Tag Archives: multiculturalism

‘The Sikh Pioneers of North America’: The Punjabi-Mexican Americans of California

By Guest Contributor Ay-leen The Peacemaker, cross-posted from Beyond Victoriana

In California at the turn of the 20th century, a community grew in southern California with an interesting history: Punjabi-Mexican families of the Imperial Valley. This unique community stemmed from the effects of British colonialism, transnational labor immigration & American economic opportunity (and American anti-Asian discrimination laws). Many multi-generational families in the area today can trace their multicultural and multiethnic histories back over a hundred years, and refer to themselves as “Mexican Hindus”, “Hindu” or “East Indian” today.

During the 19th century, many Punjabi families sent their sons abroad to earn a living outside the British Raj; most of these sons had served as part of the British army and police force in China. Eventually, these men saved enough for passage to America to work in manufacturing, lumber, or agriculture, with a majority of this immigration happening between 1900 and 1917. These bands of travelling workers were known in America as “Hindu crews.” Others from the middle to upper-middle classes sough educational opportunities in American universities. These Punjabi immigrants typically entered America through Angel Island, the entry point for overseas immigration on the US West Coast. According to Professor Karen Leonard, “Some 85 percent of the men who came during those years were Sikhs, 13 percent were Muslims, and only 2 percent were really Hindus.”

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Canada is multicultural, not antiracist

By Guest Contributor Restructure!, originally posted at Restructure!

Canada is an officially multicultural country, but multiculturalism does not address racism.

The Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist Multicultural Institution shows six stages from being a monocultural institution to becoming an anti-racist multicultural institution. Canada appears to be at Stage Three:

3. Symbolic Change: A Multicultural Institution

  • Makes official policy pronouncements regarding Multicultural diversity
  • Sees itself as “non-racist” institution with open doors to People of Color
  • Carries out intentional inclusiveness efforts, recruiting “someone of color” on committees or office staff
  • Expanding view of diversity includes other socially oppressed groups

But…

  • “Not those who make waves”
  • Little or no contextual change in culture, policies, and decision making
  • Is still relatively unaware of continuing patterns of privilege, paternalism and control

Stage Four is “Identity Change: An Anti-Racist Institution”. As Canada has never thought of itself as an anti-racist country, it remains at Stage 3 of this model.

In Canada, there is the mistaken belief that racism is caused by cultural differences, and that if multiculturalism is embraced, then there would be no racism. However, when Canadians face discrimination when we travel while black, go fishing while East Asian, protest while brown, or seek medical care while indigenous, the problem is not “cultural differences” to be solved with “cultural sensitivity”. This “cultural” problem formulation still insists that people of colour must have done something differently from white people to provoke discrimination. It ignores the possibility that people of colour might do the same things as white people and still be treated differently due to our race.

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