Generation 2 Blues

Last week, an article appeared in the Toronto Star by a young university student, Jasmeet Sidhu. In the article Jasmeet discusses her [is this gender assumptions or what, the name given is only Jasmeet Sidhu and nowhere in the article does it state whether she is male or female, but I am assuming female based on her music tastes]liberation.jpg problems with living the life of a “bicultural suburban teen.” Now this topic is hardly new to the The Langar Hall. In fact in some ways, it has been discussed here in various manifestations many many many times.

Jasmeet’s case seems to follow a similar story. Tired of the what she feels is the hypocrisy of her own community, she is attracted by the lures of greater Canadian society. [An interesting assumption here is that Punjabi-Canadian society can never be considered ‘Canadian’ despite the huge presence, influence, and cross-cultural encounters that have spanned for more than a century.]

For Jasmeet and for many others, the world seems only binaries:

Bhangra or Rihanna? Arranged or “love” marriages?

Although I find the ‘hybrids’ to be the far more interesting story such as those that create and innovate by engaging in cultural amalgamation, I will leave that for another blog post. And rather than rehashing this familiar story, which has been done and will probably continue to be done on a blog such as this that also comes out out of a similar environment, I seek to move this conversation in a different direction.

Jasmeet asks two poignant questions:

How can I claim that I no longer relate to a culture yet still feel entitled to expose its dirty laundry and advocate for change?

How can I simultaneously express my disinterest in Indian culture yet remain deeply invested in it?

In an earlier post, I wrote:

As a community we are maturing, becoming open to questioning, and beginning to challenge existing unjust hierarchies. Many at the forefront are those that are choosing to opt out of the community; I hope that the majority that seek reform and revolution from within will also take up the battle [emphasis added].

Maybe we can now expand on this. I do believe that the greatest change can only be made by those that still identify themselves as part of the community. Those that have chosen to ‘completely opt out’ in someways do lessen the audibility of their voice. This is their choice and there maybe a myriad of reasons that would lead them to make that choice. In fact I am not questioning their individual choice, only discussing ‘effectiveness’ for creating change in the community. Another reason that I believe that their ‘effectiveness’ decreases is because once you ‘opt out’ of the community, many then become extremely iconoclastic and no longer have reverence for any institutions that do hold special place for many others that are ‘insiders’ in the community. This does not mean that those that ‘opt out’ should not speak out or cannot speak out.

However, what I am asking for, is those that do believe themselves wedded to the community to be at the vanguard of social issues. It should be those within the community that are at the forefront of the many issues that Jasmeet and others bring up. Jasmeet’s examples were, “Abuse against women, female subordination, drug and alcohol abuse and communal and racial tension.”

It is when community activists engage and mobilize community icons, symbols, Gurbani, and populations that we will be able to see the change we seek. I hope, I and others will begin to step forward in this process.


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16 Responses to “Generation 2 Blues”

  1. what's in a nam says:

    "but I am assuming female based on her music tastes"

    haaawwww!!! so if I tell you that I like meatloaf's music – what will you assume?!! LOL!

  2. what's in a nam says:

    "Those that have chosen to ‘completely opt out’ in someways do lessen the audibility of their voice."

    Sometimes people 'opt out' because their voice isn't heard. You can only bang your head against a brick wall a certain number of times – after a while it starts to hurt – so you walk away.

    sorry for piecemeal comments – interesting article – still no solutions for dillemas faced by diaspora.

    'Be in it to change it' – is too simple a strategy. Those who are in it – won't want to change it – cos it suits them sir. Those who leave often want change and leave because of those who don't want change.

  3. what's in a name says:

    “but I am assuming female based on her music tastes”

    haaawwww!!! so if I tell you that I like meatloaf’s music – what will you assume?!! LOL!

  4. what's in a name says:

    “Those that have chosen to completely opt out in someways do lessen the audibility of their voice.”

    Sometimes people ‘opt out’ because their voice isn’t heard. You can only bang your head against a brick wall a certain number of times – after a while it starts to hurt – so you walk away.

    sorry for piecemeal comments – interesting article – still no solutions for dillemas faced by diaspora.
    ‘Be in it to change it’ – is too simple a strategy. Those who are in it – won’t want to change it – cos it suits them sir. Those who leave often want change and leave because of those who don’t want change.

