NEW YORK, USA—Amid sparking of violent protests across the United States of America after George Floyd’s death, US Sikh Naval Petty Officer Geena Kaur Sidhu has shared several incidents of her life when she came across racial discrimination. Notably, Geena Kaur Sidhu had joined the US Navy in July, 2010 and currently she is serving as an aviation ordnanceman in the US Navy.
Geena Kaur Sidhu is the daughter of former AISSF leader Satwinder Singh Bhola and granddaughter of octogenarian Sikh activist Bapu Surat Singh Khalsa.
Read the full text of Geena Kaur Sidhu’s Facebook post:
“1. When I was younger, my dad and I would go on “dates” to Denny’s. One instance, shortly after 9/11, we went into a Denny’s in the Bay Area, CA. We waited for a table while multiple parties who came in after us were seated before us. When my dad asked the employee how much longer it would take for us to be seated, the employee said “F**k you, I’m not serving a terrorist.” My dad was a Sikh man who wore a turban. An elderly couple who had just been seated before us, got up and gave us their table. We had our meal and pretended like nothing had just happened.
2. A few years back, I was visiting someone in Leesville, LA and we went to lunch at a local restaurant. The other individual ordered everything, including my meal. I asked the waitress a couple questions and she simply ignored me. I didn’t think anything of it, until we left and I asked if I was just crazy or if she had actually ignored me. The individual responded with “Yeah, they aren’t to fond of people who aren’t white but they have really good cajun food and I thought you’d like the food! Just ignore her.”
3. I posted a picture of myself with Sikh Service members wearing turbans in uniform at the Pentagon and a fellow supervisor on the Eisenhower asked me what country’s military those men were from. When I stated that those were US Army uniforms, he responded with “My brothers didn’t die fighting in the desert for you fucking terrorists to wear our uniform.”
4. I posted a picture with my parents at my reenlistment and I received a message from someone who I wasn’t even friends with saying “How did your terrorist a** get into our military?”
5. On the Eisenhower, I was called a sand nigger by a fellow coworker when he discovered I received a better evaluation than he did.
6. When I was visiting Harrisonburg, VA, there was an instance where a white woman who worked at the customer service counter was yelling loudly and rudely, over and over again, “I CAN’T UNDERSTAND YOU!!” at a mexican individual with limited english speaking skills, trying to send a money order to loved ones. It took three others intervening and translating with all the spanish they knew to help this man and oh how her demeanor changed when she realized people were disgusted by her behavior rather than supportive of it.
7. While I was interning with Chesapeake Police Department, I was doing a ride-along with a black officer who had just arrested a black man. We were in booking and the arrestee began cussing at the officer calling him a “fucking traitor” for joining the force.
8. I remember being in Kewanee, IL at the local walmart with my dad, shopping for groceries. I noticed a few teenagers sneaking around the isles, taking pictures and videos of my dad. I mentioned it him and he said to just ignore it, “they are just kids”. Then, one yelled “CALL THE FBI! WE FOUND OSAMA!”
9. When I was on the Lincoln, I was told by a supervisor that I should think about how uncomfortable I would make others on the ship if I invited my younger brother onboard for a tiger cruise because he wears a turban. He told me to invite my sister instead.
10. When I was on the Lincoln, a random individual onboard said “We killed your dad, bitch.” when US troops killed Osama Bin Laden.
11. Throughout my career, I have witnessed white supervisors be accused of being racist when they were simply attempting to counsel ethnic subordinates on legitimate wrongdoings that had absolutely nothing to do with race.
12. The amount of times I have seen individuals of my ethnic community says they support all races and everyone is created equal and yet firmly state they would disown their child if they attempted to marry someone outside of the culture.
13. I have witnessed white sailors be ranked below ethnic sailors simply because people did not want to “seem racist” and want to show “diversity” in their evaluations. It had absolutely nothing to do with merit.
This is not a post to demand any sympathy for what I listed above nor is it to say I understand what anyone else has felt or is feeling. It is only to show that there are so many people who know that moments like these do exist and there are many different types of people who have witnessed and experienced them.
While this is a short list of personal experiences and moments I witnessed, I am well aware that racism, ignorance, and discrimination are alive and well. It comes in all shapes and forms. I have seen it at the hands of minorities as well as white Americans. This nation is not perfect, no nation is.
However, I also know that there are far more kind and loving people in this world. These instances do not represent what truly is our nation, our military, our communities. I have see more than enough instances where someone stepped in to intervene in a negative situation. I have seen people volunteer their time to the betterment of society. I have seen people celebrate diversity and empathize with pain. I understand that not all experiences are the same or encompass the same level of pain or anger. I also understand that there are people who have never experienced this type of behavior and some who have seen much worse.
The one thing that will never change for me is that I truly love this country and I love it for the people who dedicate every moment they get to be a positive light. People who protect and serve not only as law enforcement officials but first responders, teachers, advocates, and even just support systems to their fellow Americans. There are so many ways to protect and serve our communities that do not require a uniform of any sort. It requires dedication to shine light on issues in society and a passion to change them. There are people who see something wrong and want to do something about it. People who will stand up for what is right whether there is a social media post about it or not. Social justice warriors that are working to change the world when no one is watching.
Some of us are hurting more than others right now. Some of us are angered by different things. Some of us don’t even know how to feel or express how we feel. That is okay. It is okay to deal with what is happening in our nation, in our own way. What is not okay is for individuals to claim that social media silence means someone does not see the pain in recent events or that they are compliant with recent evil behavior. The extent of someone’s care for societal issues is not determined by a status, re-tweet, or hashtag. It can be seen through their work to better the world around them.
It is not okay to stand idle when you see your fellow human victimized, in any capacity.
I have faith in our country and I have faith in the people around me. While there are a few evil people in this world, there are far more who want to see good and do good. I choose to believe in them.
Not all whites are racist.
Not all cops are bad.
Not all minorities are criminals or terrorists.
May God provide healing to all the hearts that are hurting right now.
No one is alone in this.”