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Opinion Dreadlocks, Turbans, and Rollercoaster Racism

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by findingmyway, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. findingmyway

    findingmyway
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    Living in Brooklyn, New York City as a turban-wearing Sikh, I attract plenty of negative attention from random strangers as well as the cops, which I’ve written about at length. Fortunately, I also get some love and respect from time to time as I walk or ride my bike in my neighborhood in central Brooklyn — especially from Rastafarian men who don uncut dreadlocks, often wrapped up not so differently than the gol pagh I wear, albeit usually much taller.

    I don’t mean to make broad generalizations about a whole community, but it is worth mentioning that nearly every time I cross paths with a man who appears to be Rastafarian, without fail I get a shout out. ”Respect, brother,” or “Blessings, brother,” usually accompanied by a hand or fist on his heart. Living in a neighborhood with a large Caribbean population, I encounter this regularly (and reciprocate), which is a breath of fresh air in my day-to-day life, which involves no shortage of street harassment, dirty looks, and sometimes worse. I’m grateful for this genuine, simple act of human connection and solidarity.

    I’ve talked to friends about this phenomenon as well as my brother who has had similar interactions with Rastafarians in Atlanta, GA where he lives. The consensus is that the connection might stem from a recognition of a mutual prioritizing of our spirituality, and in particular, our shared spiritual connection to our hair. Indeed, Rastafarians believe in keeping hair in its natural state, and many wrap up and cover their dreadlocks.

    Without overstating any similarities between two very different spiritual traditions, our shared commitment to keeping our hair (not to mention a shared commitment in fighting for justice) is striking.

    Our respective commitments to our hair have been similarly met with discrimination— discrimination that threatens our right to practice our religions or express our identities freely, based on racist notions of what a “professional” hairstyle is.

    Earlier today I received a Change.org petition today about a Black college student named MarKeese Warner who is being denied a summer job at Six Flags because of her dreadlocks. While she is not Rastafarian, her locks are nevertheless an important part of her identity. She states:
    Locks are predominantly worn by African-American, Caribbean and African people as an expression of how our hair grows naturally. My hair is important to me and part of who I am. I’ve had locks for about five years. Being disqualified as a potential employee because of my hair made me feel defeated; as my hair is representation of my personal growth through the years. It hurts to hear major employers like Six Flags call my natural hair and texture “extreme.” Unfortunately, throughout history, many people have demonized locks.
    Sounds familiar? Not long ago, young Sikh trumpet player Sukhbir Channa was told by Disney that he could not work there as a musician because his turban did not conform to the “Disney Look.”

    Not surprisingly, hijabs don’t make the cut for the Disney Look either. In 2010, 26-year-old Imane Boudlal sued Disneyland for not allowing her to work as a hostess at Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel because of her hijab. “Disney…advised Boudlal that if she refused to remove her hijab, she could either work a back-of-the-house position where any customers would not see her, or else go home,” said her union spokesperson.

    No dreadlocks at Six Flags, no turbans or hijabs at Disneyland (or Rye Playland). These massive institutions representing all things fun and adventurous are sending quite the disempowering message to Black, Sikh and Muslim youth. And of course, they represent just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to discrimination we face based on our articles of faith or culture. (For example, there is Kendall Gibson who has spent over a decade in solitary confinement because his refusal to cut his dreadlocks goes against prison grooming policies. His locks may apparently present a threat to himself or others. I’ve heard that same line before regarding my turban.)

    We all have much work to do to organize our communities to challenge bigotry and discrimination at all levels, even on rollercoasters. Summer job-seeking MarKeese Warner is calling for support in the form of signing her petition and spreading the word about Six Flags’ blatant discrimination. Much respect and many blessings to MarKeese for not backing down to Six Flags’ rollercoaster racism. I hope her fight inspires many others like her — dreadlocked, turbaned, or hijabed — to challenge institutional bigotry.

    http://thelangarhall.com/usa/dreadlocks-turbans-and-rollercoaster-racism/
     
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  3. Luckysingh

    Luckysingh United States
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    Rastafarians keep hair uncut as part of their religion, they feel it increases their spirituality. Many rastafarians say that keeping long uncut hair are like 'antenaee' that help pick up a clearer signal with creator.

