Open Letter to Sikh Organizations
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As Sikhs, we tell the world that we stand for equality, justice and truth. We ask for solidarity and support from others when we are targeted for how we look. But often we fall short of promoting these very same ideals within our own communities. Recently, Sikh college students volunteering for a conference which aims to recruit more Sikh members were told to “only ask for volunteers who are physically identifiable as Sikhs, because it would be embarrassing for others to represent Sikhi.” We understand that an organization would want to have this type of visibility, because the majority of hate crimes against Sikhs are against those who are ‘physically identifiable Sikhs.’
However, while we understand the intention, we feel that this type of rhetoric and organizational strategy is extremely divisive and problematic. We propound themes of ‘inclusion’ and ‘understanding’ to the outside world, yet we allow these types of statements to be made by internal leaders of our own organizations. As the Sikh youth, we stand against these remarks, and all those who employ similar strategies. Instead of striving for ‘visibility,’ let us instead strive to embody the very ideals of Sikhi. Instead of attempting to tackle hate by conforming to assimilation and model minority narratives, we should stand in power together as a community. In an attempt to defend some of our brothers and sisters, we must ensure that we do not exclude others from our community.
We urge all organizations who have ever used this type of strategy or line of thinking in their recruitment efforts to change course, and listen to the youth of their community. We come from a line of revolutionaries, and leaders who sought to create radical, institutional changes. These types of efforts were not built upon ‘visibility’ or ‘representation,’ but rather were true manifestations of what it means to be Sikh. These leaders and organizations did not operate from a place of fear, but rather power. As a community, let’s stand together and build inclusive and collaborative platforms for our youth. Empower the diversity that exists within our own, so that we can can stand united. If you are a Sikh club or organization that agrees with these sentiments, please sign onto this letter. Additionally, if you are not associated with any organization, but would like to lend your support, please sign. Share with your friends and community members, and help us demand better of our Sikh organizations.
California’s Sikh Youth
- JMC De Anza
- JMC Stan State
- JMC Berkeley
- SSA Santa Clara University
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