Ramblings & Reviews

My Somali Neighbors Are Not the Enemy

Note: Written in the fall of 2016, before the Trump Presidency.

Donald Trump has come to Minnesota twice during this election cycle and he invariably stirs up racial tensions here with his anti-Muslim rhetoric. It reminds me of the responses I got to a Sally Forth strip I drew earlier in the year.

I draw what’s familiar to me and the area I live in is home to a large number of Somali Americans. They have been here for generations and are our neighbors, so I tend to include Somali kids in the comic strip.


Most of the comments I get are favorable, such as…

Or the following excerpt…
(Note: I’m leaving out names for the following emails because they were not on social media and not expected to be shared.)

Hi Jim,
Wanted to comment on the Feb 22 Sally Forth strip (as an aside, I read Sally Forth every day and really love it, especially the dad), I noticed in the first panel, lower left hand, there is a girl wearing a hijab or head scarf. I am assuming the implication is this is a Muslim girl. I don’t want to presume to speak for you but from my perspective this is brilliant. By subtly doing this you are taking a big step toward making the hijab ubiquitous which in turn will make the hijab simply an everyday sight and, hopefully, in time, will diminish the amount of anti-Muslim hatred that is currently flowing around our country.

But I also get responses like the following.

Muslim student, in reference, panel one dated 2/22/16.
Do you have any idea how destructive this pseudo religion is?
I can answer this, you don’t.
Enjoyment, respect that I had has diminished.

A link to an article from the conservative website Breitbart followed, I assume, to further educate me.

Speaking of education…
Not long ago I went to see Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai speak at the Target Center here in Minneapolis. She survived a bullet to the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 (for being an advocate for a girls’ right to go to school), and her message is that the key in fighting global terrorism is education.


In regards to Donald Trump and his ‘ideology of hatred’, Malala’s words are straight and to the point.

“The more you speak about Islam and against all Muslims, the more terrorists we create…”

“So it’s important that whatever politicians say, whatever the media say, they should be really, really careful about it. If your intention is to stop terrorism, do not try to blame the whole population of Muslims for it because it cannot stop terrorism. It will radicalize more terrorists.”

So in regards to the cartoons I draw…
That a little Somali American girl in a classroom is seen as the ENEMY is the danger of Donald Trump’s rhetoric – and the danger of a Donald Trump presidency.

-Jim Keefe

By Jim Keefe

Jim Keefe is the current artist of the Sally Forth comic strip. From 1996-2003 he was the writer and artist of the Flash Gordon comic strip. A graduate of the Joe Kubert School, Keefe likewise teaches Comic Art. Teaching and speaking engagements include SVA in Manhattan, Hofstra’s UCCE Youth Programs, and most recently the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.