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Opinion: We project our identity with pride

PUBLISHED: 08:30 12 October 2019

Mankamal Singh, Atam Academy, has always stood out because of his turban.

Mankamal Singh, Atam Academy, has always stood out because of his turban.

Archant

When I was 11 years old, I was on a ferry on a school trip. We decided to play run outs.

Picture a group of 10 boys running around the ferry tactful avoiding teachers but not caring about other passengers. We caused havoc and an announcement was made on the tannoy to stop us running around. But we carried on. As long as we avoided the teachers, we did not care.

Then, an elderly lady grabbed my arm and said "You know, you're a disgrace to your school and to your religion."

Now that last bit bugged me. I was annoyed that she picked me out of all the boys. They were all just as guilty as me of causing havoc.

She singled me out because I wore the Sikh turban.

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It took me some years to understand the meaning of that incident but it remained with me.

I knew from very early on that I stood out and others had an expectation of me. Not because I was Mankamal, but because I represented a Sikh.

Of course, many see representation of faith in a different way and standing out often attracts physical and verbal abuse.

Unfortunately, I have experienced the hate too.

Those of us who overtly project our faith through our physical identity have come to terms with the fact that our actions have a way being amplified because we represent a purpose and commitment.

There is no hiding from it and we continually project our identity with pride.

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