As the Brock Turner rape case unfolds and expands, I offer a different perspective.

A thought crossed my mind while I busied myself the past couple of weeks reading up on the case of Brock Turner, a former student athlete at Stanford who was convicted (or half-heartedly scolded, rather) for raping an anonymous young woman behind a dumpster.

Well, many thoughts raced through my head and none of them pleasant, but this one uneasy feeling that was only vaguely related to the case nagged at the back of my head like an itch I couldn’t scratch, until I finally touched upon it.


Reading the victim’s court statement in an article posted by Buzzfeed earlier this week sent waves of sorrow through my body as I stepped into the woman’s shoes. Her words, at once empowering and yet full of despair, shed light upon the case in a way that Turner’s feeble statement had nothing on. She relays in great detail the impact of what he had done to her–her physical and emotional state be damned, she had become a shadow of her former self during the last year. Her anguish at Turner’s laughable punishment, a mere three months, and his steadfast refusal to acknowledge the wrong he had done, struck chords of fury within me that I didn’t realize existed. Such a detailed account that reverberated among millions around the country; I am proud of her for boldly speaking out.

One beacon of light the woman pointed out–and I say woman, because she is an individual before she is defined as a victim–is the amount of support she received from her family and friends. The ever-present shoulder to cry on, being able to yield such emotion onto one’s immediate family, no questions asked, is, in my opinion, a tremendous and unrivaled source of comfort.

But what if a victim is unable to convey the horrors weakening their spirit due to cultural boundaries? What if it had been a victim from my own background?

Before I go on, I’d like to preface this by saying that no, I am not insinuating that all, or even most, South Asian families are frigid to such an extent. I speak only from my own experiences growing up in an immigrant Bengali, Muslim household, and nothing more.

Sexuality has always been and still is an oppressed topic in the South Asian community. There is no “birds and bees” talk to sit through in discomfort, no discussion of birth control for young woman or safe sex practices for young men. Despite the fact that our populace expands at an alarming rate every year, many Bengali parents refuse to touch upon such a taboo topic.

As such, us Western-influenced kids are left to our own devices when it comes to exploring sex. Whereas a white, American girl could come to her family in terror of having been a victim of rape and look for support, many South Asians like myself would never be able to entertain such a thing, for a variety of reasons.


First, victim blaming. If you think Turner sympathizers are bad enough, it’s nothing compared to immigrant communities in Western nations who harbor outdated, traditional schools of thought. I’d like to turn your attention to the well-publicized and horrific rape and brutal murder of Jyoti Singh, the victim of gang-rape and torture on a public bus in India. Her crime? Being an unmarried young woman who was taking public transportation with a male after the sun set. An event that would hardly raise eyebrows in the US, but was apparently an act that rendered a group of inhumane individuals so thunderstruck that they decided it was up to them to dole out punishment.

When the case spread like wildfire across international media, people were doubly outraged–not only because of this terrible crime committed upon unsuspecting woman, but also by the response of several Indian officials and one of the rapists himself, all of whom found the audacity to express the idea that Jyoti had it coming.

 Describing the killing as an “accident”, [the rapist] said: “When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after ‘doing her’, and only hit the boy.”


Second, her attire. It is a widely-known fact that one of the most invasive questions a woman is asked during police interviews after rape is what she was wearing that day. No doubt that a woman’s ensemble is reason enough to commit such a heinous crime. Should’ve known better than to prance around scantily clad in a….wait, Jyoti was wearing a salwar? Turner’s victim was wearing a Grandma cardigan? Something doesn’t fit this tired monologue. Because even if a rape victim who happened to be a Bengali, Muslim person was wearing a mini skirt, part of the fear that might prevent her from reaching out for help would likely lie in her family discovering what she had been wearing that night.

Third, the shame it would bring upon the family and community. I have witnessed time and again, within my family, friends and other Bengali people where individuals have gone great lengths to cover up horrible occurrences, tragedies, lies and drama in the name of saving face. The amount of publicity the woman in the Turner case received would not have been met with warm reception had this happened to a brown girl. Family and reputation is highly regarded in South Asian culture, for it alludes to potential well-being, good marriages, wealth, etc. Any potential threats are often shut down immediately, even if is at the expense of a family member.

To end, I implore Bangladeshis to do their part in destroying these cultural boundaries and start putting our people first. It does not do well to save face for reputation, to point fingers, to make nasty remarks, because the aforementioned serve only one purpose–to destroy our otherwise beautiful  heritage.




A long-overdue rant.

At last glance, my most recent blog post is dated January 1st. That’s nearly four months ago, and is indicative of a poor testament in resolving to update this website as frequently as possible.

That latter thought would be laughable, if my waning motivation to do, well, anything, wasn’t so alarming; it serves as a nagging reminder of the decay of my youth. You’ll have to pardon my unrelenting self-pity; I’m in a rather somber mood.

