Interview of Alana Ramadan
Interviewer: 00:02 May I have your first and last name with spelling, please?
Alana Ramadan: 00:05 Okay. My first name is Alana, A-L-A-N-A, the last name is Ramadan, R-A-M-A-D-A-N.
Interviewer: 00:15 He’s going to give you the map.
Interviewer: 00:16 Do you currently or have you ever lived near this part of North Minneapolis? If so, how long?
Alana Ramadan: 00:24 Yes, 37 years. So I live just a few blocks from where I live over on 14th Avenue by North High School. So I pretty much have lived there all my adult life. And actually my grandparents lived, like three blocks one way and one block, so I’m like, live within five blocks of where my grandparents lived and my parents grew up.
Interviewer: 00:58 I think that’s nice. That’s nice.
Alana Ramadan: 00:59 Yeah.
Interviewer: 01:00 Thinking back from when you first came to this area today, what changes have you seen? They can be positive or negative.
Alana Ramadan: 01:10 Well, I would say that the biggest change would be that people don’t take as much pride in their property, and there’s … I feel like the young people, a lot of them have kind of gone down the wrong road. I’ve seen some of my friends move out of the neighborhood because of violence or whatever. And there’s just a lot of … I mean, actually I shouldn’t say there’s a lot of shooting, but there’s enough shooting to give North Minneapolis a bad name.
Alana Ramadan: 01:49 I work in North Minneapolis, I pray here. I work with children at a school in North Minneapolis. I guess I was never scared away, but I know other people feel like people don’t care. In our neighborhood we generally had, like most of the people who lived there were home-owners. So now it’s kind of getting back, so it’s almost like it was a cycle. Because when my children grew up you could go outside and play and play with the neighbors and all that. And then it got to a point where I didn’t see very many children out. I didn’t see very many families. But I think it’s changing now that people are actually moving back to North Minneapolis.
Alana Ramadan: 02:33 As far as the schools, when my children were growing up they had, like Willard was science and technology. So they had Willard and then they had … I mean that was, it’s right over here. I can’t think of it all of a sudden. Franklin. So you had Willard, you had Franklin, and then you had North. And then they had Summatech. And so I think, you know, I’ve seen schools close, and then they open back up, and I don’t know. I just feel like the education has gone down as far as what our children are offered.
Alana Ramadan: 03:12 And then families. I think there are not as many families that are living in the area.
Interviewer: 03:23 What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in the years?
Alana Ramadan: 03:29 I think there’s a decay of … Well, I think with a lot of, well there’s always been a lot of, I don’t want to say sex, but there’s always been a lot of … I mean because when I was growing up it was like a lot of young people and they’re smoking weed where now there’s really dangerous drugs, where you could have a joint laced with something that could kill you. I think that just society, the moral fiber of society has gone down.
Alana Ramadan: 04:03 And even when I think about families, like when I was raising my children we had two parent families or whatever. And I think even with my own family, I ended up getting a divorce and I mean most of my children were grown, but I think when you’d have people … I mean the amount of money people are … even though people are making more money, it takes more money to make it. So it used to be you could work at one job, but now everybody has at least a couple jobs or a little hustle on the side or whatever, and I think the economics, and more recently I really feel like, I mean even with, I have a lot of my Somali brothers and sisters that have come from … And it used to be as a Muslim, and this is kind of funny, as a Muslim I’m like, “Oh, I’m
a Muslim,” and now, I’m a Somali. You know? It’s like, “What?” It’s like, “Wait a minute, you followed me here. I was here before you guys.”
