Darsh Singh who made history as the first turbaned Sikh American to play NCAA basketball at Trinity University in San Antonio was labelled a ‘terrorist’ in a racist meme after being mistaken for a Muslim.
The meme showed the former co-captain of the basketball team at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas dribbling the ball during a game. Above the image, a caption read, “Nobody at school wants to guard Muhammad, he’s too explosive.”
In response to this offensive meme, Greg Worthington, a professional rugby league footballer took to Facebook to point out that Singh is “not Arab” and “not even Muslim”.
Worthington also praised Singh’s achievements, pointing that the “jersey Singh is wearing in the meme “currently sits in a Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC because he made United States history as the NCAA’s first turbaned Sikh American basketball player for Trinity University in San Antonio.”
He also mentioned that Singh has “worked in US Intelligence with the National Security Agency in the past and currently manages financial portfolios and hedge funds for some of the most compassionate companies in the US”, making him a proud, responsible US citizen, unlike what the meme projects.
Worthington’s post quickly went viral, and Singh, appreciating his support wrote an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News.
Responding to Worthington, Singh wrote, “Greg’s commitment to his Christian values compelled him to speak up when he saw something he felt was wrong. By voicing his thoughts, he was combating hate, fear and ignorance through education.”
Singh also noted “the power one node” in his network could have “in creating a more compassionate society.”
“The post went viral, with over 35,000 likes and 13,000 shares. I witnessed hundreds of friends, old and new, rally around shared values of truth, education, and compassion,” he added.
Further, the Sikh American shared his feelings on racism saying, “Silence sends a message to those who are suffering from prejudice that you believe they should be victimised. It also sends a message to the perpetrators that you agree with their actions.”
His inspirational message urged people to speak up and engage “in thoughtful dialogue with groups that have very different backgrounds than us”, which “can break the walls of ignorance in our communities and connect with each other on a deeper level.”
Darsh’s story started a #BeLikeDarsh hashtag on Twitter and serves as a reminder that social media can be used to spread important messages instead of only being used for offensive memes and racist comments.