Building A Bridge To Hamtramck’s Diverse Community

City Manager Bill Cooper says he’s soon going to schedule ethnic/religious sensitivity training for the city’s workforce.

While that’s a wise idea at any time, it’s even more important considering the Primary Election results. The top three candidates vying for three City Council seats are Bengali-American, who also happen to be Muslim.

Hamtramck has long been associated as a predominantly Polish Catholic town. While Poles still comprise a significant part of Hamtramck’s total population, the Bengali, Yemeni and Bosnian Muslim communities have grown fast in recent years.

There is a good chance one or two of the Bengali candidates will win in the November election.

City employees, who are largely Polish-Americans, will increasingly come into more contact with Hamtramck’s newest immigrants. It’s time to ramp up the effort to become more familiar with their culture and the sensitivities that will be needed in continuing business in a civil and peaceful manner.

We’re not saying that there have been problems, but certainly there have been incidents of misunderstanding and sore feelings.

Living in an ethnically diverse community like Hamtramck isn’t always easy.

And yes, cultural understanding is a two-way street. It’s equally important for our newest immigrants to become familiar with mainstream America and how government business is conducted, including the roles of police officers and investigators.

The important thing is to start a dialogue. Hamtramck needs to concentrate on moving forward and staying afloat financially.

But we first need to find out how to communicate with each other.

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