Alana Ramadan: 04:58 And I mean I have good relationships with them, but even the children, like I work with Somali children and they’re like, “Why do you,” because as a Muslim I cover like this, but they’re like, “So why are you wearing that?” I was like, “Wait a minute, now, hold on. You just got here a little while ago,” so, I think that there’s been just a lot of different people now. Used to be pretty much Caucasian, African American. Now you have your Somali, you have Latinos, you have … I mean when you look at some of the areas you’re like, “Wow,” you know, you go to big cities you expect to see all these different …
Alana Ramadan: 05:34 But I think with the influx of a lot of different cultures, and even with the violence now, you have Hmong people having violence, you know, it’s not just African Americans anymore. I mean you got violence … And even the relationships between police officers and the community, it’s really changed. I’m like, I live right by Plymouth Avenue and I mean, having people protesting in the streets about people being gunned down and it’s … So I don’t know. It’s kind of rough, you know. But I haven’t lost hope and I feel like I want to be part of the solution. I want to stick and stay. I want to be one of the people that people say, “You didn’t just cut and run when things got rough.” Because I feel like things, that we have to make things better.
Interviewer: 06:27 In the state of Minneapolis there have been a lot of troubles such as drugs, discrimination, and housing. Have any of those impacted you or your family?
Alana Ramadan: 06:39 Well, I would say drugs. Because I have had people in my family who have had issues with drugs. Discrimination, I would say that haven’t really had a lot of issues with discrimination. Now I know some people are discriminated against because they have felonies or whatever, and so the can’t find a place to live, but I personally haven’t had discrimination, because the home that I live in, I actually own that home. So I haven’t rented, I rented maybe one year in my whole life. Because otherwise I live with my father and then we bought a house. And now it’s kind of like, a lot of people have a hard time getting a house, getting a loan. So I think that it’s really difficult for a lot of people to get the financial means that they need to buy a home where it’s
cheaper than renting. I’m sure what I pay for my home is cheaper than people, when people say they pay, I’m like, “What?” Over $1000 or $1500?
Alana Ramadan: 07:44 So I think that there has to be discrimination and that’s really sad, because people need to be … If you have a home, if you’re a home-owner, you’re more likely to take care of your property because it’s yours. But if you’re renting you’re like, “Hey, I’m going to be out of here next year, or a few months,” and so I think that there is discrimination. I think that I have a really good situation, because I’ve been there for a while and I built up over time, but I think a lot of people do face discrimination.
Alana Ramadan: 08:15 You said drugs and discrimination, what was the other thing?
Interviewer: 08:18 Housing.
Alana Ramadan: 08:19 Yeah, housing. So I seen people having these wealth creation things and I was like, “Okay, I got a job I’m going to the bank,” for me it wasn’t that hard to just go to the bank and get the loan, and even now I feel like I’m one of the fortunate people. Like if I want to get a new car, like for the last six years I’ve leased cars. I go in there, I give them my … And I try to keep good credit, and that’s another thing. If you have good credit, one time I got a car and I didn’t even have a job. So my credit was better than my husband’s credit, so they’re like, “We’re going to use your credit.”
Alana Ramadan: 08:59 So most of the time I know I can just go and they’ll be like, “Oh.” And it’s almost like they’re surprised, like, “Whoa, you have really good credit.” Like, “You’re not supposed to have good …” I’m like, “Hey, I pay my bills, I take care of business.” And I take pride in that.
Interviewer: 09:17 What changes have you seen in the community that raise your level of stress for the future?
Alana Ramadan: 09:26 I would say violence, knowing that, especially for our young people that they can be shot for some foolishness. And sometimes people are shot by people they think are their friends. I mean even with the general community, you could just be minding your own business and get … It’s like, and I feel like people don’t feel safe, and I worry about that. I don’t really … I can’t really say that I worry about myself, so to speak. But I will say this, that if I see bunch of people gathered around somewhere and I hear loud talking, or even I’ve had to call the police on my neighbors, I’m like, “What are you doing? What is that sound? I have to go to work in the morning.”
Alana Ramadan: 10:17 So I would say having neighbors that are not considerate and that just have habits that are not very neighborly. Like playing loud music, I mean I might be getting up trying to pray or read the Scripture or something and I can’t even focus because my neighbor decides they’re going to play music. So I have had to call the police on people. And yeah, I just … I don’t know. One time I had my neighbor, someone was breaking into my neighbor’s house, and of course I was like, “Okay. I’ve got to call the police.”
