Last week a humor page on Facebook posted a racist meme about a turbaned Sikh ignorantly calling “Muhammad” and “explosive”. The meme read “Nobody at school wants to guard Muhammad, he’s too explosive,” captured when he was playing basketball.
The player in question is, however, Darsh Singh, an American born and bred Punjabi living in Dallas, and, in fact, has created history by becoming the first turbaned Sikh to play NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) basketball.
The meme was not only a personal attack but also reflects how deeply the stereotype of associating bearded men with Islam and linking the religion to terrorism is ingrained in the psyche of a few. But Singh’s friend Greg Worthington didn’t brush the joke aside, he spoke out against what he thought was hateful and wrong. He took to Facebook to share his strongly-worded opinion against the hateful meme about his friend.
“Do the world a favor and educate yourself. Get to know people who are different than you and learn about them as much as you can,” he wrote.
The post went viral and has been shared over 13,000 times. It garnered massive support from the internet community on Facebook and Twitter. Many supporters are posting the same picture (used in the meme) with inspiring messages instead with the #BeLikeDarsh
— Lakhpreet Kaur (@LakhpreetK) December 9, 2015
I want to #BeLikeDarsh because he’s a pioneer for south Asian athletes
— Dhroovaa Khannan (@dhroovaa) December 12, 2015
— Alton Wang (@altonwang) December 9, 2015
— Frances Kai-Hwa Wang (@fkwang) December 11, 2015
To be noted, Darsh Singh’s jersey with ‘TRINITY 32’ written on it, is on display at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the institution is promoting #BeLikeDarsh hashtag on Twitter. He penned down an op-ed in Dallas News writing about the incident. Singh said he brushed aside the meme thinking of it as “coming from place of ignorance rather than hate” but it was Greg’s message that prodded him to notice the severity of the matter.
“It is important to speak up when we witness prejudice. When we don’t, it sends a message that we don’t feel strongly enough about the values of compassion and love as a community,” he wrote.
Singh is now a portfolio manager at Satori Capital and a Truman National Security Fellow.