    Most do understand what sikhs are and what they are about just as we understand what their uncut hair is about.

    Interestingly, their name 'rastafarian' comes from sanskrit and means ' to be walking the path' - the path being to creator and creation.

    the word 'rasta'- as in hindi and punjabi is the direction or the path,the way.
    the word'farian' as in punjabi and hindi again 'to ferr' means to walk or to access.
    ie. main ferrna means I'm going to walk.

    This information is not from wiki or any other site but something I learnt whilst in the company of caribbeans.
     
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  4. Kanwaljit Singh

    Kanwaljit Singh India
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    I feel bad visiting Disneyland this week if they suffer from so much bigotry!

    Could you expand more on this?
     
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  5. Luckysingh

    Luckysingh United States
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    Kanwaljit ji, I think it refers to safety aspects and as a safety issue. Long hair is not allowed in many estabilishments due to risk of getting caught in machinery etc... BUT- they are normally expected to have it tied up or covered with some sort of hat, they are not normally refused the job or work!!! similar risk is dangly earrings that are not usually allowed for this same reason.

    In a theme park where one may be supervising and seating visitors then there will be a risk of loose clothing and loose hair getting caught up in machinery, railtracks or appliances. BUT- I cannot understand what risk it poses if tied up and properly secured.


    I do remember seeing a sikh at six flags- Magic Mountain and he had his hair tied up in a guth and had a baseball cap on. It was only because he spoke in punjabi that I recognized him as a sikh, otherwise I thought he was mexican or hispanic.

    I'm not sure why the rastafarian would be refused if he agreed to have it tied up sensibly instead of loose with risk of getting caught up in something.

    Like wise I have seen both sikhs and rastafarians working in fast food chains like A&W's, wendys and mcdonalds.. etc .. and they also have their hair tied back along with appropriate company head wear. I have not come across a traditional dastaar in such places, but some singhs do wear a light patka over the jurrha with the company hat and logo securely on top.


    I'm not too sure about what the disneyland problem is, as in the Los Angeles resort you see quite a few punjabi students especially now in the summer. I don't specifically remember encountering any turbans, but seeing them certainly wouldn't look out of place with all the punjabis there as visitors, However, on the other hand the disney resort in Florida is much more different, you dont see as many punjabi, puerto ricans, mexicans, hispanic..etc.. as you do in L.A., So you don't come across many turbans in the general crowd either when compared to L.A.

    With the trumpet player issue above, we can't be too sure what the exact issue was. I know that the orchestra venues normally have evening dress codes like black-tie, maybe he refused to wear the black turban!!! i'm not sure and don't really know what the exact issue was, haven't checked it !!!!

    It does all seem a little far fetched seeing as little kids from rural hill billy towns in mid- west, like one's who have never seen a coloured face in real life, all know what a turban is thanks to disney's Alladin and arabian charachters. Yet this same disney has different views for employees!!!
     
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    #4 Luckysingh, Jun 23, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2012
  6. Kanwaljit Singh

    Kanwaljit Singh India
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    Similar issues affect those who are just helping people get on the ride or at ticket counter or performing in group dance.
     
  7. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    and more and more "young sikhs" who keep Kesh long..are wearing patkas with pony tails or joorra ta the back !! Seeing more and more such types in malaysia...in fact even if some wear a dastaar..the joorra is at the BACK or flattened out so the GOLH-PUGGH we see on the heads of students of Baru sahib Academy run by baba types...that type of rasied water tanki structure puggh cna DROP off or be knocked OFF with a slight push as its ABOVE the EARS and not anchored by the ears !!:tablakudi:
     
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  8. Brother Onam

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    Gur fateh. I appreciate the fresh reading of the word "rastafari", but to say this is where the word originates is a little misleading. It comes, of course, from the Ethiopic "ras" and "tafari", something like "Prince Tafari", Emporer Selassi's original name and title.
     