Alana Ramadan: 10:54 And then you know they say you can be anonymous, well, no. And the police came in time to catch the person, and then I get a subpoena to say come to court and here I am and there they are, you know what I’m saying? The face is not hidden or nothing. It’s like, “What?” So that was pretty disturbing. So I think that is stressful.
Alana Ramadan: 11:13 And then just the police community relations, like now I’m really worried about the police officer that killed the Caucasian woman over at South Minneapolis, because I feel like they’re trying to make him pay for everybody else’s, you know all the other police officers that got off? Like okay, we’re going to use him. He’s going to pay for all y’all that … And then I feel bad because he Black Lives Matter people aren’t going to support him because he’s a police officer. And I actually knew him, because I saw him here one day and I said, I told him about some evidence that could help his case, he says, “Yeah, I know you, I worked with you at Target in Crystal,” because I used to work at Target in Crystal.
Alana Ramadan: 11:52 And so I think that stresses me out where people can’t get justice. And I think that that raises the level. Even when people get shot, by, not police but other people, people aren’t going to tell. I mean, I would be scared to tell, I mean I probably would but then you’re like, you have to fear for your life because you saw what happened. It’s like people don’t want to say anything. So I think that that’s stressful where you feel like you can’t get justice, you can’t really stand up for other people because then you fear for your own life.
Interviewer: 12:29 What gives you hope for the future of this community?
Alana Ramadan: 12:33 What gives me hope is I work with children every day, and I feel like we can make a difference when we teach them how to get along with each other. Because I have worked with children in elementary school. One child said, “I’ll choke him,” I’m like,”What? You’re going to choke somebody out because they stepped on …” I mean you know it’s not that serious. And I think that every single day we have opportunity to tell them and show them there’s a better way to deal with your problems and that we care about them, but we’re not going to let them disrespect us and we’re not going to let them disrespect each other and they can work it out.
Alana Ramadan: 13:13 I feel like I have hope when I know that there’s people, such as yourselves, that are trying to hear from people. I have hope when I see people saying, “We’re going to protest in the streets, we’re not going to take this anymore.” It used to be your people … I don’t remember anybody ever protesting. Not in North …People who are like watching and paying attention, people are videotaping, people are stepping up in that way.
Alana Ramadan: 13:40 Mainly, though, working with the children and knowing that we can make a difference with them if we just have a different mentality and like, you can go to college. That’s our thing, it’s like, okay, you’re going to go to college, we’re going to prepare you to go college. You’re not just going to go, we’re going to prepare you. And if you don’t want to go, you go do something else. But you need to be positive and you’re going to be around positive adults.
Alana Ramadan: 14:03 So I have hope because I’m going to be part of the solution. I’m not going to ask somebody else to step in and do it if I’m not going to do something myself, and I feel like every single day, I try to be a good example and be positive and be hopeful.
Interviewer: 14:23 When you think about the area today, what impacts do you still see from historic government policies?
Alana Ramadan: 14:34 That’s s tough one. Historic government policies.
Alana Ramadan: 14:38 Well, I do believe that there is still a lot of discrimination against people that live in North Minneapolis, and that they don’t really think that we’re worth spending money on. And even when I think now that they’re trying to, you know the city council, they’re trying to change it where everybody doesn’t have their own council person, that they’re just like, “Okay, we’re just going to have some people represent everybody,” and everybody doesn’t represent everybody.
Alana Ramadan: 15:07 And so I think that they just, they don’t want to spend money on us because they feel like we’re not worth it. And I think that that’s something that has been historic. And then just the attitude about the area. And people don’t even want to have businesses. So I don’t even know if people want to give loans or whatever, because it’s very seldom that we get businesses, new businesses that really want to invest in our community.
Interviewer: 15:42 How would you describe the relationship between the city of Minneapolis and this community over the years?
