator was deposed in 1991. Warlords feud and rule little fractured fiefdoms within the country of your birth.
And then you leave all of this so that your mom, your uncles and brothers can get jobs carving turkeys at the huge Jenny-O plant run by Hormel in Barron, Wisconsin. Barron is a very small town in the northwestern woods of Wisconsin, and its ruling Fathers have managed to attract a turkey processing plant as a means of creating jobs and generating tax revenue. And now they need workers.
A typical man born and raised in Barron could be said to be white. He may like long underwear and .3030 deer rifles. He would cheer for the Packers, unless he's a pervert. Then he'd cheer for the Vikings. He doesn't see much colored skin, and when he does, he naturally reacts to it with the somewhat subtle but xenophobic training that is in his bones. That is to say, he doesn't necessarily roll out that proverbial welcome mat.
The Wisconsin State Journal ran an article August 9 about the influx of 500 Somalis into Barron in the late '90's, with another 300 on the way. The incongruity of cultures is stunning; I can only imagine the idea was dreamed up by a government committee meeting somewhere in air conditioned rooms in Washington D.C. or Madison, WI.
The two cultures, from appearances, have not immediately begun to merge. There are not mulatto Somarican babies being strolled down main street by a Bubba and his Somali wife colorfully wrapped in a shawl and chewing khat. There IS a new Somalian restaurant, Safari Cuisine, the first concrete sign of free enterprise among the small, close-knit community. I want to bet they don't serve the All American Breakfast with eggs over easy and mass-brewed coffee in the morning.
After Mogadishu, a fist fight with some pasty white kid from Barron shouldn't be much of a big deal, one would think. And police do report problems between the natives and the Somalis--fist fights; women complaining of having their buttocks pinched by Somali men (Hey, how are THEY supposed to know??). Cultural situations such as this do bring out the Redneck in some people. People remember Black Hawk Down; the fact that these are Muslims will chafe at the local imagination. There have been drug busts as the Somalis try to import the illegal-in-America, traditional stimulant khat into the town.
But like so many non-white ethnic groups that have moved into small-town America, they are hard-working and intent upon making the most of this glorious opportunity to get ahead. Compared to where they've come from, this has to seem like paradise.
The WSJ article quotes Kasi Ahmed, 43, late of the Somalian capital: "I like America. It's the land of opportunity." "And the weather....!"
Yeah. I'll bet he loves that weather.