US Employers: the Turban is un-American and not Sexy [Updated]

nwl-150x100.gifThe Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (better known as SALDEF, and SMART before that) has been vigorously defending a turbaned Sikh man, Sukhbir Channa, who was told by Disney that he would not be hired for a position because he did not have the “Disney look.” Angela Bliss, a spokesperson for Disneyland, explained that, The Disney look is a fresh, clean and approachable look, ensuring that every guest feels comfortable with our entire cast.” Apparently a turbaned Sikh is neither fresh, clean, nor approachable, and makes others uncomfortable. Apparently in a “magical” environment that contains oversized pigs, mice, and other characters, it is a human with a simple religious headdress that is unwelcome. Apparently a major company whose creations are an integral part of practically every American child’s upbringing cannot teach those very children the fundamental values of tolerance, respect, and acceptance in this increasingly diverse and pluralistic nation. Rather than work to alleviate any possible (though not demonstrated) discomfort with a turbaned Sikh, Disney has pandered to and thereby legitimized the notion that turbaned Sikhs are to be marginalized and excluded from aspects of American society. I could go on and on.

This week, I learned that another major company informed a Sikh that a turban should not be worn in the presence of customers.

In this case, the manager of a New York-based National Wholesale Liquidators (NWL) store told a turbaned Sikh female employee to remove her turban because she “would appear sexier without it.” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) brought sexual harassment charges against the discount liquor store chain, and the claims were ultimately settled. The settlement provides that NWL will pay $255,000 to the Sikh and other victims of employment discrimination and will engage in “three years of anti-discrimination training and monitoring for all employees and supervisors at the locations where the manager in the suit has worked[.]”

I don’t know where to begin. The manager’s comments clearly display some ignorance as to the turban being an article of faith for the employee and thus not something that can be just set aside for appearance’s sake. They also demonstrate that Sikh women also are subject to an employer’s expectations that a female employee move towards the stereotypical “attractive” look (whatever that is), that Sikh women are also objectified and that they are viewed as instruments to be used to generate higher sales. The turban, something sacred for Sikhs, has been explicitly placed on a spectrum of attractiveness by others, where Sikhs themselves often struggle with how people will perceive them in the West; for Sikh women, who contend with society’s depictions of what is “hot or not”, this struggle is even more pronounced. At bottom, for a Sikh woman — possibly our mother, wife, or sister — to be treated by an employer in this fashion is appalling.

I have reviewed many EEOC complaints in the past and have found most to be without merit. In this case, however, the EEOC should be commended for safeguarding the rights of this Sikh woman and the other victims of NWL’s discriminatory acts. From the news reports that I’ve read so far, it appears as though the EEOC’s claims were premised on sex discrimination (that the Sikh woman was harassed), not on religious-based discrimination. That is cause for concern — asking someone to remove their turban as a condition of employment is actionable discrimination, as is sexual harassment. But hopefully in the course of the litigation it came to light how significant the turban is to the Sikh employee.

Let’s hope SALDEF and others continue to fight on behalf of aggreived Sikhs and that federal civil rights agencies, such as the EEOC, do their part to protect our people from the discriminatory conduct of American employers.

UPDATE: According to a Sikh Coalition press release, NWL “agreed to make changes to their employment policies and pay money damages to nine victims of harassment,” including the Sikh female. Incidentally, NWL has filed for bankruptcy.


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117 Responses to “US Employers: the Turban is un-American and not Sexy [Updated]”

  1. sizzle says:

    [deleted by Admin Kaur. sizzle, please keep it relevant]

    what were we talking about again? oh. it’s just as tangential and meandering.

  2. sizzle says:

    oh sorry – i can't figure out what to address first. my mind wanders. saw a pigeon.

    two comments, lest i be percieved to be the ever dreadful troll.

    1. publius did raise the most interesting question of this discussion so far (without venturing to offer an opinion) – form over substance aka spirit of the law v. the letter of the law. and tehrein lies the "clash" between Camille and J.Kaur. J.Kaur (and Marine Kaur) seem to be a very, very hard "letter" person. that's fine. i just disagree – the "letter" route emboldens observers to critique all others without ever getting into an actual discussion of any underlying justification or premise – that the "letter" is followed is more than enough to demonstrate any rightness.

    2. reema – good entry little entry near the beginning (if not somewhat patronizing – "I also find it disheartening when keshdari Singhs choose not to wear their turbans"). the motivations of wearing a hat are indeed complex and not as simple as mere laziness or conformity (although i am sometimes lazy). that said, the reactive posts to yours is what i found somewhat disheartening, as i hoped for a good little discussion conversation that might prove insightful. rather, it's like listening to a bunch of fifth graders who, again, cloak themselves not only in the letter of the law, but the self righteousness it affords them as their belief that mere physical appearance, the outwardly symbols, are obviously the most significant in their heirarchy of what it means to be a Sikh.

    time to lower my expectations. again.

  3. sizzle says:

    oh, and it's not that i want to "attack the messenger" and focus behind the message rather than on the message. but, there will be no agreement here between the two sides of this "debate." so, one has to understand why – from what angle are the two sides (or two people) coming? how are people so readily arguing – "you don't follow the rules. the rules define sikh. you are not sikh. nothing you say will change my mind"? well, gotta understand the people.

  4. Publius says:

    sizzle, this is another occasion in which you have gone below the minimal level of civility and respect that is expected on this web site. If you do not care for my posts or comments, I have a very simple solution for you: don't read my posts or comments. If you don't like any posts on this site, I understand there are many other web sites that you can visit, some containing news and views on Sikhi. That said, if you keep visiting this site and my posts in particular, you are assuming the risk — you are already aware that the substance contained herein may not conform to what you expect or want out of a blog. As Obama himself noted, "if you're banging your head against a wall and it hurts, when are you going to stop banging your head against the wall?"

    Since you keep returning, it seems as if you aren't here to contribute or further our mission of creating an open forum for meaningful discussion of Sikh issues, but are here for other, less productive purposes. I find it disappointing that you failed to comment on the original post, to say something positive, instead of waiting for something you disliked to speak up. As to my comment that led to your comment, it clearly was sufficient to provoke a substantive response from JKaur, but it still didn't meet your threshold of interest.

    As Reema notes, if you have something substantive to contribute, please go ahead. Otherwise I think it's best for all if you heed a famous jurist's words — "the most important thing we do is not doing."

  5. Publius says:

    sizzle, if you thought the "form over substance" question was the most interesting of the debate, why not offer something substantive in furtherance of that question? You could then, as part of your post, express your suggestion that I didn't take a direct stance on the question itself.

    Now, if you re-read my comment, I think you will see that the comment notes one overarching thing: if the kaccherha requirement is open to flexibility, then it should be the case that the turban requirement is as well. The end was a rhetorical exercise, asking those who would disagree with me if they are more interested in form over substance.

