Humans of Minneapolis: Malika, Bottineau Park

September 12, 2016 by Chee Xiong

In 2016, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation teamed up with Humans of Minneapolis street documentarian Stephanie Glaros to produce a series of 15 portraits of visitors to Minneapolis neighborhood parks.

Here, we’re re-posting Stephanie’s series of portraits of parks visitors from her Humans of Minneapolis blog. Look for all portraits in the series on this blog – 2016 and, coming soon, 2017 – by clicking on the Humans of Minneapolis category.

Malika, left, with her stepmother Samiya, at Bottineau Park

“We usually go to another park in Northeast, but all the tables were taken. It’s my son’s seventh birthday and he wanted to play with his friends and be outdoors. So we invited a bunch of kids and a few families. It’s a birthday party / play date.

We’re new here. We’re from Canada, but Somalia before that. I was born in Somalia and all my siblings were born in Canada. I got married and moved to Memphis for ten years right after college. My family was still in Canada. Then we all came to Minneapolis to be closer together. It’s been about a year.

I love Minneapolis. I like that there’s a huge outdoor life despite the weather. I like that there are parks in close proximity to anywhere you are. And I like that there’s a huge Somali community. You’re not just out there by yourself. It reminds me of home. I can go to the Somali mall and there are familiar scents and smells. There are people in stalls and they’re yelling and bartering. Before that, the only home cooking I was getting was from my stepmom, but now I can go out and there are a huge number of restaurants I can pick from. Or I can go to a coffee shop and there are other Somalis to talk politics and religion with. You just relate to each other. Do you know what I mean? People that know where you’re coming from and understand you’re situation without you always having to explain.

Here you’re not an anomaly; you’re not a curiosity. People aren’t approaching you from that sense. You’re family, you’re familiar. You’re safe. As a Muslim woman, as a black woman, and as a Somali woman, there are all these intersections. But here I feel like all those intersections are accepted in my community. I can be myself. I feel welcome.

People see all these Somali women just walking around. For me, I see all their strength and beauty. My stepmom is a pinnacle of strength and she kept our family together. I see all these beautiful women and I think of her and that’s what I emulate. And I’m glad I’m in a community where I can show my daughter what it’s like where I come from and share our stories. And there are beautiful role models right there for her.”

Listen to Malika’s story:

Images and content are reposted with permission from Stephanie Glaros/Humans of Minneapolis.

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