Salma Abdalla


How society plays a role in the way Black women express vulnerability 


As a Black Muslim woman I have faced many difficulties due to things that were out of my control. These include health disparities, inheriting trauma from war, and living in America. The constant feeling of helplessness depleted my self-confidence and made me afraid to express who I was, all of which has manifested itself in many different ways.

I knew what I wanted to write about as soon as Professor Kim mentioned our enterprise story. I knew it would be different from what my classmates would be writing about. Because of the Black women around me, I was motivated to write about how society plays a role in our lives. At such an early age, we were taught not to show our weaknesses. There would be days when I was so overwhelmed that it showed physically, yet I would still go above and above for whoever came my way. Living in Utah didn’t help. Each day was a different experience. People were staring, pretending to speak broken English and being shocked when I responded in fluent English.

Once I knew the topic of my story, I knew it would be difficult to find a therapist because not many of them are experienced about what Black girls go through, which took a long time. Among the 10 therapists I emailed, only one responded. I found her on Instagram and contacted her privately. However, the conversation went smoothly and she thanked me for writing about this story as it is something society rarely acknowledges.

Fathi Kofiro and Sabrina Abdalla were excellent sources because they both know what it’s like and have experienced it themselves. They are on the other side of it, where they have to learn and unlearn and practice speaking up when something isn’t all right. My goal is to have every other Black girl be comfortable enough to speak up and out. I share my story to encourage others to practice being humble and kind to others. One can never be sure of what another person is going through. Being kind will open many doors in life. 


My name is Salma Abdalla I am a second-year University of Utah student. With a minor in Cognitive Science, I intend to major in Communication with an emphasis in Journalism. I am a first-generation African-American student.

My parents were born in Barawa, Somalia, and I was born in Salt Lake City. Somalia was engulfed in civil war in 1991, which has tragically continued to this day. In this turmoil of brutality, many families were killed or separated. My parents made the ultimate choice to flee the country to make sure we grew up in a safe environment. Living every day in Somalia was unpredictable; even waking up in the morning was a miracle. 

Being the youngest in the family with not just asthma but eczema, I had a lot of attention that wasn’t conducive to flourishing into a confident person. There were numerous times where I would have an asthma attack and all my mom knew how to do was pray because of her past traumatic experiences. As I have gotten older, I have come to realize that our circumstances do not define us nor are they a reflection of our abilities. Experiences are what make you who you are today. Growing up as a sick child I would be hospitalized 10 times a year. These extended hospital stays affected me physically, emotionally and academically. I have had to work twice as much as my peers. Whereas they tend to understand things as soon as they learn a concept, it often takes me longer. 

Witnessing their struggles has motivated me to always strive for the best. It has shown me that opportunities should never be taken for granted. Keeping this in mind, I made a vow to myself that I was going to take advantage of the opportunities that are provided to me. My heart melts and trembles every time I come across a person in difficulty, because I instantly remember the struggles my family and I have overcome. I want to continue helping people throughout my life and I have done that by joining organizations and leading community projects. I want to build strong foundations for people who need and deserve care. The fulfillment I get when helping people shows me the beauty of life.

Reflecting back on all the obstacles my family have been through, I am blessed to be where I am today. The struggles my parents faced reflects on the outcome of my abilities of being adaptable, erudite and always reaching for my goal. The happiness I get from accomplishing my goals is what pushes me to create bigger, daring goals. Goals of pursuing a career in journalism and social work. A quote that always keeps me motivated is, “if you can dream it, you can achieve it.” I believe I can achieve my goals of helping people and making a change. From then on, my boundaries are limitless and time will certainly tell.