Pali Kaur: Jazzy B Is Stayin’ Real
All eyez are on Jazzy B as India censors his Twitter profile
June 29, 2021 | 2.5 min. read | Opinion
It is weird to me that India’s government censors never noticed how revolutionary Jazzy B was before now.
His entire career is interspersed with a fervent and fearless love of Sikhi and Punjab. Although most of his greatest hits are pop songs that are fun rather than meaningful, he never forgets to sprinkle in social messages about maintaining Punjabiyat and Sikhi in his records. That is part of the reason he has resonated with fans for decades.
Jazzy B was given a pedestal and Indian media allowed him to rise to a superstar legendary status.
He was judging singing competitions on ZeeTV as recently as fall 2020. His Punjabi songs were being used in Bollywood movies right up to the start of the Farmers' Protest. He was becoming a household name even in Hindi-speaking homes.
Despite the mainstream success, Jazzy B never sold out his people and community. He continued promoting the Punjabi language and Sikh history.
You would think India’s anti-Sikh governments would know that Jazzy B’s allegiance lies with his community first and foremost. Yet his unparalleled success within India’s media empires exposes the things that India’s Brahminical elite do not understand about the Punjabi Sikh community-- we are not going away and we are never going to back down.
This is the crux of the matter - the Indian government is now frightened by a pop star because the things he stands for are antithetical to their very existence.
A strong and thriving sense of Punjabi identity usurps their ideas about a Hindi-speaking majority. An empowered Sikh qaum threatens their Bramannical caste-based and fear-based society.
Jazzy B did two things - one, he stood with farmers and laborers by spending weeks at the Delhi border protests. And two, he relentlessly reminded his fans of the government-sponsored atrocities committed in Punjab from 1984-1996.
He spoke about all of this on Twitter. None of this was a surprise. Both of these issues coalesce perfectly with everything Jazzy B the artist has stood for during the past two decades.
Yet for some reason, the Indian government got triggered and requested that his Twitter account be “withheld” in India earlier this month.
Attempts were made by fellow artists like Bohemia and Neeru Bajwa to bring awareness to this egregious demonstration of censorship. Kisaan Morcha leaders also raised their voices in his defense. The hashtag #restorjazzybaccount was widely used across the diaspora the first few weeks of June.
But as of now, his account is still withheld in India.
As the Indian government cracks down on free speech and threatens artists for supporting movements such as the Farmers’ Protest, it is hard to predict whether their repressive tactics will be successful or further embolden dissent.
The only thing I do know is this, Jazzy B’s philosophy and ethos are representative of most of the Punjabi Sikh community. He is not an outlier in his fearlessness and pride.
India tried in its short and embarrassing history to decimate our identity and our people, but we are still here while their nuclear-powered country is scared of a singer’s Twitter feed.
Pali Kaur is a blogger and educator based out of California. She works with immigrant communities, focusing on Spanish and Punjabi speakers. You can find her on Twitter at @wittypunjaban
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