  5. Jodha says:

    [quote comment="1330"]haaawwww!!! so if I tell you that I like meatloaf's music – what will you assume?!! LOL![/quote]

    Haha, I will assume you are a gori, since only they eat (or listen) to meatloaf.

  6. virinder khera says:

    Sat nam,

    i had the same problem when growing up in Britain. Some time along the way i saw the best in both east and west cultures and I live in both now. Slightly more biased towards Punjabi b/c of waheguru's blessing for keeping me grounded in Gurbani. In Britain we used to go to church and Gurudwara. The selfless service and love i experienced and gurbani's universal brotherhood helped me to stay grounded in love and not wonder about searching for some golden culture!

    We are all searching, the lucky ones find it earlier then the rest!.

  7. Jodha says:

    [quote comment=”1330″]haaawwww!!! so if I tell you that I like meatloaf’s music – what will you assume?!! LOL![/quote]

    Haha, I will assume you are a gori, since only they eat (or listen) to meatloaf.

  8. virinder khera says:

    Sat nam,
    i had the same problem when growing up in Britain. Some time along the way i saw the best in both east and west cultures and I live in both now. Slightly more biased towards Punjabi b/c of waheguru’s blessing for keeping me grounded in Gurbani. In Britain we used to go to church and Gurudwara. The selfless service and love i experienced and gurbani’s universal brotherhood helped me to stay grounded in love and not wonder about searching for some golden culture!
    We are all searching, the lucky ones find it earlier then the rest!.

  9. what's in a nam says:

    "Haha, I will assume you are a gori, since only they eat (or listen) to meatloaf"

    And why not a gora? there is a point to this – honest – I'll tell you what it is when I've figured it out :)

    but seriously – isn't it okay to adopt the best of both cultures? I like kirtan but I also like listening to mozzart (now what will you assume of me? 😛 ) and I think this is okay. Not just mozzart – I like listening to all sorts of things in all sorts of languages. I think it's okay to expand one's knowledge. Accept what you deem to be in line with Sikhi and ignore or think less of otherwise. That's what I've always tried to do. But I accept that as a teenager / student – one needs to go through the process of questioning and aligning oneself one way or another. I lean towards Sikhi but am open to other things. For some it works the other way around.

  10. what's in a name says:

    “Haha, I will assume you are a gori, since only they eat (or listen) to meatloaf”

    And why not a gora? there is a point to this – honest – I’ll tell you what it is when I’ve figured it out :)

    but seriously – isn’t it okay to adopt the best of both cultures? I like kirtan but I also like listening to mozzart (now what will you assume of me? 😛 ) and I think this is okay. Not just mozzart – I like listening to all sorts of things in all sorts of languages. I think it’s okay to expand one’s knowledge. Accept what you deem to be in line with Sikhi and ignore or think less of otherwise. That’s what I’ve always tried to do. But I accept that as a teenager / student – one needs to go through the process of questioning and aligning oneself one way or another. I lean towards Sikhi but am open to other things. For some it works the other way around.

  11. Zico says:

    I'd tell Jasminder to stop sweating about it. Enjoy the choices you make. In fact, 'washing the dirty linen' in public can be cathartic and ease your way into mainstream society. Take revenge on those you leave behind by stigmatising them further. I mean, it's not like drug and alcohol abuse, racial tensions, and gender disparity are present in 'mainstream' society. No, all those aspects of life are only synonymous with being whatever ethnic group you are from.

    Bad things = Indian.

    Good things = 'Canadian'

    Problem solved.

    Embed this psychosis as deep as possible, And most of all, have fun doing it!

    It's a vision for the future.

  12. Zico says:

    I’d tell Jasminder to stop sweating about it. Enjoy the choices you make. In fact, ‘washing the dirty linen’ in public can be cathartic and ease your way into mainstream society. Take revenge on those you leave behind by stigmatising them further. I mean, it’s not like drug and alcohol abuse, racial tensions, and gender disparity are present in ‘mainstream’ society. No, all those aspects of life are only synonymous with being whatever ethnic group you are from.

    Bad things = Indian.

    Good things = ‘Canadian’

    Problem solved.

    Embed this psychosis as deep as possible, And most of all, have fun doing it!

    It’s a vision for the future.

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