In an effort to raise awareness about the fight for racial justice, two Sikh New York City Marathon runners paid tribute to Colin Kaepernick.
Simran Jeet Singh, who teaches religion at Trinity University and Jasdeep Singh, a doctor from NYC ran the marathon on Sunday wearing shirts with Kaepernick’s name and number on them.
Simran said they were moved by the “clarity and poise” that Kaepernick brought to the issue of racial injustice and police brutality and felt the need to honor the quarterback’s movement.
“I am committed to fighting anti-Black racism because my Sikh faith teaches me to confront any injustice I encounter in this world,” Simran said. “It is not an option to ignore the deep oppression that our Black sisters and brothers experience in America, and each of us has a responsibility to help ensure that we realize real equity in this country.”
The marathon was Simran’s sixth overall and fifth running the New York City Marathon. He said he has had people say racist things to him as he ran. Just last year he was being called a “dirty Muslim” or “that guy from ISIS.” This year however, he didn’t encounter one racist word.
While Sikhs have been in America since the 1800s, they have always been targets of xenophobia and racism. Theirs is not a religion many people are familiar with and they are often misidentified as Muslim.
“We talked about how maintaining our Sikh identities in the world’s biggest race was a political statement in and of itself ― but we also talked about how we wanted to do something more explicit and more timely.”
Simran says that standing up for black lives is just the right thing to do but he said there is also strategic value in forming alliances between black people and the South Asian Community.
“Anti-Black racism is … a worldview fueled by white supremacy that was exported through European colonialism,” he said. “Anti-Black racism permeates South Asian culture as much as any other, and this pernicious bias keeps us from identifying and standing with our Black sisters and brothers to the extent that we really should. It’s a problem South Asians don’t discuss openly or often enough, and it’s a problem we need to address with real urgency.”