    Again, while that may not have been clear to you, it was to JKaur.

    Speaking of tangents, this is not the first time where your comments have led to a meta-conversation about whether what's transpired has conformed to your expectations.

    I apologize that I have not met your expectations, but I do think that there are more constructive ways to further the conversation while still getting your point across.

  6. sizzle says:

    Publius –

    Since you keep returning, it seems as if you aren’t here to contribute or further our mission of creating an open forum for meaningful discussion of Sikh issues, but are here for other, less productive purposes.

    mostly, i come to observe, to read, and when i think something is especially noteworthy – i opine. you are writing for the public – you are writing for public consumption. you are writing on a site that has the ability to truly engage people in sophisticated, productive discussion rather than serving as a sounding board for ideologues of every persusasion. often it goes that route, often, as i've ponited out, the manner in which posts are written permit it to go another route, or even PANDER to such frivolity. so, if i critique your writing and the substance of your writing, deal with it. can't deal with it? don't write. think i'm being unfair? delete my comments. or respond. i don't make it a point to harass you, i don't opine on all your comments, on all your posts. only when it's justified. i'm sorry i hurt your feelings.

    as far as civility, i'm putting on my kid gloves. just for you, guy. no more sarcasm from this guy!

  7. J.Kaur says:

    [quote comment="7735"]oh, and it's not that i want to "attack the messenger" and focus behind the message rather than on the message. but, there will be no agreement here between the two sides of this "debate." so, one has to understand why – from what angle are the two sides (or two people) coming? how are people so readily arguing – "you don't follow the rules. the rules define sikh. you are not sikh. nothing you say will change my mind"? well, gotta understand the people.[/quote]

    please forgive my stupidity, but i fail to see how reviewing our code of conduct (for those who have forgotten or do not understand) is the same thing as defining who is sikh and who is not.

    the question that i answered with the "letter of the law" was simple:

    What’s your authority for the proposition that a Sikh man must wear a turban — as opposed to something else — to cover his kes?

    i will try to be more clear in my response. the authority for the proposition that a Sikh must wear a turban – as opposed to something else- is that the Sikh Rehat Maryada (the code of conduct based on Gurmat and compiled by scholars, historians, and religious figures) says we must wear it. historical documents, rehatnamae, and sakhis all support this idea.

    the discussion wasn't about who is a sikh, it was about why some sikhs choose to go against Guru ji's hukam, our history, and our very clear code of conduct and wear something other than a turban.

    honestly, i still have yet to hear a good answer for why some sikhs think they know better than Guru ji and several hundred years of sikh history regarding what to wear on their heads.

    if it makes you feel better to label me as a "letter of the law" person, that's fine with me. in fact, i suppose it's a bit of a complement. but it doesn't answer the original question…

  8. sizzle says:

    i did read your post. you drew an excellent analogy and then proffered this rather than extending the analogy and taking a stance, to which JKaur sort of responded:

    If the only other clothing requirement is flexible in terms of fulfilling the spirit of the requirement rather than the explicit type of kacchehra mentioned, what of the turban? Are people who wear patkas (for sports or whatever) still adhering to the requirement’s spirit (to cover kes)?

    so – i can't call you out for not taking a stance? doing so is not civil? ok.

  9. sizzle says:

    JKaur – a simple question before i respond: if a "sikh" doesn't wear a turban and instead wears a hat, or even cuts his hair, or drinks, or doesn't follow a portion of teh Rehit Marayda, do you consider that person a Sikh? Should that person call themselves a Sikh?

  10. Reema says:

    Sizzle,

    If you have something substantive to contribute, go for it. But really, you sound more like a troll with the level of harassment you’re dishing.

  11. Reema says:

    Sizzle,

    If you have something substantive to contribute, go for it. But really, you sound more like a troll with the level of harassment you’re dishing.

  12. J.Kaur says:

    [quote comment="7742"]JKaur – a simple question before i respond: if a "sikh" doesn't wear a turban and instead wears a hat, or even cuts his hair, or drinks, or doesn't follow a portion of teh Rehit Marayda, do you consider that person a Sikh? Should that person call themselves a Sikh?[/quote]

    it's not my place to label anyone else as sikh or not…

    honestly, i suppose they can call themselves whatever they want. in the same vein, if i feel that their behaviour is making my life as a visible sikh more difficult, i suppose i can call them on it, can't i? :)

    in the end though, my relationship with my Guru is more important than what i think of others or what others think of me.

  13. Camille says:

    J. Kaur, with all due respect, the 1931 Reht included the "May or may not" language. I think it's fine to provide a historical background, but I think re-writing a norm for one subsection of the sangat onto the practices of the sangat as a whole is slightly misleading. We could also easily argue that women predominantly wore the dupata but not the dastar through 1931, hence the option of both alternatives. I think it is limited to see "gender equity" (or equality) as gender same-ness. I respect the right of women to choose between whether or not they wear the dastaar, and I resent the notion that women do not understand or experience unique hardships as Sikhs by virtue of their physical presentation.

    Publius, I definitely know amritdhari Sikhs in the U.S. (younger and older) who wear kachhera. Just saying.

    On the same note, I do think the dastaar is uniquely important and is NOT the same as a baseball cap or patka, and I think it's appropriate to take issue. It's one thing for Monty to wear a patka (i.e., I think it's an appropriate venue to wear a patka, when required, for specific sports/activities). I don't think it's a form over substance requirement because there is agreement on what constitutes a turban (and its many variations).

    The discussion of attire, dress, and its relation to Sikhi is independent of the "who is and is not" a Sikh conversation, and I think it is degrading to the conversation to reduce arguments into a dichotomous framework. There are not many requirements in Sikhi, but I personally believe the uniform/attire of a Sikh is important. Of course, attire without substance, understanding, or any attempt to live the teachings of Sikhi is meaningless. While specific attire is only required of amritdhari Sikhs, I do believe that Sikhi is a faith of progression, and that everyone who identifies as a Sikh also commits to the desire to move forward in their path. For some, that will ultimately include taking amrit and committing to all facets of the faith, but for some, it will fall somewhere along the continuum. As a faith community, we have to figure out how to represent our faith and defend our right to practice while acknowledging that the community, as a whole, is diverse and includes many people at many different levels of practice.

  14. Publius says:

    sizzle, you want to call me out, go ahead; it comes with the territory. Some exist to create, other to criticize. I simply ask you to mind the manner in which you do express your criticism (e.g., the post about "Roy"). Your comments, on more than one occasion, have fallen outside of the expansive bounds of what's considered decent and respectful — the admin of this site appears to agree as well.

    Let's pledge to get along better next time, okay? C'mon, let's hug it out!

