I have lived in the US since 1989, it will be 23 years next month. Wow! time flies. I still remember my flight into a small town in Iowa a week before my freshmen year started.
Yes, i did not go to high school here and thus cannot relate to the teasing and name calling that happens to so many of our Sikh brothers and sisters in high school.
I can however relate to the same as I had my fair share of name calling in college. Yes, there were days I wanted to fit in. I wanted to not stand out with my patka. I wanted to have a girlfriend just like any other college student. I wanted to be a cool like Rico Suave. Oh! there were days I wish I was not a Sikh.
I have to say that by my sophomore year, most of the people who called me names had attended a class with me or had a common friend. I was cool on campus because I had a BMX and I had skates, that made me as American as the other kid. With every year on campus, I knew more and more people and more of the college kids knew me.
The Persian Gulf war had started and that bought out the worst in some people in Iowa and I did feel it. However, for many a reasons, I stayed with my faith.
I tried my best to fit in. However, I soon realized that I don’t need to fit in. I was not born to fit in. I was born to stand out and be unique and have be alcohol free ever since the few sips that I did have.
I believe it is hard to be a Sikh in USA, especially one that wears a Turban. It takes a lot of will power and dedication to commit yourself to the Sikh faith.
To all my sisters and brothers that wear a Turban everyday, I am proud of you and I get my courage from you as well. Stay on the path.
I love USA, it is here that I can be my true self. The Oak Creek Gurudwara shooting was very hard on our community but we are fighters. We will get up and continue on our journey as Singhs and Kaurs. Be it 84 or now 8/5, we will stay the course and be good Sikhs.
I am also proud of our community for not reciprocating or hurting anyone because of the events this past Sunday. I know there is Anger but I hope you will channel it to improve not only our community but the broader community we are part of.