Discrimination still exists and the racist posters that surfaced across the University of Alberta campus this week were a reminder of that fact. The posters featured a picture of a Sikh man and disparaging captions targeting Sikh values. As a turban-wearing Sikh, the hatred and ignorance that motivates such material is very close to home for me and the broader Sikh community.
Simply put, sports has a way of connecting people. When you throw on your team colours, you're no longer a Sikh, Jew, Christian, White, or Black. You're simply a fan. And the only thing that matters in that moment is realizing the dream of seeing your team lift up the trophy one day and host a parade on your home streets.
I remember so distinctly staring around at the room of Toronto Star editors and the people around me, including my own fellow interns, and I remember the exact moment of realizing that everyone in that room, except me, was white. I often believe its all too easy when you exist as a member of the "other," like a minority community like ours, for someone to cling to the idea of being the "first one," the "only one" and achieve what they can in the world for themselves and then go home with the pride of that recognition and nothing else. What if instead of believing there are limited seats to the table, we all chose to add more chairs?
I began to question religion at a very young age. I suppose my early interest in science and constant observations of the mistreatment of women in Hinduism and Indian culture played a large role. Thankfully, I was raised by an intelligent, progressive woman who welcomed and encouraged my critical thought. Even as I started to question religion in general and mine in particular, I continued to celebrate Diwali. It seems to be the one day of the year where the whole country puts aside its trivial differences, lights up, and celebrates together as one. That's a holiday that even the most crotchety atheists, this one included, can celebrate.