  15. sizzle says:

    publius – maybe i've been sarcastic, a smartass and thus disrespectul, but i don't think i've ever been indecent. also, for the record, i create and criticize, or maybe criticize and then create. but yes, let us hug it out and all that.

    jkaur – i'm going to take your answer as a "No, they are not Sikhs and they shouldn't call themselves Sikhs." if that's what you think – cool. i disagree to an extent.

    Camille – a stance! nuance! reasoning! But I disagree a a bit. I'll be back to respond (no time now, super busy, not flaking, good issue worthy of good discussion).

  16. J.Kaur says:

    [quote comment="7744"]J. Kaur, with all due respect, the 1931 Reht included the "May or may not" language. I think it's fine to provide a historical background, but I think re-writing a norm for one subsection of the sangat onto the practices of the sangat as a whole is slightly misleading. We could also easily argue that women predominantly wore the dupata but not the dastar through 1931, hence the option of both alternatives. I think it is limited to see "gender equity" (or equality) as gender same-ness. I respect the right of women to choose between whether or not they wear the dastaar, and I resent the notion that women do not understand or experience unique hardships as Sikhs by virtue of their physical presentation.

    [/quote]

    bhenji, please forgive me for misspeaking my opinion. while i personally feel that the dastaar is an integral part of being sikh, i do not mean that any woman who chooses not to wear one is any less. i was simply stating my opinion and a bit of historical trivia.

  17. J.Kaur says:

    sorry for the poor formatting above…

  18. sizzle says:

    oh sorry – i can’t figure out what to address first. my mind wanders. saw a pigeon.

    two comments, lest i be percieved to be the ever dreadful troll.

    1. publius did raise the most interesting question of this discussion so far (without venturing to offer an opinion) – form over substance aka spirit of the law v. the letter of the law. and tehrein lies the “clash” between Camille and J.Kaur. J.Kaur (and Marine Kaur) seem to be a very, very hard “letter” person. that’s fine. i just disagree – the “letter” route emboldens observers to critique all others without ever getting into an actual discussion of any underlying justification or premise – that the “letter” is followed is more than enough to demonstrate any rightness.

    2. reema – good entry little entry near the beginning (if not somewhat patronizing – “I also find it disheartening when keshdari Singhs choose not to wear their turbans”). the motivations of wearing a hat are indeed complex and not as simple as mere laziness or conformity (although i am sometimes lazy). that said, the reactive posts to yours is what i found somewhat disheartening, as i hoped for a good little discussion conversation that might prove insightful. rather, it’s like listening to a bunch of fifth graders who, again, cloak themselves not only in the letter of the law, but the self righteousness it affords them as their belief that mere physical appearance, the outwardly symbols, are obviously the most significant in their heirarchy of what it means to be a Sikh.

    time to lower my expectations. again.

  19. J.Kaur says:

    [quote comment="7746"]

    jkaur – i'm going to take your answer as a "No, they are not Sikhs and they shouldn't call themselves Sikhs." if that's what you think – cool. i disagree to an extent.

    um… i suppose you are entitled to interpret my statements in any way you like. however, to be fair, i never said any such thing.

    thanks.

  20. sizzle says:

    oh sorry – i can’t figure out what to address first. my mind wanders. saw a pigeon.

    two comments, lest i be percieved to be the ever dreadful troll.

    1. publius did raise the most interesting question of this discussion so far (without venturing to offer an opinion) – form over substance aka spirit of the law v. the letter of the law. and tehrein lies the “clash” between Camille and J.Kaur. J.Kaur (and Marine Kaur) seem to be a very, very hard “letter” person. that’s fine. i just disagree – the “letter” route emboldens observers to critique all others without ever getting into an actual discussion of any underlying justification or premise – that the “letter” is followed is more than enough to demonstrate any rightness.

    2. reema – good entry little entry near the beginning (if not somewhat patronizing – “I also find it disheartening when keshdari Singhs choose not to wear their turbans”). the motivations of wearing a hat are indeed complex and not as simple as mere laziness or conformity (although i am sometimes lazy). that said, the reactive posts to yours is what i found somewhat disheartening, as i hoped for a good little discussion conversation that might prove insightful. rather, it’s like listening to a bunch of fifth graders who, again, cloak themselves not only in the letter of the law, but the self righteousness it affords them as their belief that mere physical appearance, the outwardly symbols, are obviously the most significant in their heirarchy of what it means to be a Sikh.

    time to lower my expectations. again.

  21. sizzle says:

    oh, and it’s not that i want to “attack the messenger” and focus behind the message rather than on the message. but, there will be no agreement here between the two sides of this “debate.” so, one has to understand why – from what angle are the two sides (or two people) coming? how are people so readily arguing – “you don’t follow the rules. the rules define sikh. you are not sikh. nothing you say will change my mind”? well, gotta understand the people.

  22. sizzle says:

    oh, and it’s not that i want to “attack the messenger” and focus behind the message rather than on the message. but, there will be no agreement here between the two sides of this “debate.” so, one has to understand why – from what angle are the two sides (or two people) coming? how are people so readily arguing – “you don’t follow the rules. the rules define sikh. you are not sikh. nothing you say will change my mind”? well, gotta understand the people.

  23. Publius says:

    sizzle, this is another occasion in which you have gone below the minimal level of civility and respect that is expected on this web site. If you do not care for my posts or comments, I have a very simple solution for you: don’t read my posts or comments. If you don’t like any posts on this site, I understand there are many other web sites that you can visit, some containing news and views on Sikhi. That said, if you keep visiting this site and my posts in particular, you are assuming the risk — you are already aware that the substance contained herein may not conform to what you expect or want out of a blog. As Obama himself noted, “if you’re banging your head against a wall and it hurts, when are you going to stop banging your head against the wall?”

    Since you keep returning, it seems as if you aren’t here to contribute or further our mission of creating an open forum for meaningful discussion of Sikh issues, but are here for other, less productive purposes. I find it disappointing that you failed to comment on the original post, to say something positive, instead of waiting for something you disliked to speak up. As to my comment that led to your comment, it clearly was sufficient to provoke a substantive response from JKaur, but it still didn’t meet your threshold of interest.

    As Reema notes, if you have something substantive to contribute, please go ahead. Otherwise I think it’s best for all if you heed a famous jurist’s words — “the most important thing we do is not doing.”

  24. Publius says:

    sizzle, this is another occasion in which you have gone below the minimal level of civility and respect that is expected on this web site. If you do not care for my posts or comments, I have a very simple solution for you: don’t read my posts or comments. If you don’t like any posts on this site, I understand there are many other web sites that you can visit, some containing news and views on Sikhi. That said, if you keep visiting this site and my posts in particular, you are assuming the risk — you are already aware that the substance contained herein may not conform to what you expect or want out of a blog. As Obama himself noted, “if you’re banging your head against a wall and it hurts, when are you going to stop banging your head against the wall?”

