Australia is perhaps not the easiest country in the world to be an immigrant in, and people perceived as outsiders have been targeted by bigots in the past. So when a first generation Sikh woman captured the daily injustices people of her community faced in the country in an incredible spoken-word poem, she left some of the audience in tears.
On 8 February, Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa appeared at Australia’s Got Talent and decided to recite an SWP that painted a hard-hitting picture of what the Sikh community faced in the country.
Khalsa, a 21-year-old feminist activist, used dark humour in her poetry to leave the judges spellbound. She started off by asking the audience what makes them Australian, and then painted a heart-breaking picture of the bigotry faced by the Sikh Community.
“When you’ve been given such a loud voice, and when you have the confidence, you need to speak up for the voiceless, she said in a recent interview with a daily for the Indian community in Australia where she also admitted she wasn’t always an outgoing personality. “Humour and satire; that’s the thing Australia uses to get the messages across.”
The video was quick to go viral with 388,087 views on Facebook. However this is not the first time that she has spoken up on social issues in the country. She delivered a longer version of the poem last year in June at the Slamalamadingdong, a poetry slam.
Khalsa also took to Twitter to thank the country for listening to her:
Before delivering her speech, Khalsa who has been hooked onto spoken-word poetry for a few years now, asked people to click along if any of her words appealed to them. What started off as a trickle of clicks quickly gave way to a standing ovation. The judges were overcome with her unique style of combing “anger with heart and humour” and all of them were touched by her words.
Later, judge Kelly Osbourne even reached out to her on Twitter:
Needless to say, she got a unanimous vote to the next round.
Here’s her speech, if you couldn’t catch it all:
“If you’re not in Australia, ‘where the bloody hell are ya?’ Remember the Bingle jingle, inviting the world to mix and mingle?
Where a fair go was your welcome mat, unless you’re of caramel descent and then ain’t nobody got time for that.
You see, rocking up for my first job at Coles, was like a scene from Border Patrol.
What makes you Australian?
Is it a Southern Cross Tattoo or wombat stew crumbled with a Dunkaroo?
Do you think of a time when Australia’s learnt to share and care and dare to wear its heart on its face, fully aware that most of us in this place are far from fair, but brown and black and slow to attack?
But quick to embrace a warm Australia.
I’m confused as to why, on Australia Day, when the night sky spews bigot bile, I’m left traumatised.
When a teen rips off my uncle’s turban, I’m an enraged flame of pain and shame and sorrow, for tomorrow when a hooning ute throws a rotten peach at my dad and screams ‘go home, ya bloody terrorist.’
I plead to you Lara , where the bloody hell are we?
My people, the Sikhs, came here in 1860 with camels and carts and courageous hearts and look at the maxi Taxi, we’re still driving and steering this country in offices and hospitals and even on stage.
So when people tell me and my family to go home to where we came from, I reply with a smile, tongue-in-cheek, ‘mate, we’ve been right at home for the past 150 years!’
I’m not the one that’s a freak, I’m fully Sikh.”
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