AbrarBhaiya, JalalAmazing, kalojaamtogo – these are just a few of the recent Bangladeshi American (or Bangladeshi Canadian, in case of kalojaamtogo) teen YouTube vloggers who have caught the attention of the younger Bangladeshi generation both home and abroad. The vlogs are highly relatable; with incessant jokes about over-talkative aunties, uncles with OCD for discussing politics, girls who are just trying too hard to fit in the Mean Girl definition of “queen bee”, and guys with hard-core Bangali ways to pick up girls, the vlogs have managed to appear on the subscription lists of thousands of Bangladeshis. However, one thing they really failed to portray was the “FoBs” – the Fresh off the Boat people. They just ignored the large number of YouTube conscious students that come to the United States each year from Bangladesh, and categorized them in the poorly defined FoB group. And I believe they should know a few more things about the wide range of FoBs before ever portraying them, especially on influential websites like YouTube.
Five things every second generation Bangladeshi American should know about us “FoBs”:
1. Not all of us came here through the DV lottery
Yeah, seems unlikely, but some of us did manage to land our asses in the United States through average to high SAT scores and scholarships. We did manage to use our 56 kbps internets back at our homes, apply to universities and get our respective acceptance letters, through SNAIL MAIL. Yes, all you second generation Bangladeshi Americans out there, we do have post offices back in Bangladesh.
2. Not all of us are from the villages
Well, dear second generation Bangladeshi Americans, let me provide you with a fast fact from Bangladesh: 24 percent of the entire population of Bangladesh is considered as urban population, i.e. they live in CITIES! So, let us get this straight: Bangladesh is not confined to your grandparents’ houses in the villages where sheep and cows outnumber the humans. There are actual metropolitans in Bangladesh; although they portrayed Dhaka very negatively, the Huffington Post accredited Dhaka as the fastest growing megacity in the world in 2010. Not only Dhaka, the so-called “towns” of Chittagong and Rajshahi, especially Chittagong, can no longer be held within the narrow definition of a town. As of 2012, Chittagong is the only port city (I repeat, CITY) and on its way to become a blooming one. So, whatever may be the way we end up in the United States, either through the DV lottery or through our prized F-1 visas, some of us are entirely city-bred.
3. We know English
Hard to believe, right? But we learn English as a language, and for some of us, it has been the sole language of education throughout elementary, middle and high schools. We do know how to communicate in English, and I believe, we do know our English grammar better than most of the FoB haters out there (the hours spent in English Language classes do pay off). Yes, we might not have the “Oh-so-cool” American accent that your childhood in the United States has instilled in you, but we do understand you and I believe you understand us too. No need to point out our imperfect accents by amending our incorrectly stressed syllables.
4. We use perfumes
Dear sirs and ma’ams of the second generation Bangladeshi American society,
Please be informed that we, the newbies, the FoBs, that defile your lives by making our existence prominent in the American society, are aware of the usage of perfumes. We do not, under any circumstances, use Febreeze to get rid of body odor – we always use deodorants, and perfumes, in case someone significant just happens to be nearby.
With much love,
The non-curry smelling majority FoBs
5. Marriage is not the only thing on our bucket list
One quick shout out to the FoB haters out there: have you ever noticed some of our ages? Or you probably assumed that all of us are in our late twenties or early thirties, “Forever Eka”, highly socially awkward, stuck with green cards, and desperate to meet the guy or girl of our dreams – for marriage (apparently FoBs are unaware of the concept of affairs, as a second generation Bangladeshi American once informed me). No. There are teenagers like us who also fall under the category of being a FoB, and yet, we neither meet any of the above “FoB characteristics” (you do not see us flashing off green cards, do you?), nor do we desire to be out there in the marriage market anytime soon.
While I do not mean to categorize all second generation Bangladeshi Americans essentially as FoB haters, but there are a huge number of them out there who really do not know the existence of college-going, teenaged FoBs, or cultured DV lottery winners, or even the urbanized Bangladeshi population for that matter. They just assume each Bangladeshi that lands on American soil are curry-smelling, non-English speaking villagers from the very rural heart of Bangladesh. Although I personally like being called a FoB (I mean, come on. Pretending to be something that you are essentially not is fun. Like Batman.), some YouTube vloggers take the fun out of it. Because of the mass popularity of these vlogs, a large population out there is getting a completely wrong idea about the FoBs in general. They just ignore (or are unaware of) the teen generation, and the non-lungi wearing DV lottery winners, who are struggling to make it big here, and in most cases, completely on their own.