Monday, August 13, 2012

Being Sikh in America

    Monday, August 13, 2012   No comments


DELHI — From 1988 to 1993 I was a graduate student at New York University. Like many nonobservant Sikhs, I did not wear a turban, but I did keep a beard. When I would travel to small-town America, my appearance sometimes gave rise to a barely concealed hostility, occasionally even a comment or two.

I am not claiming that such incidents were the norm, but they were not uncommon.

Once, as I was stepping out of my own apartment in Jersey City with a bag slung over my shoulders, the police pulled out a gun and searched me. On another occasion, camping in North Carolina, I was made to stand in a police car’s high-beams with my hands over my head, again with a gun pointed at me, until the cops saw my white companions.

The years I am talking about precede 9/11 by a decade. As far as I can see, post 9/11, it has become considerably easier to express and act on such prejudices. My point, though, is this: these prejudices have always existed in the United States, and they are not restricted to white supremacists.


Ed Isr

About Ed Isr

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