    Since you keep returning, it seems as if you aren’t here to contribute or further our mission of creating an open forum for meaningful discussion of Sikh issues, but are here for other, less productive purposes. I find it disappointing that you failed to comment on the original post, to say something positive, instead of waiting for something you disliked to speak up. As to my comment that led to your comment, it clearly was sufficient to provoke a substantive response from JKaur, but it still didn’t meet your threshold of interest.

    As Reema notes, if you have something substantive to contribute, please go ahead. Otherwise I think it’s best for all if you heed a famous jurist’s words — “the most important thing we do is not doing.”

  25. Publius says:

    sizzle, if you thought the “form over substance” question was the most interesting of the debate, why not offer something substantive in furtherance of that question? You could then, as part of your post, express your suggestion that I didn’t take a direct stance on the question itself.

    Now, if you re-read my comment, I think you will see that the comment notes one overarching thing: if the kaccherha requirement is open to flexibility, then it should be the case that the turban requirement is as well. The end was a rhetorical exercise, asking those who would disagree with me if they are more interested in form over substance.

    Again, while that may not have been clear to you, it was to JKaur.

    Speaking of tangents, this is not the first time where your comments have led to a meta-conversation about whether what’s transpired has conformed to your expectations.

    I apologize that I have not met your expectations, but I do think that there are more constructive ways to further the conversation while still getting your point across.

  26. Publius says:

    sizzle, if you thought the “form over substance” question was the most interesting of the debate, why not offer something substantive in furtherance of that question? You could then, as part of your post, express your suggestion that I didn’t take a direct stance on the question itself.

    Now, if you re-read my comment, I think you will see that the comment notes one overarching thing: if the kaccherha requirement is open to flexibility, then it should be the case that the turban requirement is as well. The end was a rhetorical exercise, asking those who would disagree with me if they are more interested in form over substance.

    Again, while that may not have been clear to you, it was to JKaur.

    Speaking of tangents, this is not the first time where your comments have led to a meta-conversation about whether what’s transpired has conformed to your expectations.

    I apologize that I have not met your expectations, but I do think that there are more constructive ways to further the conversation while still getting your point across.

  27. sizzle says:

    Publius –

    Since you keep returning, it seems as if you arent here to contribute or further our mission of creating an open forum for meaningful discussion of Sikh issues, but are here for other, less productive purposes.

    mostly, i come to observe, to read, and when i think something is especially noteworthy – i opine. you are writing for the public – you are writing for public consumption. you are writing on a site that has the ability to truly engage people in sophisticated, productive discussion rather than serving as a sounding board for ideologues of every persusasion. often it goes that route, often, as i’ve ponited out, the manner in which posts are written permit it to go another route, or even PANDER to such frivolity. so, if i critique your writing and the substance of your writing, deal with it. can’t deal with it? don’t write. think i’m being unfair? delete my comments. or respond. i don’t make it a point to harass you, i don’t opine on all your comments, on all your posts. only when it’s justified. i’m sorry i hurt your feelings.

    as far as civility, i’m putting on my kid gloves. just for you, guy. no more sarcasm from this guy!

  28. sizzle says:

    Publius –

    Since you keep returning, it seems as if you arent here to contribute or further our mission of creating an open forum for meaningful discussion of Sikh issues, but are here for other, less productive purposes.

    mostly, i come to observe, to read, and when i think something is especially noteworthy – i opine. you are writing for the public – you are writing for public consumption. you are writing on a site that has the ability to truly engage people in sophisticated, productive discussion rather than serving as a sounding board for ideologues of every persusasion. often it goes that route, often, as i’ve ponited out, the manner in which posts are written permit it to go another route, or even PANDER to such frivolity. so, if i critique your writing and the substance of your writing, deal with it. can’t deal with it? don’t write. think i’m being unfair? delete my comments. or respond. i don’t make it a point to harass you, i don’t opine on all your comments, on all your posts. only when it’s justified. i’m sorry i hurt your feelings.

    as far as civility, i’m putting on my kid gloves. just for you, guy. no more sarcasm from this guy!

  29. J.Kaur says:

    [quote comment=”7735″]oh, and it’s not that i want to “attack the messenger” and focus behind the message rather than on the message. but, there will be no agreement here between the two sides of this “debate.” so, one has to understand why – from what angle are the two sides (or two people) coming? how are people so readily arguing – “you don’t follow the rules. the rules define sikh. you are not sikh. nothing you say will change my mind”? well, gotta understand the people.[/quote]

    please forgive my stupidity, but i fail to see how reviewing our code of conduct (for those who have forgotten or do not understand) is the same thing as defining who is sikh and who is not.

    the question that i answered with the “letter of the law” was simple:

    Whats your authority for the proposition that a Sikh man must wear a turban as opposed to something else to cover his kes?

    i will try to be more clear in my response. the authority for the proposition that a Sikh must wear a turban – as opposed to something else- is that the Sikh Rehat Maryada (the code of conduct based on Gurmat and compiled by scholars, historians, and religious figures) says we must wear it. historical documents, rehatnamae, and sakhis all support this idea.

    the discussion wasn’t about who is a sikh, it was about why some sikhs choose to go against Guru ji’s hukam, our history, and our very clear code of conduct and wear something other than a turban.

    honestly, i still have yet to hear a good answer for why some sikhs think they know better than Guru ji and several hundred years of sikh history regarding what to wear on their heads.

    if it makes you feel better to label me as a “letter of the law” person, that’s fine with me. in fact, i suppose it’s a bit of a complement. but it doesn’t answer the original question…

  30. J.Kaur says:

    [quote comment=”7735″]oh, and it’s not that i want to “attack the messenger” and focus behind the message rather than on the message. but, there will be no agreement here between the two sides of this “debate.” so, one has to understand why – from what angle are the two sides (or two people) coming? how are people so readily arguing – “you don’t follow the rules. the rules define sikh. you are not sikh. nothing you say will change my mind”? well, gotta understand the people.[/quote]

    please forgive my stupidity, but i fail to see how reviewing our code of conduct (for those who have forgotten or do not understand) is the same thing as defining who is sikh and who is not.

    the question that i answered with the “letter of the law” was simple:

    Whats your authority for the proposition that a Sikh man must wear a turban as opposed to something else to cover his kes?

    i will try to be more clear in my response. the authority for the proposition that a Sikh must wear a turban – as opposed to something else- is that the Sikh Rehat Maryada (the code of conduct based on Gurmat and compiled by scholars, historians, and religious figures) says we must wear it. historical documents, rehatnamae, and sakhis all support this idea.

    the discussion wasn’t about who is a sikh, it was about why some sikhs choose to go against Guru ji’s hukam, our history, and our very clear code of conduct and wear something other than a turban.

    honestly, i still have yet to hear a good answer for why some sikhs think they know better than Guru ji and several hundred years of sikh history regarding what to wear on their heads.

    if it makes you feel better to label me as a “letter of the law” person, that’s fine with me. in fact, i suppose it’s a bit of a complement. but it doesn’t answer the original question…

  31. sizzle says:

    i did read your post. you drew an excellent analogy and then proffered this rather than extending the analogy and taking a stance, to which JKaur sort of responded:

    If the only other clothing requirement is flexible in terms of fulfilling the spirit of the requirement rather than the explicit type of kacchehra mentioned, what of the turban? Are people who wear patkas (for sports or whatever) still adhering to the requirements spirit (to cover kes)?

    so – i can’t call you out for not taking a stance? doing so is not civil? ok.

