Immigrant boys are under pressure from society and their parents

Immigrant boys have become society scapegoats, about to become oppressors and criminals. Immigrant girls, on the other hand, are the victims who must be saved from us sexist assholes

Fifity-five percent of us immigrant boys in Copenhagen are functional illiterates when we leave school. Eight percent of us are criminals, and if we were to believe our justice minister, our parents are the root of all that evil. Cutting down on unemployment benefits and taking away child support should miraculously make us choose education instead of a glamorous life on the bottom of society.

We are also often compared to our other half, the immigrant girls of our generation who are conquering the world.

But just how does the lack of a proper upbringing only affect us boys, while it seems to have the opposite effect on the girls?

On a typical school day 12 years ago, when I was 12, I was playing table-tennis when I saw most of my classmates gather around a TV in the teachers’ room. It was September 11. I’ll never forget that day. In the following days, I became somewhat famous at the school because my siblings and I were the only immigrants there. That we came from Afghanistan, more specifically from the Kandahar and Helmand province, didn’t make the situation any easier for me.

To sit around while the rest of the school discusses you and your origin is a strange feeling. People at my school were extremely nice, but as a 12-year-old boy it was very difficult to respond to questions like: why do people from your home country not like the West? Why are they evil? Why are they killing innocent people? What do they have against women?

Those of us at the start of our 20s have lived through three wars in the countries where we come from and had to deal with the Cartoon Crisis during our school days. Believe me when I say that it is a burden for a teenager to constantly defend your origin not only to the public, but also in social studies and history class.

At the exact age when most of us want to disappear into the crowd, we have been subjects in the public’s debate. You don’t need to be the biggest expert in psychology to predict how those circumstances may affect a teenager. We are constantly reminded that we are different, that there is something wrong with us and that there is something we have to change.

But we have also faced challenges outside school. There is a common misconception among ethnic Danes that boys in immigrant families have it easy and that life for them is a bed of roses.

Most immigrant families have a patriarchal structure, meaning that men probably have more ‘freedom’ in their daily life. But it also means that there are far more demands and expectations of men.

We are seen as providers who should take care of our family. At first, that family is your siblings. When you’re married, it’s your wife and kids. A wife who is likely to be better educated than you.

Immigrant boys have become society’s scapegoats, oppressors and primitive criminals. But immigrant girls are victims who need to be saved from us sexist assholes.

Both the boys and the girls had the same upbringing at home. The difference is just the constant pressure we live under, both from society, and at home. There is a wide consensus that it’s merely because of the politicians’ 24-year-law that immigrant girls are successful – not because of their own skills.

The race is over for my generation. We can’t be saved. The majority of us have a poor education or none at all. We are going to take the few unskilled jobs that are available, but it seems more likely that we are going to live off public benefits.

But to save the next generation, society needs to change its view of us so that we are not always seen as an external element in an otherwise harmonic society.   

The author is a student.