Jaskaran Sandhu: Baaz Takes Flight
Welcome to Baaz, a home for opinions, ideas, and original reporting for the Sikh and Punjabi diaspora
2 min. read
I was 20 years old when Terry Milewski’s anti-Sikh documentary “Samosa Politics” aired on CBC. The title was racist, let alone its content and analysis which othered an entire community.
The year was 2007, and people still consumed most of their news from live TV. I remember feeling incredibly angry but also helpless while watching it. How do I, a random kid from Brampton, the child of a factory worker and a taxi driver, fight this? How do I fight a well-respected (at the time) journalist (also, at the time) slandering my people on our national broadcaster’s primetime slot?
The hard truth was there was not much I, or anyone else, could effectively do at that juncture in history. But I learned some important lessons - lessons (and grudges) that I have held to this date.
We have to tell our own story in the mainstream, consistently and articulately, and topple over the gatekeeping that has traditionally kept us out.
We have to shape our narrative as a community and have interesting debates internally.
We have to push back on those masquerading as experts on Sikhs or Punjabi, calling them out as imposters when we see them.
And, finally, we have to build second-generation media institutions in the diaspora that provides space for a diversity of Sikh and Punjabi perspectives.
Manifesting those lessons is what we are setting out to do at Baaz.
While we have robust Punjabi language media around the world, that has often been inaccessible for many and has left out important voices. Also, while our social media landscape has matured considerably over the past few years as well, 280 characters on Twitter, meme accounts on Instagram, or uncle driven facebook groups hardly allow for longer forms of commentary, discourse, and informed community-centered thought leadership.
We felt now is the right time to finally launch a platform where we can come together and have a home for opinions, ideas, and original reporting on topical issues impacting the Sikh and Punjabi diaspora.
Nothing will be behind a paywall to ensure content is as accessible as possible, however, please consider becoming a paying subscriber as the growth of this site and its coverage is only possible with your support. The funds will go right back into Baaz, which is being registered as a Canadian non-profit organization, and will allow us to publish more original reporting on the issues that matter.
So, with that, welcome to Baaz. It has only been at least 14 years in the making.
Jaskaran Sandhu hails from Brampton, Canada, and is the co-founder of Baaz. He is a Senior Consultant at the public affairs agency Crestview Strategy. Jaskaran also previously served as executive director for the World Sikh Organization of Canada and as a senior adviser to Brampton’s Office of the Mayor. You can follow Jaskaran on Twitter at @JaskaranSandhu_
Baaz is home to opinions, ideas, and original reporting for the Sikh and Punjabi diaspora. Support us by subscribing. Find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @BaazNewsOrg. If you would like to submit a written piece for consideration please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.