Recently there’s been some concern over the portrayal of Sikhs on the television show “Glee” which serves the high school crowd. It’s summed up by the image below:

glee-screenshot

What’s funny is this Glee episode has some discussion about faith and religions (from the few seconds of it that I watched). Unfortunately the quote above and the following dialog characterizes all Sikhs as acupuncturists, something that’s not part of the Sikh tradition. The in-passing references to Sikhism are the most demeaning, because they leave no room for discussion or dimension. Anyway I could see how this was an innocent error by a scriptwriter eager to make reference to our cool faith — they might know a Sikh who does acupuncture. :) If that were the case perhaps they could’ve referred to him by name instead of saying “My Sikh.” It’s like saying “My Jew”. That sounds offensive, doesn’t it?

Here’s a note from Kanwalroop Kaur on this issue:

I wanted to call your attention to a particular show called Glee that comes on Tuesday evenings on Fox. There was an episode last week, Season 2 Episode 3, that was focused on religion and referenced Sikhism in a demeaning way. My friends and I have started an emailing campaign to get the producers of the show to apologize for the misrepresentation. The show portrayed Sikhs as acupuncturists and one character even says, “My Sikh.” I was outraged by this and so were many of the Sikhs I know. If you would like to watch the episode, you can watch it here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/181761/glee-grilled-cheesus
The offensive part occurs at 35:12.
We have devised a sample email to send to the producers of the show and I will copy and paste it below. It would be great if you could help us spread the word and send it yourself as well. Here is the sample message:

Sample letter:

To: Tracey.Raftery@fox.com
Subject: Serious Misrepresentation of the Sikh Community on Glee
Content of Message:

Dear Ms. Tracey Raftery,

In the third episode of Season 2 (”Grilled Cheesus”), there was a serious misrepresentation of the Sikh religion and community. Seeing as Sikhs are a minority and not often covered in mainstream media, each and every time that we are referenced by a mainstream media organization makes a great impact on our perception in American culture. Thus, we believe that unknowingly you created a perception of the Sikh community that you had no idea you were creating. It is ironic that in this episode the writers were trying to convey a sense of interfaith unity and general religious acceptance, and yet seriously misrepresented the 5th largest religion in the world–Sikhism.
In the episode, the Sikh woman that was portrayed as Kurt’s acupuncturist, was referred to as “My Sikh” by Kurt. Firstly, acupuncture has no place in our religion. This is more of an oriental tradition, and the simple act of googling the world, “acupuncture” would tell you this. Secondly, referring to someone as “my Sikh”–is quite frankly, demeaning. It gives off the air that Sikhs are servants, or people that can be owned and forced to do service for others. Sikhism is centered on the tenets of self-empowerment, equality, and brotherhood–so Glee clearly missed the point.
It is quite depressing that the writers of Glee did not put in the effort to perform a simple google search of our religion to learn more about it. This lack of concern and apathy is shameful and disrespectful. Not only myself, but many other Sikhs and even non-Sikhs found the scenes of this episode to be offensive. It was especially upsetting, because this episode was so centered on religion, so it was truly sad to see our faith so misrepresented by a show that was meant to promote learning and acceptance. If you do not wish to alienate the Sikh viewers of this show, I strongly recommend that you issue a correction of some kind.

Sincerely,
Write Name Here