Photo by Bridget Fertal -- Halima Abdulkadir Hassan, Abdulkadir Chirambo, and Abdulkadir Mkomwa of the United Somali Bantu of Greater Pittsburgh group.

Pittsburgh’s World Refugee Day, a thoughtful, city-wide event, worked to showcase the stories of refugees in our city. The United Somali Bantu of Greater Pittsburgh (USBGP), an organization run by and for Somali refugees, is another reservoir of lived experiences, and a positive force for Somali people living in Pittsburgh’s Northside. Looking at the event and the organization in tandem, one is allowed the story of Pittsburgh’s refugees from two different narrators. In turn, refugee’s stories, needs, and concerns are illuminated and given context.

Are you angered by the death of George Floyd? We are.

Are you concerned that property destruction and violence are driving the focus away from peaceful and just demonstrations? We are.

Are you ready for Pittsburgh to go back to normal? We are not.

Murder in broad daylight, by agents of the state, is horrific and shocking and cannot stand.

But there are many other and more subtle ways to choke life from BIPOC, all very normal in the before times, such as:

All of this normal, accepted behavior is slow motion violence:  failing to act systematically, diligently and persistently, as documented by a scathing scientific study (commissioned by City of Pittsburgh) that indicates that Pittsburgh is the worst city in America for Black People.

Yes, we ALL want to feel comfortable and good about ourselves– displaying black screen as avatars, discussing/arguing in social media echo-chambers, posting public statements that you “stand with them.” But feeling comfortable without changing a thing at the expense of BIPOC, especially our Black brothers and sisters, can no longer be an option.

Please watch this video of Van Jones about latent danger of racism and then look at yourself at the mirror. Next, ask people in your own network and circle of influence to do the same.

Back to the old normal is not acceptable.

What are you going to do to create a better now?


Will Halim
Founding Director of Storyburgh


Storyburgh is run by freelancers/part-timers who each have own individual views. The opinion expressed here is my own and does not represent that of the entire group.


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