CSU Bakersfield is a campus that shines with the light of diversity in its students. Each community plays a lead role in the story of CSUB with many achievements and contributions. Luis Vega, professor of psychology, says that on campus, an “’invisible minority’ is the Sikh community, our third largest group, with Punjabi as the third most spoken language in Bakersfield.” The Runner spoke to Lakhvir Kaur, a CSUB psychology graduate pursuing their master’s degree in school psychology, in order to take a deeper look into the challenges and growth within the Sikh community in Bakersfield.
RUNNER: What does being part of the Sikh community at CSUB mean to you?
KAUR: Being part of the Sikh community is coming together and showing deep respect for all people. If there is an act of injustice, Sikh community does not hesitate to come together and fight for justice. Being part of the community is our values that define our identity.
RUNNER: In what ways do you feel that CSUB has supported or not supported the Sikh Community, and what could be done for improvement?
KAUR: When I first entered the CSUB, I was surprised to know that not a lot people knew about Sikh community. Since the third most spoken language in Bakersfield is Punjabi, I was expecting that people were aware of Sikh community, but it was not the case. So when people were interested about my race, I shared with them that I’m a Sikh. I believe the best way to support Sikh community is just awareness about us and what we stand for such as our faith, values, and history would be a good way to inform society.
RUNNER: How can students of CSUB come alongside the Sikh community here in support and learn more about your history?
KAUR: There have been a couple of hate crimes that happened this year, such as an attack on a priest in Modesto. The attacker said “Go back to your country.” The suspect later admit that he thought we are Muslim. But it is not about attacking, it’s about perception. Perceiving a person as a threat by judging them from their looks does not justify their actions.
RUNNER: Is there anything that we haven’t covered in this interview thus far that you would like to add or want our readers to know?
KAUR: There are many organizations representing the Sikh community that I would like to shed a light on, as they do a wonderful job for the community. One being Jakara Movement, which is a community-building organization. They are actively representing Sikh community in the city via community organizing and social activism. Students can learn more about Sikh community through interacting with Sikh students and getting more exposure to our values and beliefs.
Lakhvir Kaur is an avid spokesperson for what it looks like to embrace diversity and to stand firm both with and in the Sikh community. In Bakersfield, the South Kern Sol News has brought to light an opportunity that the Bakersfield City Council will name a park after Jaswant Singh Khalra. Khalra showed extreme heroic actions for the Sikh community after the Indian government waged a “dirty war” in Punjab in the 1980’s. The final decision for this movement is to be made on October 16th. To learn more, read “Commentary: Bakersfield needs landmark to honor Jaswant Singh Khalra and the Sikh community” by Manpreet Kaur in the South Kern Sol. You can make a difference here on campus, and in Bakersfield, by voicing your support for this movement and the Sikh community.