New Jersey’s first Sikh Lawyer Basic, Gurbir Singh Grewal, was a target of derogatory remarks in 2018. Two radio hosts commented on Grewal’s Sikh id and repeatedly referred to as him “the turban man”. Requested how offensive their feedback had been, one mentioned, “Pay attention, and if that offends you then do not put on the turban and perhaps I am going to keep in mind your title.”
Listeners, activists and Sikhs throughout the nation acted instantly, contacting the station to voice their issues. Information organizations rapidly picked up the story and radio hosts have been suspended.
Grewal is a practising Sikh who maintains a turban and beard. Students and authorities officers imagine that the American Sikh inhabitants number of about 500,000. Nonetheless, for a lot of American Sikhs, such experiences usually are not unusual. As a specialist in tradition and myself a practising Sikh, I’ve studied the cruel realities of what it means to be a Sikh in America right now. I’ve additionally identified racial slurs from a younger age.
The underside line is that it’s hardly understood who precisely the Sikhs are and what they imagine. So this is an introduction.
Founding father of Sikhism
To start out originally, the founding father of the Sikh custom, Guru Nanak was born in 1469 within the Punjab area of South Asia, presently divided between Pakistan and northwest India. A majority of the worldwide Sikh inhabitants still resides in Punjab on the Indian side of the border.
From an early age, Guru Nanak was disillusioned by the social inequalities and spiritual hypocrisies he noticed round him. He believed that one divine force created the entire world and lived there. In his perception, God was not separate from the world and observing from a distance, however absolutely current in all elements of creation.
To advertise this imaginative and prescient of divine unity and social equality, Guru Nanak created religious institutions and practices. He created neighborhood facilities and locations of worship, wrote his personal scriptural compositions, and institutionalized a management system (gurus) that will advance his imaginative and prescient.
The Sikh perspective due to this fact rejects all social distinctions that produce inequalities, together with gender, race, faith and caste, the predominant construction of the social hierarchy in South Asia.
Serving the world is a pure expression of Sikh prayer and worship. Sikhs call this prayer service “seva”, and it’s a vital a part of their follow.
Within the Sikh custom, a very non secular particular person is one who cultivates non secular self whereas serving the communities round him – or a saint-soldier. The perfect of the holy soldier applies to ladies in addition to to males.
With this in thoughts, Sikh men and women preserve five articles of faith, commonly known as the five K’s. These are: kes (uncut lengthy hair), kara (metal bracelet), kanga (picket comb), kirpan (small sword) and kachera (soldier shorts).
Though little historic proof exists as to why these specific objects had been chosen, the 5Ks proceed to supply the neighborhood with a collective id, binding people collectively on the idea of shared perception and follow. As I perceive it, Sikhs treasure these articles of religion as presents from their gurus.
Turbans are an essential a part of Sikh id. Each men and women can put on turbans. Like articles of religion, Sikhs regard their turbans as presents given by their beloved gurus, and its which means is deeply private. In South Asian tradition, sporting a turban often indicated one’s social standing – kings and rulers as soon as wore turbans. the Sikh gurus have adopted the turban, partly, to remind Sikhs that each one people are sovereign, royal and finally equal.
Sikhs in America
As we speak there may be around 30 million Sikhs in the world, making Sikhism the fifth main faith on this planet.
After British colonizers in India seized energy within the Punjab in 1849, the place nearly all of the Sikh neighborhood was based mostly, Sikhs began to migrate to various areas controlled by the British Empire, together with South East Asia, East Africa and the UK itself. Primarily based on what was out there to them, Sikhs performed varied roles in these communities, together with navy service, agricultural work, and constructing railways.
The first Sikh community entered the United States by way of the west coast within the Eighteen Nineties. They started to face discrimination upon arrival. For instance, the first race riot targeting Sikhs occurred in Bellingham, Washington, in 1907. Offended crowds of white males Sikh workers gathered, beat them and compelled them to go away city.
Discrimination has continued through the years. For instance, when my father left Punjab for the USA within the Nineteen Seventies, racial slurs like “Ayatollah” and “raghead” had been thrown at him. It was a time when 52 diplomats and US citizens taken captive in Iran and the stress between the 2 nations was excessive. These insults mirrored the racist backlash in opposition to those that match the stereotypes of Iranians. Our household confronted an identical racist backlash when the USA entered the Gulf Struggle within the early Nineteen Nineties.
Racist assaults elevated once more after 9/11, particularly as a result of People had been unaware of the Sikh faith and confused the unique Sikh appearance with popular stereotypes of what terrorists seem like.
In comparison with the final decade, the rates of violence against Sikhs have increased after the election of President Donald Trump. The Sikh Coalition, the most important Sikh civil rights group in the USA, present in 2018 that American Sikhs had been focused for hate crimes about once a week.
As a practising Sikh, I can say that the Sikh commitment to the principles of their faith, together with love, service and justice, retains them resilient within the face of hate. For these causes, for a lot of Sikh People, like Gurbir Grewal, it’s gratifying to keep up their distinctive Sikh id.
Editor’s Observe: This text was initially revealed in 2018.
This text is republished from The conversation, a non-profit information website devoted to sharing concepts from educational consultants.
Simran Jeet Singh doesn’t work, seek the advice of, personal inventory or obtain funding from any firm or group that will profit from this text, and has not disclosed any related affiliation past his educational appointment.