Sikh schoolgirl’s response to racial abuse goes viral

by LAUREN CODLING

THE father of a 10-year-old Sikh girl has applauded her bravery after a video of her sharing her experiences of racism in a London playpark went viral last weekend.

Munsimar Kaur talked about two incidents of racial abuse which occurred on consecutive days last week in Plumstead Adventure Park, southeast London.

Reading from her notebook, the schoolgirl described how she was confronted by a group of teens who called her a “terrorist”.

“This broke my heart, but I kept my head up and (walked) away,” Munsimar, who wears a turban, recalled.

The next day, she returned to the park and met a young girl called Lucy. They played together until Lucy’s mother said the children could not interact with one another as
Munsimar was “dangerous”.

“My message to the world is that this experience has shown me the lack of exposure and knowledge some people have,” she said in the video. “I need to speak out about this because
not everyone is strong enough to walk away or has suitable parents to talk to and handle this racism.

“Anyone going through this, tell your parents and keep your chin up. It will work out in the end.”

Her father, Gurpreet Singh, spoke to Eastern Eye on Monday (12) about his daughter’s experience and his reaction to it. He only discovered what had happened when he picked Munsimar up from her grandparents’ house last Tuesday (6).

Munsimar with dad Gurpreet

“We were driving home and I could tell she wasn’t right,” he explained. “She was clearly deep in thought and was somewhere else.”

When they arrived home, Munsimar revealed what had happened in the park, describing herself as “heartbroken” by the incident.

To his knowledge, Singh said, it was the first time that his children had ever been directly
affected by racism. He explained that it was “devastating” to hear her express her sadness at the incident.

“You wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” he said.

However, the family realised it was an opportunity to speak out.

“What is done is done, but we need to become the voice of people who are silent because this happens all the time,” the father-of-three said. “(Racism) is a reality in this day and age. So, our thinking was if it can happen to our child, it could happen to any child.”

The video, which was released last weekend, has garnered more than 65,000 views on social media. Munsimar has been contacted by people all over the world, who have praised her
for her positive message and attitude.

Both Singh and his wife Navrup Kaur are active bloggers who share their experiences of parenting online. Munsimar had featured on the blog before, so she was comfortable being in front of the camera.

Munsimar with her siblings, mother Navrup Kaur and father Gurpreet Singh

The following day, she decided to film a blog about her experiences.

“As you can imagine, I had 101 things that I wanted to say about it, but I was keen for her to make it about herself and see what she wanted to say in her message,” Singh explained. “That was the thing that has resonated with people, I think – it is quite pure and innocent
from a child.

“If it was an adult, it would have a totally different agenda behind it.”

Since the video was published online, the family has received hundreds of messages from around the world.

People have opened up about their own experiences and expressed the difficulties of speaking out about it. The family also wanted to stress that no one should be made to feel
like they are unable to express their religious identity, for fear that they may be targeted by racists.

Racist comments can affect some to the point that they don’t want to be like that any more, that they feel their identity is a burden, Singh admitted.

“But regardless of what anybody says about us, we aren’t going to change who we are just because a few people have made ignorant comments,” he insisted.

Since the video has made national news, Singh has shown his daughter some of the positive messages she has received. He said he wanted her to understand how important it was to
speak out.

“This is what we wanted to show her – look how powerful your voice is,” he said.

Now, Munsimar has expressed big ambitions – she aspires to become the British prime minister one day.

“She has always said he wants to change the world,” Singh said. “I’m very proud of her.”