A Muslim couple known for advocating diversity have launched a new independent publishing company to help authors tell stories about diversity for the next generations.
“I would like to provide them a platform — for people of color to have this resource,” Abdi Mahad told SC Times.
The Diverse Voices Press was launched by husband and wife Abdi Mahad and Hudda Ibrahim after they noticed a lack of diverse literature in Minnesota and across the US.
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The publishing company has plans to publish books in Arabic, Somali, Spanish and English, and has the bilingual staff of professionals to do so.
“There’s a gap in literature,” Mahad said. “We’d like to bridge that gap.”
Mahad said he has seen others want to publish books in a different language rejected because publishers may not know the audience for that book.
“Some of the experiences they are talking about are something new to the other publishers who are not bicultural and bilingual publishers because they don’t know this kind of audience,” Mahad said. “… We are helping them share these stories with us — for the world.”
Preparing for Younger Generations
His wife, Ibrahim, said a push for more diverse stories is helping the community prepare for a younger and more diverse future.
“Our demographic is changing significantly,” she said. “… This press is not going to cover today’s need. It’s going to address the issue that we will have in the next 25 and 30-plus years in greater Minnesota.”
The publishing company isn’t the first effort by the Muslim couple to promote diversity and mutual understanding in the community.
Starting from 2017, the then engaged couple invited their friends and neighbors to dine and dialogue in their home in St. Cloud, Central Minnesota, in an event created to bridge differences in the community.
Later in 2019, Ibrahim wrote a book titled “What Color is My Hijab?” to empower young Muslim girls and normalize hijab.
The pair have also been preparing curriculum for a Somali course for native speakers to help students improve their native language.