Thursday, January 12, 2012

Read this column and examine Sunny Singh Chopra response. He clearly misses the point

Is Facebook A Cultural Divider Or A Uniting Force?

If we plan on bridging the cultural divide in the future, we must realize that social media is one platform that has never been explored.

By Ken Herar

A year ago I was interviewed on CBC Radio, The Early Edition with host Rick Cluff concerning being denied access to a Christmas party because I was South Asian. During the program, he asked me whether or not I believed that Facebook was a contributing factor towards the cultural divide in the Lower Mainland. I didn’t see this as being the case, however, I do see this as an avenue in which cultural polarization can be addressed.

I decided to do some quick research through some of my friend’s Facebook lists to see what kind of cross cultural friendships are being developed through a click of a button. I discovered that most cultures actually stick within themselves (especially youth) and some of my friends who are over the age of 30 seemed to show some improvements in how they reached out on social media.

If we plan on bridging the cultural divide in the future, we must realize that social media is one platform that has never been explored.

On another note, Facebook can be very self absorbing at times. People become caught up talking about themselves rather than focusing on others. For example, in most of my personal postings, I found that it is the same dozen or so people who leave a comment or give me a “thumbs up”. It’s kind of discouraging when I have over a 1000 Facebook friends/acquaintances that have the potential of reaching out and choose not to. I have made every effort throughout the years on Facebook to reach out to almost every contact at least once in the year.

Jassi Hera, a grade 12 student from Rick Hansen Secondary School shared these comments: “I personally think everyone should get along with each other. We only live once, why not get to know some new people and even learn about their culture. Facebook is one of the best ways to actually meet new people.”

I have some sad news to share, the tree that was planted on May 18th to celebrate the Cycling4Diversity ride to Victoria which was vandalized in August did not make it. I would like to thank the District of Mission for doing their best to save the tree. Another tree is scheduled to be planted in the spring as a replacement.

Since the completion of the ride, the momentum hasn’t stopped. We have some exciting announcements to be made in the New Year. Sarina Di Martino Derksen, the Executive Coordinator is planning on revealing the schedule, a new logo, as well as other events scheduled to take place. One of the many highlights of this trip was when the winner of the Cycling4Diversity bike offered to sell the bike. Di Martino Derksen stepped up and advised me that this would be a wonderful opportunity to help out the winner as well as keep the bike for the rides to come. Di Martino Derksen personally purchased the bike and will be loaning the bike each year to the team.

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I would like to congratulate the Sikh community for the official opening of the Sikh Heritage Museum at the Gur Sikh Gurdwara which took place last Saturday. My father and several of my close friends enjoyed the celebrations. I look forward to re-visiting the landmark temple where I played as a child.

Ken “Kulwinder” Herar is a Mission-based writer and a winner of the champions of diversity award for his columns in the LINK newspaper and other Fraser Valley newspapers. Herar can be reached at kenherar@gmail.com or view his blog at http://www.kenherar.blogspot.com

"A lie, is a lie" as you refer to it Sunny Singh Chopra . Start learning from your own advice.


A month ago Sunny Singh Chopra wrote this letter to the editor in the paper quoting from my last column “Is Facebook a Cultural Divider or a Uniting Force?” Also, he commented on his Facebook page and said the following: “Our article is a stinging critique against Mr. Herar's previous article that stated Facebook, separates Canadians. In the end a lie is a lie. Media like KiDDAA will always fight for truth and multiculturalism. Uncle Toms need not apply.” For those who may not remember what my column was about, I specifically discussed how Facebook is a tool that brings people together but it clearly depends on how people use such tools in social media in order to accomplish that goal. In my research, I found that many people don’t reach out to other races than their own. Mr. Chopra purposely paraphrased me incorrectly for his own gain and self satisfaction in hoping to promote his KIDDA magazine. Mr. Chopra, in the future if you’re going to quote someone, be sure you’re coming from a honest place. Make sure you get your facts straight otherwise “a lie, is a lie”.

