Finding the right path

I’m from Chicago, the south side, where me and my family struggled to keep a steady roof over our heads. My mom worked as a nursing assistant, and my dad wasn’t living with us but helped out as much as he could.

One thing that was consistent was the violence and crime rate. My mother often woke my older sister and me in the middle of the night, and we would all crawl to the bathroom where there were no windows because there were drive-by shootings.

Doing lunch: at Patrick Henry students mix it up

It’s 12:40, yet another day at Patrick Henry High School in Minneapolis, and the bell is just ringing for lunch. We walk into the lunchroom and see groups of kids rush into two lunch lines, anxiously pushing and talking passing the time while waiting to get their food. We see the vast diversity of Minneapolis public schools, the ‘Thugs’, ‘Asians’, ‘Jocks’, and ‘Goths’, but at lunch, it looks like one big mob. We smell a combination of over-cooked food and sweat. Half an hour. That’s it. Thirty minutes to get in line, be pushed around and eat. This is our only break, our only social time.

The misperceptions and realities of high school all come to life in the lunchroom. Our school is half African American a third Asian and 13 percent white and the smaller groups are Hispanic and Native American. There are distinct tables- specific groups of friends that hang out with each other. But at least in this public school we divide more by interests than by race. And when there are fights they usually come from personal dramas- he said-she said- than ethnic tensions.

Facing and fighting the stereotype

Native American stereotypes have affected my life, negatively and positively. The most important and perhaps the most offensive stereotypes are of the “drunk Indian” and of Indians as drug users. And some people refer to us as “wagon burners.”

Growing up, I ‘ve been surrounded by the often harsh interplay between stereotype and reality. Some of my family could easily be classified as stereotypical Native Americans, being aggressive drunks.

However, that stereotype has motivated me to follow a different path. I did a little research and found that Native Americans have one of the highest incidences of chronic alcoholism.

Challenging labels, including my own

I grew up in a single-parent, Japanese-American household. I guess we were your average single mother and kid. I was always around a lot of different people – racially and politically — but it wasn’t really until I started going to school when I witnessed stereotyping.


Immigrant or native-born: We are all equal

As a Somali immigrant at a predominantly white and black school, it hasn’t always been easy for me. I have always been criticized because of my clothing, accent, manners and values. I really mind the stereotypes that people have about immigrants.

St. Paul girls learn to love their skin -- whatever its color

A bustling hallway led to a room full of framed photographs of African American girls from St. Paul whose messages declare that they are “lovin’ the skin they’re in.”

As girls in bright orange t-shirts handed out flyers, they asked passing visitors “Are you lovin’ the skin you’re in?”

See video

A Turning Point in the Drug Battle

2005 workshop students Chandler Sentell, Ma-Eyongerie Frambo and Maliza Kalema interview residents of a drug and alcohol treatment program on Minneapolis’ Northside.


Summer 2006 Workshop Articles

Fourteen students from Minnesota high schools spent two weeks in June 2006 at the ThreeSixty summer workshop at the University of St. Thomas. The result: four pages of stories published in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press.

Lack of transportation difficult for Somalis

On a hot Tuesday afternoon, Bahjo Mahamud packed her lunch and left her family’s Eden Prairie apartment to begin her daily 30-minute walk to work at the local Target store.


MAD DADS fight back in Northside

Balloons are no longer only used to show where a birthday party is being held on the North Side of Minneapolis, but are decor on memorial trees for innocent victims, including Charez Jones, the 14-year-old girl who was shot and killed June 9.

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