On my way back home, as I pondered over our interaction, I thought of another recent incident. But, before I get into that (and, you must be wondering, why Santa?), here is what I look like [Top photo on the right].
The only difference: I was wearing a red turban and shirt on that day. As you can see, I still have a black beard. So, I don’t think I really look like Santa! But, at least, the kid thought so.
Going back to the other incident. Here is what recently happened with a fellow Sikh-American. Cartoonist Vishavjit Singh was featured in a Facebook Tips video that showed up randomly in people’s feeds. It immediately attracted a barrage of ignorant comments from bigots and racists who didn’t care about the content of the video or what Vishavjit was saying. These trolls instead chose to attack him based on what he looked like!
That is, because of his turban and beard.
Now, compare the above treatment with my being called a ‘Santa’ – a legendary, saintly and fatherly figure that represents Christmas in many ways and forms!
Isn’t that good? Hell, yeah!
Photo credit – littlesikhs.com
Christmas! What a wonderful time – isn’t it? Holidays, Family, Food, Gifts – enough reasons to love it! Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, or get gifts, who doesn’t like festivities?
Yesterday, I went to my daughter’s school and a cute little kid told me – “You look like Santa!” “Is that good or bad?” I asked. “I don’t know”, he said in all his innocence. On my way back home, I pondered about our interaction and a recent incident came to light. But, before I get into that (and, you must be wondering why Santa?), here is what I look like.
The only difference, I was wearing a Red turban and shirt today. As you can see, I still have black beard. So, I don’t think I really look like Santa! But, at least, the kid thought so.
Going back to the incident. Here is what recently happened with a fellow Sikh who was featured in a Facebook Ad. Vishvajit Singh was featured in a Facebook Tips video that showed up randomly in people’s feeds. You can watch the video at the end of this article. Below is a sample of comments he got from bigots who didn’t care about content of the video or what he was saying. These trolls rather chose to attack him based on what he looks like!
Now, compare the above treatment with being called a ‘Santa’ – a legendary, saintly and fatherly figure that represents Christmas in many ways and forms! Isn’t that good? Hell, yeah!
What happened to Vishvajit Singh is nothing new. Sikhs have been targets of hatred and bigotry not just in US but also in their home country (India). This has happened not only once or recently, but throughout our 500+ years of history. But, the point I want to make is not about unwarranted hatred against Sikhs and other communities. We have all read and listened to it many times and it will sound like another rhetoric.
Rather, I simply want to put forward something that I believe is quite strange. Come Christmas time, every parent is ready to hand over their kids to a stranger dressed up as Santa – overly sized costume complete with long beard, moustache and headgear. Well, often, these costumes are smelly, hands are dirty, and conditions are not really the most hygienic. Add to it the fact that some of these Santas don’t even go through background checks!
Now, how many other occasions can you recall where parents would willfully hand over their kids to a stranger, or to emphasize, a ‘person’ with above description sans Santa costume? Yes, that stranger could be me, who this cute little kid called Santa! And, like me, many others who don’t look like so called “Typical American”, the way bigots and hate mongers describe it – White, European, and so on… And, us Santas, exist all year around. We don’t do it for money, though. It is part of our daily life – it is our faith!
Now, bear in mind, I do not intend to spoil the holiday mood or mean to say that anyone should stop posing with Santa! I take my kids to mall to pose with Santa. They actually took pictures yesterday with local Santa on the fire truck. I also do not intend to discount one of the biggest virtues of America – acceptance of all faiths, cultures and races, which most Americans embrace.
I just want to point out double standards of bigots (like the ones who posted comments on Vishvajit’s Ad), who in no way represent the spirit of America! Most racists and bigots don’t have the courage to say such things face-to-face, so they use the Internet. Nevertheless, they feel the same way and would never allow “Year-Around Santas” to even come close to their kids. The funny thing, though, they are out there today clicking pictures of their kids with someone, whom on another day, they might call ISIS or Taliban!
Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!
Here’s Vishvajit Singh’s Facebook Tips Video
Also, published on Medium – https://medium.com/@jasmeetio/santa-for-a-day-isis-for-the-rest-c7e9a4f501ab