More and more people are using the word ‘Bangla’ in a derogatory and racist sense. And it disgusts me.
The word ‘Bangla’ refers to a language native to Bangladesh and West Bengal. It is accepted also as a term to refer to the people of Bangladesh.
However, in Singapore where we import labour, ‘Bangla’ characterises construction workers who may or may not even come from Bangladesh. It has a hidden meaning behind it, which people are ignorant of.
Through the countless racist jokes and stereotypes, the workers in question, have been associated with the qualities of being dim-witted, perverted, smelly, illegal and inferior. I must add that there are some workers who fit this stereotype, but to use a word that associates those qualities with their skin colour is just wrong. Everyone should be treated with respect and should not be judged by their race.
Imagine going abroad to work. There is the language and culture barrier to get used to. Does it make you dim-witted for being inept in speaking another language? If you are a construction worker, wouldn’t you sweat and consequently smell? Because of these things, is it fair for people of another society to judge people like you as outcasts.
Consider this, commonly used by people:
Seems innocent, doesn’t it. But what if it was ‘Stupid Chinese’, ‘Stupid Malay’ or ‘Stupid Indian’ (replace Bangla with your own race)? Wouldn’t this be an insult directed to the person’s race.
This word has not only been indiscriminately used to describe any dark-skinned construction worker, some have used it on Indians to insult them. And who’s to say this racist sentiment won’t be spread due to popularity?
Now, I’m not one for political correctness. I’m not saying when we talk about a person’s race we should say: ‘I have this friend who is of China origin but she was born in Singapore. Her grandparents migrated, you see. That was a century ago.’.
That would be plain stupid. If you’re going to mention race, just say it.
There was this Bangla worker who pissed me off today. He dropped the rusty steel reinforcements through my foot, which kept me rooted on the ground for five hours. Bloody fucker!
That would have been fine because you have not made the issue about his race. The use of the italicised word clearly implies a worker from Bangladesh.
My whole point is, do not use a word or insult that targets a person’s racial traits. It is a gutless and brainless thing to do. Lastly, we ought to treat people with more compassion and understanding of their situation, not bully them for being a minority!