Sikhism in America

If you’d like to earn some extra credit, watch the May 6 episode of CNN’s United Shades of America, which will focus on Sikhism and Sikhs in America. Add a comment, question, or other insight about the show here, and we can discuss it in class next week.


6 thoughts on “Sikhism in America

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  1. I thought it was a good show showcasing a lot of normal, hard-working people and their expressions of the faith they were born into. It was interesting for me to see how they did so in a western country since my experience with Sikhism is very Indian. To see that there are a lot of similarities in their approach to life here and in India only tells me that they’re really committed to being Sikh and embrace it in every way they can.


  2. I would say that the show offers a decent brief introduction about Sikhism and the challenges that American Sikhism followers are facing. One of the challenges that draws my attention is the statement “The Sikh faith is not misunderstood — it’s often not understood at all.” A short part of the show shows that a Sikh boy says even though he was bullied he still felt lucky as being a Sikh. I would say that him being bullied may not completely due to his religion, but if the reason that he is bullied is largely due to his religion, people are not knowing Sikhism at all can be one of the important factors. Since people do not know what do his unshorn hair and turban mean for him, some of people may offend him unintentionally. The situation of a Sikh boy being bullied can be deemed as an epitome of many other conflicts among different groups that due to they do not understand each other or they misunderstand each other. Hence, I think it is great that Bell points it out.

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  3. This is going to sound really sad, but I don’t think that before this show I had ever heard of Sikhism more than that one word. I had no idea what Sikhism was, was never taught about it (or really any religion), and a few years ago I didn’t have much drive to learn about religions I had no idea existed so I didn’t seek it out on my own. Therefore with my very limited knowledge, I’d have to say Bell creates a great introduction to the Sikh religion, and more importantly, brings it to the present world. I thought it was marvelous how he focused on modern Sikhs, and their influence, and I think it was even more important to bring up people we could have recognized and bringing into light their heritage. What’s interesting is I’ve read Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, I watched a friend present on her and I don’t think Sikhism was mentioned either. The person Bell talked to that really struck me was the actor Waris Ahluwalia, he’s in too many movie that I have at least partially seen and loved, and yet I never knew he was a Sikh (which is really disappointing on my end). That’s partially why I really appreciated Bell’s show, it was people I was already familiar with, who I didn’t know were Sikh, and Bell talked and presented their stories in really normal, kind fashions.

    The other thing I really liked about the show was the way Bell put together his show to emphasize Sikhism being a religion of love and equity. For example, I really appreciated how Bell brought up, and asked about, the norm that men wear turbans more than women, and even asking the people he was interviewing their thoughts on the matter before coming up with his own assumptions. By bringing up some apparent “controversies,” he helped strengthen his argument on Sikhism being a religion of love. Additionally, by not questioning the female Sikh fighter about “oh so females can fight, have they always,” he normalized the equity he presented ingrained in the Sikh religion. These tactics, in my opinion, helped keep the view of Sikhism more American, and more relateable to people as well, and by making light humor along with it and showing how easy going the Sikh were, I’d be surprised if someone wasn’t convinced on Sikhism being the religion of love.


  4. I really enjoyed watching this show. I honestly haven’t learned about Sikhism before watching this episode. I really liked how they made it seem that sikhism was the same as any other religious group in the US while still showing its unique qualities. One of the things that really stood out to me was the discussion of the killing of Sikh people because some Americans believed they were Muslim after 9/11. It really pointed out to me the racism that is prevalent in the US and the stereotypes that are associated with people who look ‘foreign’. It was also very interesting that all of the Sikh people interviewed in this episode were so forgiving and peaceful when discussing these issues, nobody was getting very angry. I am curious if this was because of the subject matter surrounding being associated with 9/11 or if it was their true beliefs, or a little bit of both.


  5. I enjoyed watching this show. I think that Bell did a great job in giving an introduction to what Sikhism is, especially with regards to Sikhism in modernity. I also think that Bell’s approach was quite fitting. Bell’s ability to add levity to things, while still understanding the depth of things, was good. I thought it was really interesting how Sikhism maintains a commitment to love and peace, and combating injustice simultaneously; how that is manifested nowadays. The interview with Lt. Colonel Kalsi was interesting, in part, for this reason.

    As someone who comes from a Sikh family background, it was also interesting to see the lives of other Sikhs in America as well. I noticed a lot of similarities between the Sikh communities in south east Wisconsin and those in California.


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