The Washington Times belief blog posted an interview with Sonny Singh. Here are some choice quotes:
“I’ve heard from thousands of people around the world on how they appreciated this,” Mr. Caberwal said. He hopes his day in the sun will encourage Sikh youth, whose unusual headcovering makes them stand out in a crowd.
“Having a unique identity can be a very lonely road to walk down,” the model said. “Fighting against a negative stereotype is consistantly tough.”
All Sikhs know what it’s like to be harassed, he said, and his brother-in-law has endured worse: physical threats, job descrimination and taunts just for being confused with Muslims. Kenneth Cole had heard of what Sikhs endure, he said, and wanted to include a Sikh in an ad campaign to introduce the concept that Sikhs are normal folk who wear cool clothes and think like us.
Check out Sonny’s Video Interview. I like what he says and he did a great job speaking from the heart.
I too remember watching the events of 9/11 unfold on a big screen in the Frist campus center. When members of the Taliban were shown on television, I could feel everyone look at the screen, and look at me, and then look back at the screen, and look at me again. I wanted to jump in front of the screen and say, “Hey friends, look, that’s not me, see my turban’s actually much neater, I match the color with my clothes, it’s worn for religious purposes, and 97% of all turban wearing folks in the US are Sikhs–not the blatant stereotype that’s forming in your head as you watch CNN in these key formative moments.” Of course I would follow it by saying we should never make assumptions about people just by the way they look, and that even if their stereotype were true I’m still my own person and the actions of a few do not represent a whole group. Anyway check out Sonny’s video. Update: Added the youtube clip. Update: Sonny Singh made the Front Page of the Times of India as well.
This world-wide ad campaign is for Kenneth Cole’s 20th anniversary, and the focus is on the fact that “we all walk in different shoes.” Kenneth Cole has a long history of supporting socially conscious initiatives, including the AWEARNESS campaign focused on AIDS and homelessness. Along with Sonny [Singh], the other “models” were selected for the adversity that they face in their day to day life (e.g., two Muslim sisters who escaped Taliban Afghanistan, a blond model who is HIV-positive, etc.). They will be launching a website in the coming weeks that features a video interview with each model, along with their story. This will obviously bring tremendous visibility to our community and hopefully move us closer to breaking the stereotypes we work so hard every day to counter. The attached pictures are of a 20-foot board outside the Kenneth Cole store in Rockefeller Center (49th and 5th). Similar posters and billboards should be popping up in the coming months. Pretty damn cool!
It’s also worth noting that Sonny is not a model by profession, but an attorney and entrepreneur. We’ll be looking forward to the website and congrats again to Sonny and Kenneth Cole for proving, once again, that Sikhs are stylin’ cool.