People helping others and building bridges #11. This is my new friend Darsh. I first read about him years ago in the Trinity University alumni magazine when he broke barriers as the first turbaned Sikh American to play NCAA basketball. He also gained notoriety when his jersey was exhibited in the Smithsonian. But his unexpected viral fame last December and his inspirational response are astounding.
An online “humor” site posted a photo of Darsh playing basketball, with a horrible racist caption that referred to him as “Muhammad” and “explosive.”
Darsh’s initial reaction was to ignore it; it wasn’t the first time he had seen it, and as a mild-mannered guy, he was used to being a voice of reason. But then his friend Greg posted a response on Facebook, and it went viral. Big-time viral. Suddenly, Darsh was getting calls from the media.
Darsh is a busy man; he’s a portfolio manager focused on conscious capitalism. He didn’t really want to take the time to comment to the media or respond to the hate, but then “I saw the chance to share a story of equality and compassion, and to share components of my faith tradition,” he says.
With the support and encouragement of his colleagues, he took time off work to handle the media zoo. The story was picked up everywhere, and the hashtag #BeLikeDarsh took off. Please read his very thoughtful op-ed for the Dallas Morning News or watch him on MSNBC here.
Darsh stepped out of his comfort zone to respond to negativity and spread a message of positivity and love. “It is important to speak up when we witness prejudice. When we don’t, it sends a message that we don’t feel strongly enough about the values of compassion and love as a community.”
“We, as Sikhs, believe that the divine exists in everything and everyone. Hate is loud, but love is the most powerful force in the world.”
Wow. I was very moved by Darsh’s response, and I showed my kids many articles about him. This is how I knew a lot about Darsh before he knew anything about me. And this is why I scared him to death in a restaurant parking lot a day after he had moved to Austin in February. I was jogging past during my nearby exercise class, and I recognized him. “Darsh!” I yelled, running toward him enthusiastically as he and his lovely wife looked extremely surprised as an unknown, sweaty, middle-aged woman barrelled toward them. He graciously responded to my coffee invitation, and now I am proud to call him my friend. I want to #BeLikeDarsh.