Two black Sikh women fight racism, colorism and casteism

Brianna Sukhmani Kaur and Gurpreet Kaur found that even though Sikhs had started to speak out against discrimination, most had not taken action to address the discrimination within their own community

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Brianna Sukhmani Kaur (left) and Gurpreet Kaur
By Asia Samachar Team | UNITED STATES |

Do Sikhs discriminate black Sikhs? Is there anti-blackness within the community? And what role can Sikhs play as the world is trying to wrap around Black Lives Matter (#BLM)?

Two black Sikh women have come together to take these issues head on. Meet Brianna Sukhmani Kaur and Gurpreet Kaur, co-founders of a grassroots organisation Black Sikh Initiative (BSI).

They have big plans. They intend to empower black Sikh activists, as well as their white and brown allies, to fight against racism, colorism, and casteism within and outside of the Sikh community.

In an email response to Asia Samachar, Gurpreet (Jasmine Morris) said they found that even though Sikhs had started to speak out against discrimination in their different countries of residence, most had not taken action to address the discrimination within their own community.

So, they intend to bring about changes. For one, the movement founded in July 2020 envisions to make Sikh spaces truly welcoming and inclusive for Sikhs of all colors as well as people in general.

They are starting small. For now, they have a presence on the social media. In an entry last month, they had a ‘call to action’ on what books are stacked in your home library. The note asked readers to examine if the books in your library or your children’s library are all written by people from the same cultural background as yourself.

“If so, consider purchasing a book from an author who comes from a different culture then you. By better understanding each other’s perspectives, we can better know how to interact and treat one another,” they urged.

This is just one recent example how they are trying to inject change in the community – one step at a time, one person at a time.

Gurpreet is a writer and activist who is keen to share her perspective as someone not born into the Sikh tradition. She plans on pursuing a “Master of Divinity” after she graduates to pursue a role in ministry. Co-founder Brianna “Sukhmani” Kaur is an activist and health care professional who served in the United States Army as a human resources specialist.

BSI founders were inspired to take action after watching the series of events surrounding the death of George Floyd. The sadness, the anger, and the irritation they felt had turned into motivation to stand up against injustice and discrimination in all its forms and manifestations.

At the time, the two were not in contact with each other. But by fate, the two activists would reconnect on Facebook via Messenger. They then began discussing different issues that they have encountered trying to combat discrimination by other Sikhs in their own experience. And even how in the past they had discussed their experiences on panels, blogs, and websites, only to realise that these same Sikh organisations and personalities were exploiting their stories for likes, comments, and shares.

“To be Black and Sikh means to understand all elements of being a minority. We are a minority within a minority, but that’s what makes us unique and resilient. I am hoping to carve a place for myself in a society that doesn’t recognize my struggles as a Black Sikh woman,” Brianna says in a recent entry.

 

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(Asia Samachar, 23 June 2020)

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |

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