(This article is written on a broad and not all inclusive generalization of Punjabi youth in diaspora losing their identity, regardless of money or lack thereof)      

 

          Both Gurpreet S. Gosal and Amandeep S. Dhami symbolize a lost first generation of Punjabi youth turning to a life strife with crime and hooliganism. The majority of Sikh youth growing up as the first generation of immigrants come from homes where both parents have to work extreme hours to make ends meat, and that usually includes living expenses and money to send back to family in Punjab. They are raised in lower income housing communities and left to fend for themselves at an early age. America is segregated in lower income neighborhoods not so much by the system, but instead by the need for similar communities to support one another amidst a new environment and society. Punjabis, Mexicans, Italians, and other minorities first begin moving into particular areas in cities that are known to belong to their people. It is normal for the first generation to keep their roots alive while trying not to assimilate into the culture and society they find themselves emerged in. 

                   This is not the case for all first generation families, but some of the less educated families do go through this process in pardesi countries when they leave their own behind. They come to countries like America for a better future for their children, but sometimes those children end up on the wrong path due to a vile environment, bad influences, and a lack of identity and faith. As those “confused” children grow up, they are tugged by the traditional culture at home, and a western culture outside the Punjabi lifestyle. They neither identify with the old traditions at home, nor the western culture at school. Identity crisis creates an internal conflict of not belonging, hence the step toward organizing a racial gang or crew is created. Punjabi youth who do not acclimate tend stick together throughout school after rejecting home while being rejected by the school. A new identity is born and that identity is a pact of young men or women who band together to form a group creating belonging, identity, and loyalty. Therefore, the door to violence and illegal activity soon starts on a rocky road of losing one’s identity and faith amidst a new and often xenophobic western world.

                  The reality is unfortunate, but it has proven true in many cases. The shooting in Elk Grove involving a fatal shooting is only a small passage in the large and voluminous book of Sikh youth diaspora in America and other western countries. The problem involves many variables ranging from identity, faith, environment, acceptance, belonging, and assimilation. Help is even crippled by bias within the divisions of Sikh youth itself. The more assimilated and accepted students and young adults dismiss new Punjabi immigrant youth as FOBs, fresh of the boat, and want nothing to do with them. The problem is laden with much complexity so the solution is not going to be a simple one.

                  We must instill within our children an identity to be proud of, and one that fits them uniquely in their own way without applying high expectations and pressures. Support and help must come from home and the only way to do such is by creating an open relationship, and that means parents hearing things that they may not be too fond of. This foundation of mental support at home leaves a child resilient in the face of finding identity elsewhere outside the home in places like racial gangs. Reveal the message that is embedded in the teachings of Sikhism passed on by the great Gurus who have beautifully stated wisdom and a disciplined lifestyle in the shabads of Gurbani.

                  We left our homes in Punjab in the pursuit of Maya, an illusion, laced by money and wealth. Along the way some have focused too fundamentally on the mirage, and less on the truth of Waheguru and spirituality. “Nanak dukhiya sabh sansaar.” Pain, sadness, and hurt are all components of life but never forget that true happiness is not found outside the gates of naam and Waheguru. “Dukh wich Sukh maniye.” In the depths of despair, I found happiness with God by my side. Give your children a hug, instill morals, spread Gurbani, and teach them to be good people for that is the true ticket to living a life of dignity. I pray for those who have lost their way, but I am assured that Waheguru will guide them to His gates with His kirpa. In Waheguru’s mercy I put my life and pray for others.

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