I was born in Reedley and I am a Sikh.
My parents and grandparents moved to the United States in 1981. Specifically, they settled in the Central Valley.
I grew up watching my grandparents, uncles and aunts harvesting raisins and peaches in the often blazing sun. They moved to this country, like many other immigrants, for the hopes of a better life – if not for themselves, at least for their children.
Without the hard, manual labor of my family, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to receive the excellent education I got attending a tiny elementary school in rural Fresno. This school would allow me more opportunities than the best of the best could offer in India.
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Watching my mother work in peach factories all summer motivated me to study harder. I attained my bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, and subsequently attended medical school. Currently, I am a radiology resident in Detroit.
My goal has always been to come back to the place that made me who I am, the Valley. It often has a shortage of medical professionals, because, to the outside world, the Valley is a non-coastal desert.
However, to me, it’s home.
That is, until recent hate crimes against people similar to my grandfather, an elderly Sikh man. These retired, turbaned men, hands rough from years of manual labor on your farms, are being targeted. Otherwise helpless, they have been attacked while going for a walk, enjoying a sunny day or working to continue to feed their families.
They have children like me. We have left home to achieve what we wanted with hopes of returning and making the Valley a better place
But after these types of acts, one has to wonder if the Valley is our home anymore. These acts are occurring at a higher rate in the Valley, despite the large population of Sikhs or perhaps because of the large population of Sikhs.
There is no point in mentioning the name of the Islamic extremist group we are being confused with because I don’t think they deserve to be continuously mentioned for heinous acts.
This is all intolerance. This intolerance starts in schools, in the workplace and in homes. It is the responsibility of educators, parents and law enforcement to end this.
I urge the Valley to make drastic changes in the way these matters are handled, before it’s too late. We are peaceful, kind and contributing members of the Valley, not terrorists.
Dr. Ramanjyot Muhar, formerly of Reedley, is a radiology resident in Detroit.