The X Fact(her): What the Hood Could Learn from the Somali Pirates

AllHipHop Staff

Once again American forces have saved the day, popping up in the Indian Ocean to body the four Somali pirates that held U.S. cargo ship captain Richard Phillips captive for five days. Now all the European countries that had been punked by the water thugs for the last couple years are rallying on the heels of America to punish the pirates.

No doubt, more blood will be shed and the already frail country of Somalia—a country that hasn’t had a solid government since 1991, no economy and watches helplessly as mafia ran shipping companies dump toxic waste on it’s shores—will be further devastated by those who want to punish it instead of help it.

The pirates villianized by the media are no more than fisherman, who made a living by selling fish and seafood caught off the shore of Somalia in an area dubbed the Horn of Africa.

Left to their own devices they banded together and created a network that manned the shores and waters. Frustrated by the dumping and the damage to their livelihoods they began to tax and hold for ransom boats that entered their territory.

Their mentality: “You not just gonna up in my hood and f**k my land up. You got to pay!”

Does this sound familiar?

If you live in any hood across America, you have witnessed something similar. Impoverished neighborhoods treated as dumping grounds and its people as pawns. Children attend schools with no windows and cracked roofs, no supermarkets or chain stores will build and the underdeveloped lands, mass transit is sketchy, business are forced to close, homeowners are beat over the head with inflated mortgages.

Yet, on this side of the pond, what is the hood doing to change the situation?

Where is the grassroots mobilization, the community within the community that says, “we understand you don’t respect us but we respect ourselves enough to keep what money we have in this community, to create jobs, teach ourselves, etc…”

The Black Panthers did it and were quite successful…for a brief period of time.

Ask young black or brown kids living in the hood what’s the problem and their response:

“We killing each other.”

“We hungry, tryna eat.”

“It’s hard in these streets.”

Americans have no idea want hunger and poverty is.

Life in Somalia: Personal stories

Eight residents of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, tell us what the new government's priorities should be and how they have survived 13 years of anarchy.

Mahamut:Scrap metal worker

"I smash the foundations of the US embassy wall to get steel rods to sell"


"I am too busy looking for food to think about the peace process"


"I see a dark future for my children. There are no schools or health services"

Gangs here fight with each other over turf, small time drug trade and egos. Nothing is done to better the community. There is no structure or hierarchy or goal outside of selfish ones. This isn’t to say that the people of Somalia aren’t the victims of gangs who are taking advantage of the country’s weak state.

Let’s not even call them pirates anymore…the community activists of Somalia saw their people dying and their land being raped and did something about it.

They are really starving.

They are really trying to eat.

They are really fighting the man.

Can you say the same for the goons who claim to run your hood?

- CHK'Naan on Somali Pirates -There is a reason why this started

Chloé A. Hilliard is a culture/entertainment journalist that has written for the Village Voice, Essence, Vibe, King and The Source. In addition to writing The X Fact(her), a weekly column for, she co-hosts I’m Sayin’ Radio, a weekly talk show. For more, visit