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View Diary: UPDATED: Outgoing Maine GOP Chair to investigate "dozens of black people that voted election day" (155 comments)

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  •  I have never understood why Somalis (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    condorcet, Vacationland

    seem to immigrate to America's coldest climates when the come here.  Minneapolis MN and Columbus OH also have huge Somali populations.  Winters there and in Maine have got to be a big surprise to them.

    •  Most don't seem to love the cold weather (0+ / 0-)

      Then again, we're not super fond of it either! Can't speak to the Somali communities in MN and OH, but when it comes to ME, many of our Somali and Sudanese families were originally settled in more ethnically diverse communities in other, warmer parts of the country, but did not find it a good fit.

      For one, in many of the original settlement areas in the South, the local African-American community was overwhelmingly Evangelical Christian, and community supports tend to be very church-based, which posed a problem for the mostly devout Muslim Somalis. "African" and "African American" don't automatically overlap culturally. Maine is comparatively secular and pretty laissez-faire when it comes to religion, and what is church-based is Catholic, which is more familiar to them. Also, there were much higher rates of crime and violence in the original settlement areas (e.g. Atlanta metro area), compared with Maine (which has an extremely low crime rate).

      The pattern of immigration in this group is driven by word-of-mouth and informally governed by elders in the community. The initial settlers here put out feelers to other community leaders, indicating that this was a "safe" place to raise a family, and that kids would not be exposed to as many "undesirable" influences (drugs, casual gun violence & similar crime, skimpy fashions, evangelical proselytizing). There are no really large cities; we top out at less than 70K per metro area, which feels more "normal" to formerly rural Somalis. The schools here are decent (if not spectacular) and pretty safe, and most of the urban schools are equipped to handle new English learners. We have comparatively low substance-use rates among youth. There are occasional difficulties (ignorant politicians, resentful xenophobes, blizzards) but apparently the good outweighs the difficult.

      Maine has also taken steps to provide culturally sensitive services, including modest hospital gowns and medical and social services that assume trauma exposure and/or PTSD in a high percentage of the population (many of whom have lived in resettlement camps and lost family to war or genocide). Also, it's much easier these days to find a halal market if you have a hankering for camel and goat meat! :-)

      "When did it fall apart? Sometime in the '80s / When the great and the good gave way to the greedy and the mean." - Billy Bragg

      by Vacationland on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 12:07:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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