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Hard Talk Bullying, Sikh Children, And Awareness

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Aman Singh, Jul 6, 2016.

  1. Aman Singh

    Aman Singh
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    Admin SPNer

    Jun 1, 2004
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    As I was in an elevator at a hotel last week, a man in the elevator approached my turbaned father as we walked out and asked him if he was a Sikh. After my father answered “yes” the man proceeded to say, “The world needs more Sikhs. Your people are amazing”.


    It’s actually disappointing that I was completely surprised by this man’s comment, as I am used to people simply staring at my father with his turban and beard or whispering to one another as they glance at him. I was stunned and astonished he even knew who Sikhs are and how they look; a lump grew in my throat and I was on the verge of tears of happiness that my community’s hard work on raising awareness has had some impact in this world despite the recent wave of hate.

    However, my next encounter with a little Sikh boy made me realize how much work we still need to do for making children aware of Sikhism.

    A few days after the positive encounter, I ran into a little Sikh boy who was one of my campers from a Sikh youth camp I volunteered at. As I spoke with him, I couldn’t help but think of the pain the boy faces on a daily basis. At the youth camp, the counselors held a session which gave Sikh children the chance to freely ask any questions and seek advice from the counselors, and I was not prepared for what these children were about to tell me.

    There were stories of Sikh boys having their patkas (a version of the turban for young Sikhs) being tampered with and even pulled off, racial slurs being shouted in their faces, slurs about their appearances and turbans, their turbans being compared to unthinkable objects, stories of Sikh girls being humiliated for their long braids and facial hair, and the list went on.

    Although I was aware of the bullying that Sikh children face, it was distressing to hear of the bullying first-hand from the children themselves. Though I also experienced bullying in middle school, I could never imagine what Sikh children with patkas and turbans went through. I tried my best to maintain a positive environment for these children by telling them how Sikhism and their appearance make them unique, stronger, and closer to God. Yet they simply smiled, nodded and my sorrow grew, realizing how deep the problem of bullying is for the Sikh community and as whole.

    When I ran into the little Sikh boy after the positive encounter in the elevator with my father, I recognized and registered that bullying is also a major component of awareness. How to make children aware of diversity, culture, and religion from the beginning of their schooling journeys is crucial for reaching a step toward bullying prevention and even hate crime prevention. We have multiple media platforms that have helped immensely with Sikhism awareness as a whole, yet the community must seek more paths to educate children about the many different cultures of the globe, and this comes with educating both children and the parents. I hope that with awareness and education efforts, less children will be targeted for being “different” and more people will recognize the amazingness of marginalized communities.

    To read more on the bullying children of the Sikh community face, check out The Sikh Coalition’s “Go Home Terrorist” bullying report.

    By Sehej Kaur - University of Southern California International Relations Student and Civil Rights Advocate
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