A few weeks ago, I walked into my house and my sister and mother were watching this youtube channel titled ‘Integration TV’. My sister explained that the host, a Somali woman was leading a discussion surrounding the controversial topic of tribalism. I stayed to watch for a while, since I thought the idea of using YouTube as a platform to discuss various topics surrounding our diaspora extremely ingenious. I did further research about this channel and its creator, Hodan Naleyah. I was immediately impressed by Hodan Naleyah, and her accomplishments. I decided to tune in to her channel and find out more.
The channel which claims to “serves to bridge the gap for the Somali Diaspora as they grow and integrate into different societies”. It is a weekly talk-show led by Hodan and a few guests. As I continued to watch Hodan’s channel, which is accessible on local cable channel along with YouTube – I could not help, but be disappointed. I found the channel to be extremely problematic for the community as well as the potential affect it could have on the overall Somali Diaspora.
The show jumps from important topics such as tribalism, lack of somali role models to oddly placed topics such as ‘marriage proposals on Facebook?’ and ‘How many Somali models are on Instagram’. Now, my question to the founder and creator is how exactly does her channel help to grow the Somali diaspora? She has opened up a phenomenal platform that could potentially help educate and provide a voice to the Somali Diaspora living within Canada, and yet the channel/show poses a grave danger instead.
Within the recent years, Somalis living in Canada have been dealing with issue of assimilation, gang-violence, police raids, as well as the affiliations to Al-Shabaab and ISIS just to name a few. As a community, we have been dealing with poverty, racism and lack of youth engagement. I watched my community struggle with more than 50 unresolved slayings of Canada’s Somali Canadian youths within the country. While the Somali youth deal with systematic discrimination, Hodan’s channel/show chooses to focus on the triviality in the name of progression for Somalis living in Canada.
More recently, the Somali-Canadians have dealt with further stigmatization due to particular incidences such as the raids of known Somali neighbourhood of Dixon led by the Toronto Police, in hopes to eradicate the Dixon City Bloods, a gang which police say resorted to violence and murder in order to traffic drugs within Canada.
This particular raid further perpetuated any existing negative connotations associated to the Somali identity while leaving many voiceless. I watched women of all ages, who very well could be distant relatives complain on the evening news about the excessive force used by the Toronto Police, and yet Hodan’s channel/show chose to discuss politics of Somali Models and Social Media hook-ups in exchange.
Social responsibility should not only fall on the very few Somali based organizations such as Gashanti Unity, that are attempting to uplift the community and the youths within it – if this particular channel/show aims to create change within our community then Hodan and ‘Integration TV’ has misappropriated their platform by using it to discuss topics that are not only unimportant but irrelevant to our community needs.
I write this article to push some accountability for the discussions promoted on a platform that claims to have conversation to empower my community. It is extremely distressing to know that an outlet such as ‘Integration TV’ has managed to use their innovative platform to silence the Somali Canadians more than help.
I ask Hodan, and ‘Integration TV’ if it is not your channel/show then who is going to give a voice to the 96-year-old mother, Faduma Hersi, who fell out of bed during the Dixon Raid on June 13th and spent the two days in the hospital because of it?
Who is giving a voice to the mothers and grandmothers of our community who were handcuffed in rubber cuffs due to choices of the males and some females in our community that decided to partake in illegal activity? We need change in our community. We need to begin promoting discourses surrounding topics such as poverty, gang-violence and identity problems we are all struggling within our lives.
The Somali-Community is struggling and there is no secret to that, however there is a problematic perspective our community has developed within Canada, so stay true to your channel’s claims to tell stories that enhance and change somali lives. In my eyes, I find your mission statement misleading and extremely problematic because you are neither inspiring nor connecting with the diaspora. I applaud your initiative, however I feel like you could use your platform to make real change by giving our community a voice.
Here is the link to Hodan Naleyah’s website to access all her videos: