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|Volume 11 |Issue 05| February 03, 2012 ||
The Art of Racism
Yesterday while going on a bus from Banani to Dhanmondi, two black men got on at Mohakhali. All the seats were filled except for one beside a woman at the end of the bus. One of them went and took the seat beside her. She instantly made a scornful face and rudely demanded that he 'move'. He was offended and replied that there was no way he could move and that he would not.
This commotion drew the attention of the people and for awhile heated conversations took place. This eventually led to most of the people in the bus demanding that these two men be made to leave the bus. If the men were rude and they were made to get off it because they were rude, I would have no reason to be distressed. But it was something that hurt my own being as a Bengali when many of them were saying things like "Just because we Bengalies are nice to you, you treat our women badly!"
It shot a feeling of guilt through me because I knew very well that there was no way to justify their racist attitude towards people of a different race. They were using women as an excuse because the day before, while I was getting off the bus, I was pushed by a man behind me. After telling him twice not to touch me, when he did not listen I turned around and slapped him. I only heard utter silence then. I did not see any of our Bengali, respectful men come forward to aid a woman in distress and being mistreated. So why suddenly, did it become a matter of concern now? The two foreigners as they got down from the bus yelled at us saying, "You are all foolish people." So much for being patriotic and stressing our own identity, which only branded us as 'foolish'. George Bernard Shaw wrote that: "Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it." If this is how we should be defined then in one word we are all 'racists'.
Less Talk and More Action
The other day, on my way to a public library, I saw some child hawkers selling books. I stopped to buy some books. As I bought the books I started chatting with them, asking them their names and what they did. One of them asked me if I ever published their photographs in any newspaper. This question puzzled me, so they went on to explain that often people like me come and talk to them and take their photographs and details about their lifestyle. Often their pictures and stories are printed in newspapers, and they enjoy being photographed. But what they wanted to know was if they would really get anything out of it, because their situations remained the same. Nothing changed, and they were eventually forgotten after a few days. They had to continue selling books and make a meagre living out of selling books on the streets.
I felt ashamed. We would have done other things to help these children if we cared and not just take their photographs and write stories about them. We should all come forward to help these children change their lives. Less talk and more action is needed.
Bipul K Debnath
A few days back my sister-in-law and I had taken my child to a hospital near Malibagh for a check-up. Since this was my first time at the pediatric department, I was unaware of the facilities available there, but my baby was hungry and I needed to feed my him. Therefore, looking for a quiet room, I eventually entered the immunisation room and settled down to feed my baby. The room attendant there understood my need and directed me to another room. Much to my pleasant surprise I saw that the room was one that was exclusively reserved for mothers to feed, change diapers and clean their babies. I know for sure that that most hospitals and health centres do not necessarily offer such facilities. If all pediatric departments in every hospital provided such facilities, it would have been very beneficial for both the mother and child.
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