  32. sizzle says:

    i did read your post. you drew an excellent analogy and then proffered this rather than extending the analogy and taking a stance, to which JKaur sort of responded:

    If the only other clothing requirement is flexible in terms of fulfilling the spirit of the requirement rather than the explicit type of kacchehra mentioned, what of the turban? Are people who wear patkas (for sports or whatever) still adhering to the requirements spirit (to cover kes)?

    so – i can’t call you out for not taking a stance? doing so is not civil? ok.

  33. sizzle says:

    JKaur – a simple question before i respond: if a “sikh” doesn’t wear a turban and instead wears a hat, or even cuts his hair, or drinks, or doesn’t follow a portion of teh Rehit Marayda, do you consider that person a Sikh? Should that person call themselves a Sikh?

  34. sizzle says:

    JKaur – a simple question before i respond: if a “sikh” doesn’t wear a turban and instead wears a hat, or even cuts his hair, or drinks, or doesn’t follow a portion of teh Rehit Marayda, do you consider that person a Sikh? Should that person call themselves a Sikh?

  35. J.Kaur says:

    [quote comment=”7742″]JKaur – a simple question before i respond: if a “sikh” doesn’t wear a turban and instead wears a hat, or even cuts his hair, or drinks, or doesn’t follow a portion of teh Rehit Marayda, do you consider that person a Sikh? Should that person call themselves a Sikh?[/quote]

    it’s not my place to label anyone else as sikh or not…

    honestly, i suppose they can call themselves whatever they want. in the same vein, if i feel that their behaviour is making my life as a visible sikh more difficult, i suppose i can call them on it, can’t i? :)

    in the end though, my relationship with my Guru is more important than what i think of others or what others think of me.

  36. J.Kaur says:

    [quote comment=”7742″]JKaur – a simple question before i respond: if a “sikh” doesn’t wear a turban and instead wears a hat, or even cuts his hair, or drinks, or doesn’t follow a portion of teh Rehit Marayda, do you consider that person a Sikh? Should that person call themselves a Sikh?[/quote]

    it’s not my place to label anyone else as sikh or not…

    honestly, i suppose they can call themselves whatever they want. in the same vein, if i feel that their behaviour is making my life as a visible sikh more difficult, i suppose i can call them on it, can’t i? :)

    in the end though, my relationship with my Guru is more important than what i think of others or what others think of me.

  37. Camille says:

    J. Kaur, with all due respect, the 1931 Reht included the “May or may not” language. I think it’s fine to provide a historical background, but I think re-writing a norm for one subsection of the sangat onto the practices of the sangat as a whole is slightly misleading. We could also easily argue that women predominantly wore the dupata but not the dastar through 1931, hence the option of both alternatives. I think it is limited to see “gender equity” (or equality) as gender same-ness. I respect the right of women to choose between whether or not they wear the dastaar, and I resent the notion that women do not understand or experience unique hardships as Sikhs by virtue of their physical presentation.

    Publius, I definitely know amritdhari Sikhs in the U.S. (younger and older) who wear kachhera. Just saying.

    On the same note, I do think the dastaar is uniquely important and is NOT the same as a baseball cap or patka, and I think it’s appropriate to take issue. It’s one thing for Monty to wear a patka (i.e., I think it’s an appropriate venue to wear a patka, when required, for specific sports/activities). I don’t think it’s a form over substance requirement because there is agreement on what constitutes a turban (and its many variations).

    The discussion of attire, dress, and its relation to Sikhi is independent of the “who is and is not” a Sikh conversation, and I think it is degrading to the conversation to reduce arguments into a dichotomous framework. There are not many requirements in Sikhi, but I personally believe the uniform/attire of a Sikh is important. Of course, attire without substance, understanding, or any attempt to live the teachings of Sikhi is meaningless. While specific attire is only required of amritdhari Sikhs, I do believe that Sikhi is a faith of progression, and that everyone who identifies as a Sikh also commits to the desire to move forward in their path. For some, that will ultimately include taking amrit and committing to all facets of the faith, but for some, it will fall somewhere along the continuum. As a faith community, we have to figure out how to represent our faith and defend our right to practice while acknowledging that the community, as a whole, is diverse and includes many people at many different levels of practice.

  38. Camille says:

    J. Kaur, with all due respect, the 1931 Reht included the “May or may not” language. I think it’s fine to provide a historical background, but I think re-writing a norm for one subsection of the sangat onto the practices of the sangat as a whole is slightly misleading. We could also easily argue that women predominantly wore the dupata but not the dastar through 1931, hence the option of both alternatives. I think it is limited to see “gender equity” (or equality) as gender same-ness. I respect the right of women to choose between whether or not they wear the dastaar, and I resent the notion that women do not understand or experience unique hardships as Sikhs by virtue of their physical presentation.

    Publius, I definitely know amritdhari Sikhs in the U.S. (younger and older) who wear kachhera. Just saying.

    On the same note, I do think the dastaar is uniquely important and is NOT the same as a baseball cap or patka, and I think it’s appropriate to take issue. It’s one thing for Monty to wear a patka (i.e., I think it’s an appropriate venue to wear a patka, when required, for specific sports/activities). I don’t think it’s a form over substance requirement because there is agreement on what constitutes a turban (and its many variations).

    The discussion of attire, dress, and its relation to Sikhi is independent of the “who is and is not” a Sikh conversation, and I think it is degrading to the conversation to reduce arguments into a dichotomous framework. There are not many requirements in Sikhi, but I personally believe the uniform/attire of a Sikh is important. Of course, attire without substance, understanding, or any attempt to live the teachings of Sikhi is meaningless. While specific attire is only required of amritdhari Sikhs, I do believe that Sikhi is a faith of progression, and that everyone who identifies as a Sikh also commits to the desire to move forward in their path. For some, that will ultimately include taking amrit and committing to all facets of the faith, but for some, it will fall somewhere along the continuum. As a faith community, we have to figure out how to represent our faith and defend our right to practice while acknowledging that the community, as a whole, is diverse and includes many people at many different levels of practice.

