This is what the War on Terror really comes down to, a war on our community.
This is what the War on Terror really comes down to, a war on our community. Charles Mudede

As Ijeoma Oluo eloquently pointed out in the post "Local Politicians Seem Slow to Respond to Remittance Crisis," Somali Americans are at wits' end as to how to send money to loved ones in their home country after Merchant Bank of California decided to end its services in that very poor and vulnerable East African country. The reason for the bank's decision, made on February 5, was unremitting pressure from a government that's continuing Bush's politically motivated and misguided War on Terror, which has often amounted to nothing more than a war on poor people and tiny black African businesses. None of the men who brought down the Twin Towers were from Somalia. Many were from Saudi Arabia. And you may have to wait for the end of the world before you even hear a peep from the US government about American banks doing business with that questionable (but oil-rich) country. As for Seattle, it seems much of its white population can only feel something powerful when it's reported that African-sounding people are stealing their iPhones.

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But a visit I made yesterday to the Shiil Grocery and Halal Meats, a Columbia City business that used to transfer money to Somalia through the Merchant Bank of California, revealed a face racked with panic. This shit is real. That face belonged to the owner of the business, Muhammad. The money (sometimes $100, sometimes $50) he sends to his mother and brother is pretty much all that keeps them going. And he is not alone in this situation. Talk to any Somali about this matter (as I did last night around town) and they will tell you the same thing—the amount they send: $100 or $50; the people they send it to: parents, siblings, children.

"It is the worst thing that could ever happen," Muhammad said as he sat behind the counter. "There is no other way I can help my family. People in our community, and not just the Somalis, but other Africans and Asians, who like us send money home, have to realize that this is a serious problem. It is not about terrorism or al-Shabab. This is money for food, medicine, and clean water." Muhammad's plea will probably meet the snores of a city that only becomes alert when it hears talk about getting tough on all of this crime going on all of the time on our streets and our property.

But if you are inclined to help, check out the recommendations in this post.