‘Newsmaker of the Year’: The Bangladeshi voting bloc

typewriter The year 2009 was an incredible year.
We had plenty of exciting ups and downs and in-betweens. As far as news, we had a ton to write about. The closing of American Axle. The building of a new state Human Services building. The partnership with the state. The ongoing case of missing 3-year-old Tangena Hussain. The closing of The Citizen newspaper and the start-up of The Review.
That’s to name just a few. To get an idea of the big picture, we have dedicated this issue and next week’s issue to a look back on the stories and events of 2009 – both big and small.
Perhaps the biggest story of the year, what The Citizen called “Newsmaker of the Year,” is the incredible growth of the Bangladeshi community and its newly formed political clout.
One local Bengali writer aptly named it a “silent demonstration.”
And what a demonstration it turned out to be. No one saw it coming, at least those of us outside the Bangladeshi community. And maybe even a few of the Bangladeshi candidates who ran for office were quietly surprised.
If they knew what was about to happen, they weren’t bragging about it.
What happened?
Well, the August Primary Election produced an outpouring of Bangladeshi voters who overwhelmingly pushed three Bengali council candidates to the top three spots. Before this election, the Bangladeshi community played a marginal, but at times pivotal, role in Hamtramck elections.
Think back to 1999, when Bangladeshi voters were being harassed at the polls. Today, it’s safe to say the Bangladeshi community is now Hamtramck’s most powerful voting bloc.
This was an historical year for Hamtramck and this past election cycle shows that a new chapter is about to be written for this city of immigrants. Once we were mostly German here, and then Polish and now, it appears to be the Bangladeshi community’s turn.
It’s an ongoing tale of the American immigrant experience, a tale that is endlessly fascinating.

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