  39. Publius says:

    sizzle, you want to call me out, go ahead; it comes with the territory. Some exist to create, other to criticize. I simply ask you to mind the manner in which you do express your criticism (e.g., the post about “Roy”). Your comments, on more than one occasion, have fallen outside of the expansive bounds of what’s considered decent and respectful — the admin of this site appears to agree as well.

    Let’s pledge to get along better next time, okay? C’mon, let’s hug it out!

  40. sizzle says:

    publius – maybe i’ve been sarcastic, a smartass and thus disrespectul, but i don’t think i’ve ever been indecent. also, for the record, i create and criticize, or maybe criticize and then create. but yes, let us hug it out and all that.

    jkaur – i’m going to take your answer as a “No, they are not Sikhs and they shouldn’t call themselves Sikhs.” if that’s what you think – cool. i disagree to an extent.

    Camille – a stance! nuance! reasoning! But I disagree a a bit. I’ll be back to respond (no time now, super busy, not flaking, good issue worthy of good discussion).

  41. J.Kaur says:

    [quote comment=”7744″]J. Kaur, with all due respect, the 1931 Reht included the “May or may not” language. I think it’s fine to provide a historical background, but I think re-writing a norm for one subsection of the sangat onto the practices of the sangat as a whole is slightly misleading. We could also easily argue that women predominantly wore the dupata but not the dastar through 1931, hence the option of both alternatives. I think it is limited to see “gender equity” (or equality) as gender same-ness. I respect the right of women to choose between whether or not they wear the dastaar, and I resent the notion that women do not understand or experience unique hardships as Sikhs by virtue of their physical presentation.
    [/quote]

    bhenji, please forgive me for misspeaking my opinion. while i personally feel that the dastaar is an integral part of being sikh, i do not mean that any woman who chooses not to wear one is any less. i was simply stating my opinion and a bit of historical trivia.

  42. J.Kaur says:

    [quote comment=”7746″]

    jkaur – i’m going to take your answer as a “No, they are not Sikhs and they shouldn’t call themselves Sikhs.” if that’s what you think – cool. i disagree to an extent.

    um… i suppose you are entitled to interpret my statements in any way you like. however, to be fair, i never said any such thing.

    thanks.

  43. J.Kaur says:

    sorry for the poor formatting above…

  44. J.Kaur says:

    sorry for the poor formatting above…

  45. J.Kaur says:

    [quote comment=”7746″]

    jkaur – i’m going to take your answer as a “No, they are not Sikhs and they shouldn’t call themselves Sikhs.” if that’s what you think – cool. i disagree to an extent.

    um… i suppose you are entitled to interpret my statements in any way you like. however, to be fair, i never said any such thing.

    thanks.

  46. Justasikh says:

    MC Nanak sayeth: It's not what's on the head as much as what's in the head that matters. If it helps whats in the head, great. I don't think he would have judged people on the basis of their headgear

  47. Camille says:

    J. Kaur, no worries — I appreciate the dialogue and apologize if my language was a bit strident. :)

  48. Justasikh says:

    MC Nanak sayeth: It’s not what’s on the head as much as what’s in the head that matters. If it helps whats in the head, great. I don’t think he would have judged people on the basis of their headgear

  49. Justasikh says:

    MC Nanak sayeth: It’s not what’s on the head as much as what’s in the head that matters. If it helps whats in the head, great. I don’t think he would have judged people on the basis of their headgear

  50. Camille says:

    J. Kaur, no worries — I appreciate the dialogue and apologize if my language was a bit strident. :)

  51. Camille says:

    J. Kaur, no worries — I appreciate the dialogue and apologize if my language was a bit strident. :)

  52. sizzle says:

    This post started with a discussion of the workplace and discrimination – specifically, the discrimination felt by turban wearing Sikhs. I just feel the need to share a couple personal anecdotes and my perspective. I am not including certain details to toot my anonymous horn – rather, to offer a concrete background to my experiences and ultimate perspective, experiences and perspective I’ve shared with my younger brother, his friends, fellow Sikhs and other folks I’ve met along the way that might face certain hurdles. I never had a Sikh friend or mentor who could offer guidance, especially on how to navigate the professional world as a Sikh. I’ve since sought them out – hearing their experiences and perspectives has only helped me.

    The summer following my freshman year of college, I was turned down from a sales position despite my relatively strong resume, having led in sales at a former job, and inferior competition for the position (very evident at the initial, group interview). Why? Because I “wouldn’t go over well with customers.” Apparently the president of the company didn’t like beards since numerous studies have demonstrated that men with beards are trusted less than men without beards, and trust is essential for sales. This might have been a somewhat credible explanation, except that it was given by the manager and lead salesman….who was sporting a beard. I read between the lines, walked out, and was infuriated for about three days, even punched a hole through the wall at my house. I considered taking legal action, but in the end, my libertarian tendencies kicked in – as a matter of principle, that small business’s president was free to hire whomever he wished. I could have kicked ass for him, so his loss.

    A few years later, I interviewed for a different job at a similarly small company. The interview was very open, a free exchange of dialogue, and though it’s a huge HR no-no, my interviewer (and eventual boss) ended up discussing our faiths, Judaism and Sikhism, and our experiences in an incredibly open manner. Though I got the job, the interview was devastating for one reason – he told me that had I been interviewing for a different position, one that required interaction with members of the general public, he wouldn’t have hired me, preferring to hire someone a less qualified but “average American” rather than gamble on the public’s reaction to my exotic appearance. More than anything, I appreciated his blunt and genuine honesty. It was a reality check that stuck with me for years, an indication of an element inherent in the profession I strived to enter. His lack of confidence in my ability to win over strangers became a huge chip on my shoulder and, over the last few years, has pushed me harder than almost anything else. I’ve not only succeeded where he thought I’d never, I’ve excelled beyond many of my “average American” peers. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel nagging doubt about whether someone like him would give me the chance to prove my equality, or even my superiority.

    These doubts were only proven. Enrolled and soon graduating from professional school with a strong resume and transcript, I was confronted with the reality of the professional interview – where grades and a resume speak for themselves and interviewers are looking for good “fits,” people with whom they’d like to work. In twenty minutes, one has to demonstrate why they’re a better fit than most of the 39 other people being interviewed that day. My finely tuned perception of when I’m being accepted and when merely being tolerated (finely tuned over the course of a lifetime exposed to racism and xenophobia), didn’t bolster my confidence in some of those interviews. Whether it was the hard blink and brief stare when I walked into the room, or painfully awkward conversation, on more than a few occasions I felt the need to prove my normalcy with references to pop culture and recreation. Sometimes I just tried to be funny. I had to proactively win the benefit of the doubt. In the end, despite strong credentials, strong interviewing skills and sociability that had won over and earned respect among many of my classmates, I received fewer offers than peers who, quite frankly, weren’t as qualified and weren’t as personable. I was disappointed and had no doubt what had come into play. A blunt conversation with a career counselor with many of experience only confirmed my suspicions. Once again, a jolting reality check.

