Growing up as a Afro-Somali Muslimah

By Hodon Yassin

Hello, My name is Hodan Yassin. I’m eighteen years old and it’s my senior year. I’m also a student at Whetstone High School. Sadly, because of quarantine, I had to spend the last months of my senior year cooped up inside my house doing online school. However, It doesn’t stop me from continuing on with my artwork or excelling well in my classes.

I was born in Decatur Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia on April 16, 2002. I was also born to my mother and father, Safiya Farrah and Hassan Mohammed. After I was born, all of my family members came to see me. All my grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles and cousins congratulated my mother and were all so very happy. We even stayed at the hospital overnight because my mother was too sick after giving birth to me. After she got well, we went back home.

Life growing up in Atlanta was alright. I don’t remember that much about it since I was a baby. All I remember is my parents had a conversation in the kitchen. My father was laid off at work and could no longer afford to live in Atlanta. My mother was devastated to hear the news. Thus, we had to move out so my father could get a better job.

We moved to a really small apartment in Columbus, Ohio in February of 2003. My grandmother came to live with us to keep us company. We lived in that apartment for a couple of months. After that, We went to live in this apartment in this neighborhood called The Heritage. It was a really nice neighborhood. I had fond memories living there, like when my sister was born and when my father brought pizza home every friday night.

Growing up, My parents have raised me to be a good muslimah (a female muslim). They taught me the Quran, took me to dugsi (a school that teaches the Quran) and taught me the Salah (the Isalmic prayer). They also taught me to be a kind and respectful human being and accept those who are different from me. I often use the Quran and Salah as coping mechanisms whenever I’m upset. I still continued on with both to this day.

It wasn’t until I was five when my mother announced that we were going to Somalia for vacation. There, I had a really good time. I played with animals, participated in dance festivals, spent time with my relatives, etc. Not only did I have a great time, but I also saw people just like me. Many people outside from my family had the same facial features (dark skin, black hair, brown eyes) and spoke fluent Somali. I spoke a lot of Somali back as a child, so seeing others speaking my second language boosted up my self esteem. It was so amazing to live in Somalia, and it was just the fact I didn’t feel like an outsider, I’m just like everyone else; a human being.

After our vacation was over, we moved back to Columbus, OH. There, my parents applied for me to attend school. I was assigned to a special education class from kindergarten to tenth grade. It was because I had autism and my parents wanted me to get extra help from my teachers. I had a pretty good relationship with most of my classmates. Many of them had very severe disabilities, ranging from non-verbal autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, etc. I helped them out with their work and calmed them down whenever they were upset. It was an alright class.

After I was pulled out of the special education class sophomore year, my life totally changed. I made many new friends, my grades improved, etc. Many of my friends were different in so many ways, ranging from race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, ability, etc. It was really good that they were different in so many ways. No matter who they are, they are still human beings.

In conclusion, I accept myself for who I am. I am a Afro-Somali Muslimah who has autism an am a proud asexual. I accept people despite their differences and each and every person is unique. I just wish there was more empathy and respect for those who were different. In conclusion, I love myself for who I am.

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