Friday, June 11, 2004

U.S. Sikhs in the news

There are still many jobs you can't do in the U.S. if you wear a turban and beard. You can't join the army, you can't be a police officer (in most places), and you can't work for Disney, to name just three (Disney still requires its employees to be clean-shaven).

A converted Sikh subway driver named Kevin Harrington was taken off the job a few weeks ago and reassigned to a low-profile position. Also removed from his post was a driver with dreadlocks. They were told their refusal to wear the required MTA caps on the job was the reason. But Harrington made a big stink about it -- he'd been a driver for 23 years, and this was the first time he had ever been bothered about the turban.

The New York Times article speculates that the reason for the reassignment is the lawsuit the MTA is fighting against female Muslim MTA employees, who are suing to be able to wear Hijabs (the article calls the headscarves Khimars) on the job. Uniformity was suddenly important, so all religious apparel needed to be discriminated against equally.

But the MTA backed down, and now Harrington and the unnamed dreadlocked dude are back on the job. Newsday strikes a note of celebration, and alludes to the ongoing cases involving turbaned Sikhs who want to work for the NYPD as traffic cops. I'm hoping that the MTA will also back down (or, at worst, lose its case) regarding the Hijab-wearing Muslim employees.

Also Nikki Randhawa-Haley, of South Carolina, is running for State Legislature as a Republican. She has been doing pretty well, though she's a little behind in the primary race. Typically, this story is only being covered in the Indian media.

It seems like every South Asian running for office in this country is a Republican. Why do I get the feeling that, if I were to suddenly change my party affiliation overnight, there would a be a job waiting for me?


Rob Breymaier said...

This is outrageous. I'm not positive but I think Chicago had official turbans for city employees that were supposed to wear headgear. At any rate all cities or government or companies should be able to do this. I could understand hard hats but other than that it seems ridiculous. The first amendment is too often misunderstood to treat individuals the same as the govt.

11:24 AM  
Anjali Taneja said...

Wow, it's almost 5 am here, and after reading your post, and the last line with the link to Dinesh D'Souza's new line of work, I got myself all fired up about Reagan and about D'Souza, and after an hour or so hammered out a post on (it's too long to comment here) that sums up my feelings about D'Souza the Loozah.

And on Indian-Americans running as Republicans and supporting Republicans -- that makes me quite upset, but fits the idea of Indians coming here, becoming successful, and wanting to be like the wealthy dominating class (rich republicans). It's psychological. I remember going to family friends' gatherings, and sitting there with all the Indian men (the women were often in another room talking about other things), listening in awe as they debated, back and forth, like good Republicans and Democrats. And my dad was routinely one of the few dems debating, and suavely and confidently shot down the republican arguments about everything from foreign affairs to healthcare to race relations (they were often very racist, especially towards "lazy blacks"). We need more Indian-Americans running as dems!

5:00 AM  
Achint Kaur said...

I think you are mistaken about Sikhs now allowed in the U.S. army. My cousins father is the highest rank Sikh in America. He is a colonel and has never cut his hair or trimmed his beard. He is a full practicing Sikh and holds a high position.

11:12 PM  

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