I recently received this comment from a Bangladeshi who is wealthy enough to live in the United States:
I understand that this guy is helping the people in Bangladesh, but honestly is it that hard to shoe [sic] the good part of Bangladesh and not the part that’s poor because not everywhere in Bangladesh is like that. [emphasis mine]
I’m sharing this comment because many wealthier Bangladeshis equate anything that has to do with poverty (whether or not that focus embraces guilt-free positivity and eschews poverty porn) as automatically “bad”.
There’s nearly 150 million people in this country and, according to the United Nations, over half of them are living in extreme poverty. It would be nice if wealthier Bangladeshis could acknowledge we can have a conversation about Bangladesh’s poor without it being seen as “showing the bad”.
I’m not saying this based on one lone YouTube comment. This point-of-view is actually fairly commonplace among wealthier Bangladeshis and has actually been the focus of a thorough academic analysis in the book “Elite Perceptions of Poverty in Bangladesh” by Dr. Naomi Hossain.
As Dr. Hossain points out, wealthier (or “elite”) Bangladeshis “do not feel threatened by the extent of poverty, or by poor people”. Rather, they feel that poverty threatens “the wealth or international stature of the nation”. So for many Bangladeshis, talking about the poorer half makes Bangladesh look bad.
We need to get over ourselves.