Alana Ramadan: 15:48 Over the years? I think it’s probably similar to what I just said in that the city of Minneapolis has always looked at North Minneapolis as a problem area. However, it used to be, as my parents grew up here there used to be a lot of Jewish people that lived here. And I’m sure that they treated it differently then than they do now, because I think that a lot, there’s been a lot of what they call white flight. And so a lot of people that lived in this area have left for various reasons. And so then you have a high concentration of poverty, but then people don’t want to invest because they feel like the people don’t care. So I think that’s been a historic thing, that they just were like, “Okay, that’s North Minneapolis,” like we’re not even part of everything else. We have our own thing going on here and not in a positive way.
Interviewer: 16:49 What are your expectations of the city of Minneapolis relative to this community?
Alana Ramadan: 16:54 I feel like we should have people that work in our community that respect our community, and not just come here for a job. Just like the thing that happened down at the police station. That’s just disrespectful. That’s just, I mean, how would you do … I mean even if people … Now I might start talking about a Christmas tree with Takis …
Alana Ramadan: 17:15 First of all I think the people who live here, we should keep our community clean. So they can’t … My feeling was that they went out picked that stuff off the ground and said, “See, this is what these people put down.” But I feel like that the city … First of all we should have our representation, we should have people from this community that represent us, and that are part of us. We shouldn’t have people, even when it comes to policing, we should have people that even if they don’t live here they should at least respect us. And I don’t know how you have a litmus test for do you respect these people or not. Maybe they need to have some kind of questionnaire where they’re honest, but-
Interviewer: 17:51 Maybe they get interviewed by community stakeholders-
Alana Ramadan: 17:53 Yeah, yeah. I mean, and after you talk to somebody for a little bit, you can kind of get a feeling whether they’re just saying something or they really believe it. But I think when it comes to policing, when it comes to investment in businesses … I was really saddened when I heard that CVS Pharmacy on Broadway, they said that they’re going to close up. And they might have closed up already.
Alana Ramadan: 18:16 So when you can’t hardly get businesses, and I deliberately go to Cub on Broadway because it’s convenient. I mean I just go across the street, you know, if I’m here I can go across the street, and I try to buy my groceries there and that’s a thing that I believe we should shop at the businesses in our community. Don’t take your money outside the community, because the the places that you want to go, they’re going to close up. They’re going to go out of business.
Alana Ramadan: 18:39 And that’s another thing I saw. I used to be a business owner. We had a fish market up on Broadway, and at that time they had some nail shops that were owned by African Americans but then once the Asians came and took the business … And that’s the thing, people actually stopped going to the African Americans and going to the Asians. And so I think the business investment, and they’re providing jobs and have … People have to step up, though, we can’t keep asking people to do stuff for us and not take care of what we need to take are of. So we want to start a business, first of al we have to support those businesses. We can’t just say, “Oh yeah, so-and-so opened up but nobody came there, so …”
Alana Ramadan: 19:18 I mean I know, I was a business owner. We did have customers that came regularly, but having a business is a tough thing. And you have to have people that are consistently supporting you. So I think that that’s probably one of the things is if we’re going to ask invest that means we have to take care of them. We can’t go and … I mean I’ve heard people say, “Oh, we have to close because people are stealing.” We can’t be stealing, you know what I’m saying? I mean if you need food that’s one thing but if you’re just stealing just to be stealing that’s just wrong.
Alana Ramadan: 19:49 So we have a part, we expect other people to help us, but we have to help ourselves first. We have to have good, strong community spirit and respect for each other.
Interviewer: 20:01 Last question. What part do you think you can play in creating that more hopeful future?
Alana Ramadan: 20:07 Keep speaking out. Keep sharing with other people, find people that are doing positive things and try to be as supportive. But I think really working at the school and being part of the community. I think the most important thing is I live here, you’re going to see me. I shop here, I pray here, and I work here. And even as an employee, just because I work for somebody that is African American, that don’t mean I show up half doing my job. I try to bring excellence. If I want excellence I try to bring excellence. And I try to be an example for others, and I say, “Hey, you need to step up. You’re going to working here you need to step up.” So just being the positive role model, and being present and accounted for, really. Just living here and saying, “Hey, I believe in this community.” I think that means more than anything, is that I actually stay here and not, I could go move someplace else but I stay here because I believe in it.