How I Overcame My Prejudice
Contributed by Shawn Johal, business growth coach, leadership speaker and co-founder of DALS Lighting, Inc. He is also an active member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Montreal chapter.
“In the social jungle of human existence, there is no feeling of being alive without a sense of identity.” – Erik Erikson
Growing up is tough. We have all lived through moments of bullying, of being afraid of certain people in our neighborhoods or schools. In some ways, it’s a necessary rite of passage: We often look back and learn from the way we handled these difficult situations. Did we stand up for ourselves? Did we run and hide? Did we do something deeper, more significant?
In Indian culture, it is very common to take on a new name. From a Western perspective, it sounds strange, but it is a core element of Indian culture. Many Indians have what we refer to as a “Western” name—one that will allow us to “fit” into Western society. It’s a social practice that has existed for decades.
As the focus on racial inequality became a key part of social conversation, it truly made me pause and reflect on this practice as playing directly into prejudice.
My Indian name is Sukhraj. In the Sikh culture, this means “The Happy King.”