As I mentioned earlier on this blog last weekend I had the honour of attending the America-Bangladesh-Canada (ABC) Convention in New York.
The ABC’s mission is to ‘promote Bangladeshi cultural heritage abroad, build up bridges between homeland and motherland as well as to develop the harmonious relationship between growing Bangladeshi community and the main stream’. With the international Bangladeshi community expanding, these aims are more pertinent to us than ever before.
It felt appropriate therefore to talk in New York about our experience in Tower Hamlets.
New York is the world’s great immigrant city.
It is the shining example of how immigrant communities, often escaping the most desperate circumstances, can overcome great obstacles to thrive and advance.
Central to its success as a city as been it’s the way it has come to embrace the multiple identities of its citizens.
The history of New York is completely intertwined with the history of communities, who have multiple identities, whether it is Italian-American, or Irish-American, or African-American, or Asian-American.
New York provided the template of multiculturalism. And key to its success is its embracing of multiculturalism.
With the concept of multiculturalism under attack here in the UK, there are many positive lessons for us from the experience of multiculturalism in New York.
I really enjoyed participating in the Convention, and learnt a lot from it. Thanks to the organisers for inviting me, and especially to John Liu, the New York city comptroller and first Asian person to run for Mayor in 2013, who presented me with an award for dedication to public service.