Second Generation Bangladeshi

It was a small but an important event. There were only 30-35 people – some second generation Bangladeshi young, some first generation adults, some men, some women – all living in New York City. They get together to remember a boy who was not known to them even few weeks ago. The boy, 13-year-oldĀ  Samiul Alam Rajon, was killed brutally by a group of men in Bangladesh on July 8, 2015.

These second generation of Bangladeshis – some are as young as Rajon, met in Brooklyn to hold a vigil, demanded justice and asked to stop nonsensical death of so many innocent kids in Bangladesh and across the world.

They said what others have already said. But what was new is their presence as a second generation Bangladeshi community. They poised as a voice of the community. They did not make huge banner, bought newspaper and TV ad but the effort itself was a good and right step toward.

Violence in Bangladesh is common. As mythical as it may sound, as a tolerant country, Bangladesh also condone tremendous amount of violence. Mixed with despair and disability, fate and faith, history and heritage, police and politics, life of Bangladeshi people just go on with varieties of violence. On the other hand, people routinely protest of violence, demand justice, government make task force, sometimes take action, few are punished but most of them are forgotten from the public mind as this routine never changes.

The first generation Bangladeshi immigrants abroad know all these too well. For them Rajon’s are killed, protests are done, promises are made, steps are taken – right or wrong. Time passes by and life goes on. The secondĀ  generation Bangladeshis, some know about this trend, most not. Some can make sense, most not. Some understand, most not. But none wants to be part of their prior generation’s mundane cyclical state of mind that goes on and on and on like an endless bad dream.

Not bad but as part of a bold dream, they organized a ‘Vigil for Rajon’ in Brooklyn.

Again, what they did was more important than what they said. They created an event on Facebook, invited others, communicated with their peers, asked non-Bangladeshi friends to join in and brought few first generation Bangladeshis who care. Not much was said, indeed. Everyone decently took their turn to say something – short, sharp and to the point – a rarity among Bangladeshi society.

They circled the Church-McDonald Avenue crossing – where many of the Bangladeshis meet, mingle, gossip, chitchat, live and work in Brooklyn – with vigil and slogan. It was not just to say that they gathered only for Rajon’s in Bangladesh – indeed, they were there to tell that they care for the community they belong to and the country their parents came from. That they want to act with resilience and responsibility.

This second generation Bangladeshi initiative seemed like kind of isolated as there was less enthusiasm among the local Bangladeshi people. They reacted with cautious curiosity, passed by as evasive onlookers. From a nearby mosque, more Bangladeshis Muslims came out after prayer – none stopped by to ask about the event or to attend the Vigil for Rajon!

In a sense, outside of Bangladesh, first and second generation Bangladeshis have a cultural gap. They are connected but understand each other less. How come when Rajon’s are dying in Bangladesh, first generation Bangladeshis gave wordy statements, but none came out to support this event of young Bangladeshis! On the contrary, any establishment coming from Bangladesh got kind of ‘mini-humongous’ reception at airports, hotels, houses, restaurants, streets and even in picnics. Seems like for the first generation, the first event has little clear goal, the second events have specific ‘aim’.

Again, it is what it is. Child violence happen, people protest, leaders give statements, committees are formed, investigations are ordered, recommendations are submitted, and outcome remains obscure! Violence happens, people protest, leaders…the cycle goes on and on until it [does not end]. This is what most Bangladeshis living abroad saw and take it for granted. These are part of the payment for being a Bangladeshi. For the first generation of Bangladeshis abroad, it is still that reality here.

They can show that a better alternative is possible.
What the second generation Bangladeshis can do? Nothing much or very little, perhaps. They can show that a better alternative is possible. Less talk, more work; less division, more unity; less shout, more think, less newspaper, more book; less drama, more diversity; less popularity, more responsibility. To do this little, second generation of Bangladeshis do not need any confrontation or even conversation with the prior generation. Remember Nike?

Bangladesh will not get back Rajon and many others, but if the sad demise of Rajon can give birth some spark among the new generation of Bangladeshis to be deeply dedicated, highly motivated and create a new breed of Bangladeshis in distant lands, then the nation might not have to ask for endless forgiveness from the Rajons who are facing violence and being killed everyday.

Hope those tiny little lights of vigil were meant not to remember Rajon only but also to welcome a new generations of young Bangladeshis activists who are living abroad – across the world.

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