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  9. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    OnamJi ji ji

    thank you for that clarification
     
  10. Joginder Singh Foley

    Joginder Singh Foley United Kingdom
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    WJKKWJKF Sat Siri Akal


    Properly tied a turban will not come of in my experience i know this as i own and ride high performance motorcycles [motorcycles capable of speeds of 150 MPH plus] at speeds of 100 MPH plus and not lost a turban yet Been riding motorcycles for 38 years and a Sikh for 25 years

    :happysingh:
     
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  11. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    I have read the history of the Akali Morchas of 1920's where the British Police was extremely brutal with sikh jathas but hardly nay mention of turbans off/or allegations of police pulling kesh etc..but recent reports form Punjab..show a lot of turbans OFF and police dragging kesh..i think the modern turban is not as anchored as in the past..it comes off too easily..maybe i am wrong but a turban NOT anchored by the EARS is not stable enough to resist uprooting...remember the Sant ji of CHICAGO...with the SAME TYPE of GOL PUGGH....LOST it while FLEEING the Sangat gathered outside his Hotel Room...no one manhandled him..he was simply RUNNING..and he still LOST his turban and left it behind...i cant IMAGINE his turban intact in a 150 MPH wind on your motorbike ????:grinningsingh::grinningsingh::grinningsingh::grinningsingh::grinningsingh:
     
  12. Joginder Singh Foley

    Joginder Singh Foley United Kingdom
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    Its The bugs [Keep your mouth closed and a good set of goggles over your eyes otherwise you will soon find out why]you have to worry about at high speeds not losing your turban properly tied up and the time taken to tie your turban up correcttly and the turban should not part company with the Sikh whatever you are doing



    :blueturban:
     
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  13. Harry Haller

    Harry Haller United Kingdom
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    for the sake of amusment Joginderji, I reproduce funny stories #1

    So my first funny story takes me back to age 26, I was then, a fully keshdhari sardar, and a keen biker. I loved the freedom of not needing a crash helmet, although I got used to fellow bikers shaking their heads at the lack of protection a Pugh was going to offer.

    A few days earlier, on one of the main roads into where I lived at the time, police had removed a rope strung across the road designed to catch an unwary biker, and it had been widely reported in the local press. Riding home that afternoon, the sunny day was suddenly replaced by very hard very fast rain. I hated rain, like my father, I starched my turban, but the trouble was, in the water, it had a tendency to turn into a soggy floury mess.

    The rain was getting harder, so I accelerated past a slow moving car in an effort to get home, when suddenly, as I got back into lane, my cherry red turban parted company with my head, and smashed into the windscreen of the car behind. Of course the dye ran, and stopping and walking towards the car, I noticed the windscreen was covered with red dye, with a red floury soggy mess in the middle,. The elderly occupants, on seeing a pair of legs walking towards them through the haze of cherry red dye, locked the doors and started making the sign of the cross. I could not do much else other than scrape what was left of the turban off the screen, place it on my head, (to be legal), and drive off.
     
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  14. Searching

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    Harry ji
    You have a funny way of telling stories. :grinningsingh:
     
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  15. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    OH Harry Harry..I bet those oldies got the shock of their lives..seeing what must have seemed to be a HEAD stuck on their windscreen..ha ha..really made me laugh..good one ji..:grinningsingh::grinningsingh::grinningsingh::grinningsingh::grinningsingh:
     
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  16. namritanevaeh

    namritanevaeh Canada
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    Good post Findingmyway. I have found some parallels to make between my background (I'm of Scottish descent) and Sikhism. No, we don't all keep our hair (though mine personally is as long as some Sikh women's, easily, despite having cut it as recently as 3.5 yrs ago...it's almost down to my waist), and while Scottish customs these days have more to do with culture than religion, there are some lines you can draw. Male Scots typically would have worn a Kilt (many still do, at least for dressy occasions), which says nothing about covering hair ;-) but still is a specific type of dress. Moreover, most Scots dressed up for a Scottish affair have a small dirk (knife) they carry, not on their waist like a Kirpan but rather in their sock; it is called a "sgian dubh" in Scottish Gaelic (pronounced Skee-ahn-doo) and it is really for ceremonial purposes these days. There are typical games played at Scottish highland games events such as tossing the caber (a giant telephone-pole like hunk of wood ;-)) and shot-putt. I personally like to find ways where there are things in common rather than trying to find differences. :)
     
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