    All of this said, I’ve been fortunate enough to have options – my livelihood didn’t depend on that summer sales position, I didn’t apply to that hypothetical job I was assuredly, and despite my interviewing roadblocks, I landed a fantastic job. I wonder if I’d have the same libertarian leanings, the belief that small businesses can hire and fire whomever they’d like, if, for being a Sikh, I were ever denied a job I desperately needed. I also see the inherent contradiction in believing that small businesses may discriminate at will, while believing larger companies and corporations should be held liable when they discriminate. But those are tangential and larger, social discussions. As Sikhs living in western nations where many of our fellow citizens, including our bosses, colleagues and interviewers and supervisors, are ignorant or hostile, we have to take the right approach. I think, and it is very simple and cliché, that must merely be the best that we can be. We must fight to good fight. And we must hold ourselves to a higher standard, lest we give anyone an excuse to treat us in a discriminate manner. That’s it. When we face sh*t, we have to punch back. No, it’s not fair that we have to do more than our neighbors. No, it won’t change the world over night. But no, we also aren’t the only people who face rampant discrimination – just ask blacks, Hispanics, and other Asians. Women too have a certain set of hurdles. What we, as Sikhs, face in today’s working environment, with its many legal protections and corporate aura of political correctness, is a cakewalk in comparison to the obstacles and roadblocks that blacks faced half a generation ago. And next Tuesday, we’re about to elect a black president who has written extensively about never succumbing to a mentality of blame or victimhood, but beating the system at its own game, that whenever he was knocked down a notch, only became more intent to climb up two. Now we’re on the verge of something that makes me giddy in anticipation, not for the man, but for what his ascension represents.

    The examples mentioned in this post, the musician at Disney and Sikh woman who was harassed for being both a Sikh and a woman, are examples of when things go wrong in the working world. Beyond that, via the emails of SALDEF and Sikh Coalition and the posts on this blog, we are bombarded with examples of horrible acts of discrimination in settings that range from the school yard, the lumber yard, to the front yard. And often we, me included, dwell on all that is wrong in the world. And we get angry. And feel a deep sense of injustice that often evolves into a sense of victimhood that can be incredibly self–defeating. But for every example of when things go wrong, there are countless others of success. We can note the bad experiences, we can make them a rallying call for awareness, and we can hold the employers and bullies accountable through official means and the legal system – we can and should punch back.

    But, what motivated me to write all this was the closing line of the original post, after a discussion of relatively isolated incidents, which states that we should rely on the government and others, “protect our people from the discriminatory conduct of American employers.” Read it again – it conveys a sense victimhood, of needing protection, while broadly using “the” to label and construe any or all “American employers” as discriminatory. Even if it was not the intention of the writer, the sentence conveys a negative, whiny sentiment, especially as conclusion to a post with such subject matter. And it just seriously, seriously irks me because even if it didn’t mean to convey such a sentiment in this particular instance, it is a sentiment I’ve heard from many Sikhs and other minority groups. So Publius – I hope that the background and perspective I offered permits me the legitimacy to criticize, while also creating…a long post.

  53. sizzle says:

    This post started with a discussion of the workplace and discrimination specifically, the discrimination felt by turban wearing Sikhs. I just feel the need to share a couple personal anecdotes and my perspective. I am not including certain details to toot my anonymous horn rather, to offer a concrete background to my experiences and ultimate perspective, experiences and perspective Ive shared with my younger brother, his friends, fellow Sikhs and other folks Ive met along the way that might face certain hurdles. I never had a Sikh friend or mentor who could offer guidance, especially on how to navigate the professional world as a Sikh. Ive since sought them out – hearing their experiences and perspectives has only helped me.

    The summer following my freshman year of college, I was turned down from a sales position despite my relatively strong resume, having led in sales at a former job, and inferior competition for the position (very evident at the initial, group interview). Why? Because I wouldnt go over well with customers. Apparently the president of the company didnt like beards since numerous studies have demonstrated that men with beards are trusted less than men without beards, and trust is essential for sales. This might have been a somewhat credible explanation, except that it was given by the manager and lead salesman.who was sporting a beard. I read between the lines, walked out, and was infuriated for about three days, even punched a hole through the wall at my house. I considered taking legal action, but in the end, my libertarian tendencies kicked in as a matter of principle, that small businesss president was free to hire whomever he wished. I could have kicked ass for him, so his loss.

    A few years later, I interviewed for a different job at a similarly small company. The interview was very open, a free exchange of dialogue, and though its a huge HR no-no, my interviewer (and eventual boss) ended up discussing our faiths, Judaism and Sikhism, and our experiences in an incredibly open manner. Though I got the job, the interview was devastating for one reason he told me that had I been interviewing for a different position, one that required interaction with members of the general public, he wouldnt have hired me, preferring to hire someone a less qualified but average American rather than gamble on the publics reaction to my exotic appearance. More than anything, I appreciated his blunt and genuine honesty. It was a reality check that stuck with me for years, an indication of an element inherent in the profession I strived to enter. His lack of confidence in my ability to win over strangers became a huge chip on my shoulder and, over the last few years, has pushed me harder than almost anything else. Ive not only succeeded where he thought Id never, Ive excelled beyond many of my average American peers. Yet, I couldnt help but feel nagging doubt about whether someone like him would give me the chance to prove my equality, or even my superiority.

    These doubts were only proven. Enrolled and soon graduating from professional school with a strong resume and transcript, I was confronted with the reality of the professional interview where grades and a resume speak for themselves and interviewers are looking for good fits, people with whom theyd like to work. In twenty minutes, one has to demonstrate why theyre a better fit than most of the 39 other people being interviewed that day. My finely tuned perception of when Im being accepted and when merely being tolerated (finely tuned over the course of a lifetime exposed to racism and xenophobia), didnt bolster my confidence in some of those interviews. Whether it was the hard blink and brief stare when I walked into the room, or painfully awkward conversation, on more than a few occasions I felt the need to prove my normalcy with references to pop culture and recreation. Sometimes I just tried to be funny. I had to proactively win the benefit of the doubt. In the end, despite strong credentials, strong interviewing skills and sociability that had won over and earned respect among many of my classmates, I received fewer offers than peers who, quite frankly, werent as qualified and werent as personable. I was disappointed and had no doubt what had come into play. A blunt conversation with a career counselor with many of experience only confirmed my suspicions. Once again, a jolting reality check.

