Pream Anandarajah is a Canadian born Tamil teenager whose uninsured Scarborough home was recently firebombed, sending his mother Jeyaluckshmi to the burn unit at the hospital [via UB]. And yes, this was an ethnic attack, but not in the way you might think. His attackers weren’t white, they were Sri Lankan Tamils, but
FOBs recent immigrants instead of Canadian born. Is FOB as bad a word as n–er?
That’s right — there’s intragroup gang violence between CBD and recent immigrant Sri Lankan Hindu Tamils, serious violence:
Hours before the firebombing, a friend of Anandarajah’s was stabbed … He rattles off the names of gangs that he says recently arrived Sri Lankan youth have formed: EST (East Side Thugs); BNS; BNS Juniors; Tux Boys (Tuxedo Park); Tiger Boys; Gilders (Gilders Street). [Link]
The firebombing was part of an escalating series of retaliatory attacks, including one where Anandarajah was jumped by 12 students in the high school parking lot and knifed:
Touching his neck he says, “I don’t know how I got this scar. It happened after I was knocked out. They beat me up real bad. My mom couldn’t even recognize my face.” [Link]
p>One major beef between the groups is the use of the word FOB:
Frequently tossed around in the escalating feud between the groups is a loaded word, used to bully, label and shame. The mostly Tamil Sri Lankan youth around Scarborough who get called FOBs say the word is used as a weapon against them.
“It’s like calling a black man, n—–,” says a Grade 10 student. [Link]
p>Apparently, that name calling also played a role in the firebombing:
Anandarajah says it was older youths who were responsible for the attack on his house, most of whom either dropped out or have been expelled. “I understand why they’re angry, calling them FOBs. But they took it too far with this…” [Link]
p>The whole thing seems to be about being “square”. Recent immigrants say they get harassed for not fitting in:
… [Recent immigrants] say the tension begins in high school. They get harassed for playing cricket, having unfashionable hairdos, wearing tight-fitting shirts, too high pants and speaking Tamil. [Link]
p>Their Canadian born brethren seem to agree. Recent immigrants are just uncool:
“They can’t speak English, they have these weird haircuts,” says Chris, a Grade 12 student at nearby L’Amoreaux Collegiate. “The way they walk and they dress bad. It gives Sri Lankans a bad name, it’s embarrassing.”
One of them blurts out that they’re “fresh off the banana boat, they’re all FOBs, Tiger Boys, and they always will be…” The differences seem minor. Unless you’re in high school. “It’s stupid,” Anandarajah says. “But when we’re playing soccer, why do they have to come over and play cricket? We don’t play cricket here…” [Link]
So what say you? Is FOB a highly offensive term? What term would you prefer? NRI is both exclusionary (doesn’t apply here), and imprecise (to the Indian government I’m both an NRI and an ABD). Is there a different term that works better?
Would you start a fight if you got called a “FOB” ?