Adventures in social mobility

British Islam Conference

Presenter: Hashi Mohamed

The topic of social mobility is a vexing question in British society.

Hashi was born in Kenya to Somali parents. The eighth child in a family of twelve. His father died when he was very young arriving as an unaccompanied child refugee at the age of 9. He grew up in a disadvantaged community with under achieving schools and the challenges associated with social and economic deprivation.

He was very lucky to have studied at Oxford under a full scholarship and then went onto become a barrister. The past 24 years have involved moving between very different worlds and the challenge of reconciling them and finding a place that is comfortable remains a challenge. Here are some thoughts on this topic:

He refers to Afua Hirch’s book where she writes about difference in generations; one that came here with nothing and works really hard for the future of his children and the struggles of the following generations in regards to identity. The first generations struggle was to survive and this generations luxury of understanding who they really are. But it is a real struggle and one doesn’t diminish the other.

Hashi has experienced both. Arriving as an impoverished child and now grappling with identity. Then there is the question of multiple identities. As a Muslim you are likely to be in multiple categories. Muslim + ethnic minority + woman and the associated challenges this brings. Add to this are the British aspects of Class, what type of education you had, your accent and the mindset you carry.

We need to adjust our own expectations as to what can be achieved by members of our own community. You need to be confident in your own skin.

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