    All of this said, Ive been fortunate enough to have options my livelihood didnt depend on that summer sales position, I didnt apply to that hypothetical job I was assuredly, and despite my interviewing roadblocks, I landed a fantastic job. I wonder if Id have the same libertarian leanings, the belief that small businesses can hire and fire whomever theyd like, if, for being a Sikh, I were ever denied a job I desperately needed. I also see the inherent contradiction in believing that small businesses may discriminate at will, while believing larger companies and corporations should be held liable when they discriminate. But those are tangential and larger, social discussions. As Sikhs living in western nations where many of our fellow citizens, including our bosses, colleagues and interviewers and supervisors, are ignorant or hostile, we have to take the right approach. I think, and it is very simple and clich, that must merely be the best that we can be. We must fight to good fight. And we must hold ourselves to a higher standard, lest we give anyone an excuse to treat us in a discriminate manner. Thats it. When we face sh*t, we have to punch back. No, its not fair that we have to do more than our neighbors. No, it wont change the world over night. But no, we also arent the only people who face rampant discrimination just ask blacks, Hispanics, and other Asians. Women too have a certain set of hurdles. What we, as Sikhs, face in todays working environment, with its many legal protections and corporate aura of political correctness, is a cakewalk in comparison to the obstacles and roadblocks that blacks faced half a generation ago. And next Tuesday, were about to elect a black president who has written extensively about never succumbing to a mentality of blame or victimhood, but beating the system at its own game, that whenever he was knocked down a notch, only became more intent to climb up two. Now were on the verge of something that makes me giddy in anticipation, not for the man, but for what his ascension represents.

    The examples mentioned in this post, the musician at Disney and Sikh woman who was harassed for being both a Sikh and a woman, are examples of when things go wrong in the working world. Beyond that, via the emails of SALDEF and Sikh Coalition and the posts on this blog, we are bombarded with examples of horrible acts of discrimination in settings that range from the school yard, the lumber yard, to the front yard. And often we, me included, dwell on all that is wrong in the world. And we get angry. And feel a deep sense of injustice that often evolves into a sense of victimhood that can be incredibly selfdefeating. But for every example of when things go wrong, there are countless others of success. We can note the bad experiences, we can make them a rallying call for awareness, and we can hold the employers and bullies accountable through official means and the legal system we can and should punch back.

    But, what motivated me to write all this was the closing line of the original post, after a discussion of relatively isolated incidents, which states that we should rely on the government and others, protect our people from the discriminatory conduct of American employers. Read it again – it conveys a sense victimhood, of needing protection, while broadly using the to label and construe any or all American employers as discriminatory. Even if it was not the intention of the writer, the sentence conveys a negative, whiny sentiment, especially as conclusion to a post with such subject matter. And it just seriously, seriously irks me because even if it didnt mean to convey such a sentiment in this particular instance, it is a sentiment Ive heard from many Sikhs and other minority groups. So Publius I hope that the background and perspective I offered permits me the legitimacy to criticize, while also creating…a long post.

  54. sizzle says:

    Just had a chance to reread what I wrote immediately above. Pardon the typos – was written quickly when exhausted.

    I may have overstated my point in the final paragraph. I think we must be reliant on the protections of organizations and government entities and utilize their assistance when available. But that said, they are not a be all end all – which is the basic message I pulled from this post. The most prevalent forms of discrimination in the workplace, especially the professional world, are subtle and not obvious or substantiated enough to warrant complaints upon which organizations can act. It is then that we must hold up our heads and fight on without getting caught up in the plight itself. For every one case that might spur SALDEF and EEOC involvement, there are dozens of others where a Sikh can rely only on him/herself to reach the next stage. Such individual struggles and the personal lessons (and hopefully strength) they bestow only make individuals and our community stronger. This is no different than any other group’s struggle throughout American history, and that self reliance underpins their ultimate success. Pardon if I sound preachy – but I don’t really see this message conveyed very often, and it must compliment the sentiment conveyed above.

  55. sizzle says:

    Just had a chance to reread what I wrote immediately above. Pardon the typos was written quickly when exhausted.

    I may have overstated my point in the final paragraph. I think we must be reliant on the protections of organizations and government entities and utilize their assistance when available. But that said, they are not a be all end all which is the basic message I pulled from this post. The most prevalent forms of discrimination in the workplace, especially the professional world, are subtle and not obvious or substantiated enough to warrant complaints upon which organizations can act. It is then that we must hold up our heads and fight on without getting caught up in the plight itself. For every one case that might spur SALDEF and EEOC involvement, there are dozens of others where a Sikh can rely only on him/herself to reach the next stage. Such individual struggles and the personal lessons (and hopefully strength) they bestow only make individuals and our community stronger. This is no different than any other groups struggle throughout American history, and that self reliance underpins their ultimate success. Pardon if I sound preachy but I dont really see this message conveyed very often, and it must compliment the sentiment conveyed above.

  56. Publius says:

    sizzle, thanks for your last two comments, and please accept my apologies for my delayed response.

    A couple thoughts: first, it wasn't my intention to portray Sikhs as a victimized community, one that is vulnerable and unable to fend for itself, which is why I used the word "fight" in describing what Sikhs should do in the face of discrimination. (Of course, federal agencies are duty-bound to play their role in enforcing applicable civil rights statutory and regulatory provisions.)

    Second, you are right that relying on federal agencies or the courts of law is not sufficient for purposes of addressing discrimination against Sikhs. There is good literature out there arguing that preventative measures, such as community outreach, are a more viable "solution" to discrimination — indeed, using the courts may take significant time and the legal outcome may not be satisfactory. So I agree that Sikhs bear their own responsibility to proactively address discrimination, rather than wait until an incident occurs and then ask for third-parties to vindicate our rights.

    That said, I very much enjoyed reading your last two comments and hope we can continue in that spirit going forward. We are on the same side.

  57. Publius says:

    sizzle, thanks for your last two comments, and please accept my apologies for my delayed response.

    A couple thoughts: first, it wasn’t my intention to portray Sikhs as a victimized community, one that is vulnerable and unable to fend for itself, which is why I used the word “fight” in describing what Sikhs should do in the face of discrimination. (Of course, federal agencies are duty-bound to play their role in enforcing applicable civil rights statutory and regulatory provisions.)

    Second, you are right that relying on federal agencies or the courts of law is not sufficient for purposes of addressing discrimination against Sikhs. There is good literature out there arguing that preventative measures, such as community outreach, are a more viable “solution” to discrimination — indeed, using the courts may take significant time and the legal outcome may not be satisfactory. So I agree that Sikhs bear their own responsibility to proactively address discrimination, rather than wait until an incident occurs and then ask for third-parties to vindicate our rights.

    That said, I very much enjoyed reading your last two comments and hope we can continue in that spirit going forward. We are on the same side.

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