I have a problem with our cultural attitudes. A big problem. And although the problem isn’t a new one I’m still going to write a post about it so bear with me.

Sometimes I feel so out of place when I’m with a bunch of Sikhs. Perhaps it is because I didn’t grow up in a tight-knit Sikh community. Perhaps it was my way of maintaining distance from certain superficial cultural attitudes that I had no intention of perpetuating or adopting. I thought I could be a contributing member of the sangat and simply ignore the nonsense.

Easier said than done.

Earlier this month, Harbhajan Singh, a popular cricket Indian player also known (slightly cheezily) as “The Turbinator,” was accused of making a racist comment towards Andrew Symonds, Australia’s only black player. Although the Australians are currently under investigation by the International Cricket Council for equally not-so-nice remarks towards South Asians and Africans, it wasn’t pleasant to hear someone who identifies himself as a Sikh espouse beliefs inconsistent with Sikh doctrine and see it splashed all over worldwide media.

It’s even harder to contain my expletives when I hear similar crap in person. Especially when it comes from a specific group of highly identifiable aunties gathered in langar halls around North America. They scour the sangat under a cloak of narrowminded beliefs and regurgitate their definition of beauty under hushed tones: that to be ideal is to be fair-skinned (the lighter, the better), tall (above 5’5″ and you’re all set), thin (but body fat percentage doesn’t matter), sharp-nosed (but not too sharp) and have long luscious hair (but don’t you dare have a hair anywhere else). Even L’Oreal, Garnier, and Ponds are aware of the power of auntie-think as they have pushed chemical-laden products that help lighten skin throughout markets in India and the US. How ironic that mega-corporations are looting aunties through their deeply embedded sense of self-hatred and laughing straight to the bank because of it.

I often refer to my thinking (and the thinking of some of you awesome readers) as progressive or revolutionary, but it isn’t, dammit! The ideas of equality, anti-discrimination, and empowerment were outlined by the Gurus not too long ago. What the hell is it going to take to get rid of the hurtful and ridiculous auntie-think that pervades our community? It may take readers like you to make an auntie afflicted with auntie-think aware of her ignorance. [Note: must be done with extreme politeness and respect to be effective. I’ve done it before (and in Punjabi I must add), and she stopped her remarks although I did get a strange look from her as we walked away.] It may take the form of young women speaking up in women’s groups and gatherings. It may be time for our young men to step in and confront their mothers, sisters, and wives. And, oh yeah, don’t purchase the disgusting products like the ones mentioned above.

The cure is in our possession, my friends; are you ready to help administer it?

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