On Saturday, I attended a day-long conference at the Columbia Journalism School. The conference, dubbed “Conversations in Journalism,” featured a series of panels in which accomplished female journalists spoke of their experiences in the profession. Some talked about the changing industry, and others discussed the dangers they’d faced upon embarking on dangerous journeys for a scoop. One woman had traveled as far as Mexico without speaking a lick of Spanish, another, to the precarious forefront of Syria.

I came alone. My would-be comrade, who also happens to be a journalist, had forsaken me, but I didn’t mind because she was covering a story. That scenario lent to a piece of advice I had received from one of the many distinguished panelists from that day: to achieve success, one must be prepared to take L’s (excuse the poor attempt to portray that I’m still hip and down with the lingo).

What does it mean? No social life, no succumbing to FOMO (an ever-present feeling that is very 2016 and should go down in the DSM V), no distractions: only motivation. Their words, heavy with the weight of missed parties and wistful for long-gone memories, carried with me. I paid rapt attention and hung on to every word.

I left the room brimming with confidence, which was only fueled after wandering around the Ivy campus, though I admit feeling slightly self-conscious and out of place.

This newfound determination went on for a few days. I’ve been physically active and even got to work earlier than normal. I checked off more tasks from my to-do list than I had anticipated completing on a groggy Monday, and left work feeling accomplished.

The trick is, how does one maintain this determination?

I, among many others I am sure, can attest to the fact that succumbing to the terrors of procrastination as well as pure laziness is the downfall us all. How many times have you heard a person regale stories of wasted potential? The reason it is wasted rather than founded is the X factor here, the missing link.

Determination, destination, deliberation. Okay, I might have stolen that from Harry Potter, but its all the same anyway. Perhaps by setting realistic goals that you can achieve step by step, you will find your world turned upside down, rather than expecting a complete 180 overnight.

At 23 years old, I have failed to accomplish many goals I had hoped to achieve. On paper, I think I’m doing quite well: I have a stable career, even able to balance a second job, moved out into an apartment with my best friend, paying off my bills steadily. Things seem to be working out in life.

However, the mediocrity of it all is what keeps me up at night. Why should I settle to lead an average life? I recall reading somewhere, likely on a Reddit thread at 2 in the morning, that most people end up leading mediocre lives–complete with the 9-5 job, 2.5 kids and a picket fence, and that’s okay.

And I’m not knocking on anyones aspirations, because that is ok. But it’s not for me, because I want more.

I guess that leaves the question: how hard am I willing to work for it?








Welcome to 2016.

The world didn’t quite end the year on an easy note.

Some newsworthy names include Tamir Rice, Bill Cosby and Donald Trump, as well as the fire in Dubai, Paris shootings, the continued wars and violence abroad. The Syrian migrant crisis, and of course, the ever increasing threat of ISIS are all among those that 2015 will remembered for, other countless groundbreaking events notwithstanding.

This Reuters video summing up the year in a 60 second clip does the job for those in need of catching up.

2016 will bring new trials. Though past experience will leave many prepared and guarded for surprises to appear at every corner, it remains important to keep hope and optimism on board.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Bring on the year.

When Brown-Skinned and Brilliant Becomes a Threat in Disguise


Welcome to Irving, Texas, a town where even the brightest of young minds are apparently doomed to perish without merit when a display of brilliance is perceived as a threat. This only applies if you fit a certain targeted profile, the characteristics of which I am confident most Americans are well-acquainted with by now.

A high school freshman by the name of Ahmed Mohamed—yes, cue the groans because we already know where this story is going—was eager to show his engineering class teacher an invention that he created over the weekend. Resembling a clock of sorts, he told people that he had spent a mere twenty minutes piecing it together.

According to the Washington Times, he made it using a circuit board and a tiger hologram pencil case. Here’s what a combination of the latter might look like:


Most would regard the 14-year-old’s inventing capabilities as nothing short of fascinating; an emergence of creativity and innovation with the potential to go far. Mohamed brought the ensemble to class on Monday morning determined to wow teachers but to his dismay, the engineering teacher simply warned him against showing others.

These ominous words rang true later upon the discovery of the clock by another teacher who, alarmed, deemed it prudent to inform the authorities under the belief that the creation posed a threat. Shortly after, a team of five policemen crowded Mohamed, where he was unceremoniously handcuffed in front of his peers and taken away for interrogation.

Not bad for someone who had stepped foot in the school for the first time just a few weeks ago, huh?


What truly terrifies me is not only how commonplace this sort of response towards anything even remotely resembling Islam is, but how this attitude can detrimentally impact future endeavors. What does this course of action tell future inventors and engineers who may hail from a certain background?

For anyone who has even stepped foot into a high school robotics team room, the abundance of a variety of circuit boards and other unknown gadgets will become immediately apparent. Read: NOT A BOMB.

Freshman year of high school is a fleeting period of time where the possibilities to explore are endless, where creativity has yet to be stifled by the troubles of puberty, high school drama and the like. This incident may well leave Mohamed traumatized for the future, though judging by his response to the news outlets and on social media, the young man is cut from a tougher cloth than the rest.


