A meme about a Sikh basketball player who plays while wearing a turban went viral online, but then his friend stepped in. Note: Article contains coarse language.
The meme claims the player’s name is Muhammad, and that no one wants to guard him because “he’s too explosive.”
But Greg Worthington, a friend of the player, posted on Facebook about why the joke wasn’t funny.
“I know this guy and his name’s not ‘Muhammad.’ He’s not Arab, he’s Punjabi. He’s not even Muslim, he’s a Sikh. His name is Darsh Singh and he’s a US citizen, born and bred. That jersey he’s wearing in this pic, it currently sits in a Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC because he made US history as the NCAA’s first turbaned Sikh American basketball player for Trinity University in my hometown of San Antonio. He was co-captain of that team when he played there,” Worthington wrote.
“He’s 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. Above all those things, he’s a really nice guy, very funny, and he’s a great friend of my younger brother whom I was more than happy to befriend myself.”
Worthington then noted that people should understand that these types of jokes hurt people.
“You might think it’s funny but that’s mainly because you don’t know the guy. Perhaps if you did, then you would see this differently. But even if I didn’t know Darsh, I still wouldn’t think this was funny. Why? Because things like this pic teach people to be afraid of those who are different than you,” he said.
“What you might not know is that Sikhs have a history in the US and abroad of being mistaken for being Muslim and thus being accused of terrorism. This usually leads to them being attacked and even killed because someone stupid thought they deserved to be beaten, injured, or killed because of their religion. But even if he was a Muslim or if he was Arab, this still doesn’t make the joke okay and it still doesn’t give you reason to believe that person is inherently evil or that they deserve harm.”
Worthington added that people should educate themselves and try to befriend people from different groups of people who are not like them.
The Smithsonian added in a post that Singh “is awesome!”
“A huge Spurs fan, all he wanted to do was play in one of America’s greatest sports. He became the first Sikh American to play basketball in the NCAA and he successfully petitioned the NCAA to allow him to wear his turban. That’s groundbreaking,” the center said via Facebook.
“On top of that, his jersey was in the Smithsonian. How many people can say that? So, in response, all we have to say is: we want to be like Darsh Singh when we grow up.”