Monday, September 26, 2005

Who’s to blame for ignorance?

Yesterday, I was waiting for my daughter’s soccer team to finish with their team pictures, when suddenly a lady approached me with a piece of paper in her hand and asked me a question “Are you Abdul?” which probably was one of the soccer coaches for her kids team. I kindly replied no. Then she presented me with another Middle Eastern sounding name on that paper. I said I have no clue, and then I said “are you asking me all this since I wear a turban?” She walked off and I never got an answer back. She wasn’t rude or anything. How can she just assume that out of 400-500 kids and adults, the guy with a turban should be Abdul or some other Muslim sounding Middle Eastern. I wish I could just lecture her on Sikhism or hand her a flyer that could just show the difference between Sikhs and Muslims.

What gets me is that whom should I blame for all this ignorance among people about different religions or cultures of the world? Do I blame the American school system for not teaching or do I blame the western media for not enough coverage or failure of the government for not caring or the people which just don’t care to learn about other cultures? Why is suddenly there an increase in Islamic studies such as papers, media reports, books, documentaries and analysis etc. in schools and other institutions of this country? Did it have to be 9-11 attacks for this sudden increase? I really don’t have the answer. Even after these attacks, I would say that if a survey were done, more than even half of the country would not even know the difference between a Sikh and Muslim. And that almost all of the people that wear turban in America are non-Muslims and are not from Middle East. What I conclude from this is that Sikhs are left to do more on their own to educate public, be in the media, tell and write their own stories, volunteer themselves out there in normal American life to educate people. I look at the condition of African Americans and Native Americans and other minorities and look at people around me at work and in social life, and I ask, does anybody really care about the poverty level, education or other needs of these people. They are pretty much left on their own to educate themselves, find work and survive. This analogy does not mean that Sikhs are a poor minority, but what I am trying to say is that road is not an easy one for Sikhs either. In order for Sikhs to survive and keep thriving in future, they have to create their own media companies, open their own businesses, create jobs for themselves, support each other in time of need and most importantly keep teaching Sikhism and Gurmukhi to their kids in America on their own.


Blogger Sikhi Seeker said...

I hear ya Sir! And you've just hit the nerve that probably aches in almost every Sikh. Educating the people around you on your own about ur identitiy is good but not enough. We need serious exposure in the right light conducted with proper planning. I keep wondering as to who will take the initiative and how. Until then, I keep doing my small part of imparting information about my identity to those around me:)

p.s.// I should mention, however, that people in Canada, esp. Toronto are much highly aware of multicultural identities. And I can't thank God enough for that!

1:52 PM, September 26, 2005  

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