In regards to safety concerns: there is no doubt that upon notification of a real and true threat, proper action should be taken. However, if officials did indeed believe the invention to be a potential bomb, where was the alarm? Where was the school evacuation, the loudspeaker announcement? Where was the uproar?

When I was a sophomore in high school, my institution received a phone call regarding a bomb threat and immediately evacuated all students and staff to send them to nearby facilities. This took place while snow fell heavily, leaving students to evacuate without coats or proper attire, many still clad in shorts and t-shirts as they were forced to leave gym class. This is an appropriate reaction to harm.

In contrast, Irving MacArthur High simply isolated the student to be under severe questioning by officials and allowed classes to continue. The Dallas Morning News reports that when Mohamed was confronted by a police offer after being withdrawn from class, the first words the man uttered were, “Yup. That’s who I thought it was.”


Judging by the outpouring of support and cries of injustice on social media, most of the Internet is on Mohamed’s side, and rightly so. Prominent figures such as President Barack Obama, Democratic frontrunner Hilary Clinton and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have offered words of sincerity and solace to the bespectacled youth—his intellect recognized, it is no doubt that he is guaranteed a career before he gets to college.

A new hashtag, #IStandWithAhmad, is making its way around the web, with hundreds of thousands of people proudly creating a virtual backbone for Mohamed.

A child’s cry is silenced forever

Yet our current struggle remains a political one.

Ali Saad Dawabsheh was killed during an arson attack on West Bank today. Eighteen months old, with no capacity to fathom the horrors that surrounded his entire upbringing and robbed the ability to ever understand why his life was taken. He never stood a chance.

Yet people are insisting on using the terrible tragedy to catapult the usual religious propaganda.

During my own times of hardship, I let my mind wander freely and it often rests upon the notion of how very lucky I am.  A living, breathing being with a mind of my own and with opportunities resting upon my feet. Save for any obstacle which I have the right, at least, to overcome.

How very lucky I am, that I live in my world. How very sad, that I live in this world.

May your soul be met with the open arms of the heavens, you poor child.

What, we’re not calling them terrorists this time?

The shooting in Texas by two gunman in response to an Anti-Islamic art exhibition is reminiscent of January’s Charlie Hebdo tragedy.

In an essay submitting to obtain a scholarship, I wrote about whether or not the French government should limit free speech in the interest of protecting the public. While I objected to such an act in my piece, I also referred to the Hebdo incident by a phrase that goes along the lines of, “if you poke a hornet’s nest, don’t be surprised by the stings.”

This phrase should be understood as a whole because I am in no way justifying retaliation violence in any form. This does not mean that I cannot express my disgust towards prejudiced groups of people who insist on provoking a large population of people with a huge offense because of the actions of the few. Freedom of expression is a double-edged sword where one is perfectly able to lend their minds to free speech, but cannot be ignorant to the fact that there may be some sort of repercussion to the actions: it’s a two-way street.


The cover of Time magazine’s issue last week was the most compelling photo I have seen regarding the riots in Baltimore.

It is 2015–the 21st century–and matters regarding race are still making headlines, causing violence and deaths, and driving a deeper wedge into two dominant groups in the US. How can we expect to progress and function as a society? Listening to commentary from social media sounds like the interview for a street crime–everyone saw, heard or understood something different.

The magazine cover says it all: despite all of our technological, scientific and literary accomplishments, much of American has remained the same.

Mass deaths caused by earthquake and Bruce Jenner’s transformation are trending right now

Because a single individual’s personal life and choices are on par with over 1,000 lives being extinguished. ‘Murica.

The order of priority when it comes to stories of varying nature is a concept that makes me feel so uneasy while consuming the news. News sources are the only way individuals are able to get any information on the goings-on of this world; knowing this, newspapers take advantage of this vulnerability and bombard us with stretched-out and unimportant stories like celebrity woes, to the point where we do in fact begin to see these things as news, and hence become more attuned to them.

I used to follow Kylie and Kendall Jenner on Instagram until I came to my senses. If you don’t know who they are, then you are doing something right and I beg you to show me your ways.

In Nepal, a disastrous earthquake struck the city, leading to a death toll of nearly 1,200 and counting.

1200 people in one go. I cannot even fathom the idea of it nor illustrate what that must look like.

“For years, people have worried about an earthquake of this magnitude in western Nepal, which saw its last massively destructive event more than 100 years ago. Many feared that an immense death toll would result, in part because in recent years construction has been largely unregulated, said Ganesh K. Bhattari, a Nepalese expert on earthquakes now living in Denmark.”

I find this quote particularly striking because it is reminiscent of a tragedy that occurred exactly two years ago in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which incidentally is the city that I was born in. A poorly-constructed, 8-story building that was in need of immediate evacuation collapsed, resulting in the deaths of nearly 1,200, the same as this natural disaster in Nepal. The word murder seems to be more appropriate here as the owner of Rana Plaza, the aforementioned building where many people slaved away at low wages for giant, American-based corporations, was told about the threat of a building collapse right before it occurred, a comment which he dismissed as unimportant. Of course, I wouldn’t want to be accused of libel, but be that as it may…