Good Sports: HE’S DARSH, NOT MUHAMMAD
Darsh Preet Singh played basketball for Trinity University from 2004 to 2008, becoming the first turban-wearing Sikh to play in the NCAA. The Smithsonian Institute recently displayed the No. 32 jersey of the six-foot-four player in its “Beyond Bollywood” exhibit, which showcased contributions of Indian-Americans.
But Singh’s image was tarnished on social media when a photo of him dribbling the basketball went viral, accompanied by a Twitter user’s distasteful joke: “Nobody at school wants to guard Muhammad, he’s too explosive.”
Thankfully, a Facebook response to the joke, from a friend of Singh’s named Greg Worthington, has also gone viral. “I know this guy and his name’s not ‘Muhammad.’ He’s not Arab, he’s Punjabi. He’s not even Muslim, he’s a Sikh,” writes Worthington, a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin.
“His name is Darsh Singh and he’s a US citizen, born and bred. … He was co-captain of [Trinity University basketball team] when he played there. He’s worked in US Intelligence with the National Security Agency in the past and currently manages financial portfolios and hedge funds for some of the most compassionate companies in the US. Above all those things, he’s a really nice guy, very funny, and he’s a great friend of my younger brother whom I was more than happy to befriend myself.
“People need to understand, this stuff hurts people. You might think it’s funny but that’s mainly because you don’t know the guy. Perhaps if you did, then you would see this differently.
But even if I didn’t know Darsh, I still wouldn’t think this was funny. Why? Because things like this pic teach people to be afraid of those who are different than you. What you might not know is that Sikhs have a history in the US and abroad of being mistaken for being Muslim and thus being accused of terrorism. This usually leads to them being attacked and even killed because someone stupid thought they deserved to be beaten, injured, or killed because of their religion.
But even if he was a Muslim or if he was Arab, this still doesn’t make the joke okay and it still doesn’t give you reason to believe that person is inherently evil or that they deserve harm. 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.”
Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
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