Dear Editor:

I recently read the article on Facebook in The Link by Ken Herar. To paraphrase his article, he suggests Facebook polarizes people and divides communities. Punjabis and other people in Canada only talk on Facebook with their own kinds. Give me a break that is completely nonsense. This belief is the farthest from the truth. Facebook is one of the new technologies that has helped diversity, multiculturalism and the Charter of Rights And Freedoms here in Canada. In my dealings, working with KiDDAA Magazine, Facebook has helped us reach out to all communities. Through Facebook we interviewed Daniel Igali, Sugar Sammy, Haroon Siddiqui, the list goes on.

On a business level Social Media like Facebook gives brands the ability to advertise their product for free. That initself scares the man. You know the man. Facebook really did take the world by storm. Its like cell phones how much have they changed our lives? No one really uses their home phone anymore. Great ideas like Facebook make life better in many ways.

Facebook alone has helped KiDDAA Magazine voice our opinion on news and topics, the so called white mainstream media does not broadcast.

KiDDAA Magazine through the use of Facebook was able to highlight racism in the media. Through Facebook we were able to connect with former MP Sukh Dhaliwal, Dawn Black, tell the story of Erwin Singh Braich, philanthropist and industrialist, highlight the beatdown of Phil Khan by police, and other important stories. Many of these stories and people were ignored by the so called “Mainstream Media.

Facebook did not become a part of life because of its negative aspects. Those who attack Social Media like Facebook, are afraid of a different world where mainstream thought, politics and media has now power. Brown, Yellow, Aboriginal, etc now have a voice, turn off your CNN, Global Canwest, Globe Media, ABC, it not a representation of ethnic peoples, never mind Punjabis/South Asians. Not only are we not reflected in colour but thought. Why would I have the same point of view as a 35 year old white man? Did he live life in my shoes or me in his?

Mr. Herar argues that Facebook makes Punjabis in Canada stay only in the community. That is rubbish. Look at the friends of anyone 15-35 and their Facebook friends are as multicultural as Toronto or Vancouver, BC. When you post something on Facebook, people from every race, religion, colour, country can comment on your ideas. In other words Facebook like most Social Media spreads dialogue globally. I have had white people, Muslims, Chinese, African Americas, Punjabis all over the world comment on our KiDDAA Facebook Posts. Somtimes they are rude comments but often they promote dialogue and freedom of expression.

Currently KiDDAA Magazine has commented on Erwin Singh Braich’s life which merited a Court Order brought on by KPMG. In other words the Facebook posts among other things were important enough to highlight a BC Supreme Court Order against KiDDAA Magazine.

The entire Arab Spring revolutions were inspired by Facebook and Twitter and beamed to the entire world. Ask Egyptians or Tunisians what they think about Facebook. I have personally met people on Facebook and have become great friends. People have found love and marriage through Facebook. People have been reunited through Facebook. To downplay the role of Facebook is silly.

In my opinion Facebook is only a danger to those individuals, corporations, news media that are frightened by diversity and truth. Media like The Link, Georgia Straight, KiDDAA Magazine understand the importance of Social Media. To downplay Social Media tells a lot about a person’s belief in truth and diversity.

The greatest danger comes from those individuals of colour who don’t represent their community but parrot the ideas of racist white mainstream news.

To put in Financial terms the makers of Facebook (Zuckerberg) are now worth 100 billion, based on a fantastic idea, that unites people and the world. While I respect The Link and Paul Dhillion immensely, the editorial by Mr. Herar missed his mark on every level of this criteria on Facebook. Facebook should break $3 billion in revenue before it ever goes public, according to a report released Thursday. And Mark Zuckerberg, its chief executive, should sit atop piles of cash. In the world we celebrate those individuals who make the world better and invention. Facebook is one of those inventions that has made the world better and more diverse not less.

Another idea that is also important about Facebook like Rap Music, Facebook gives the voiceless a voice. On Facebook you can report a racist incident, or talk about the lies that lead to war in say Iraq and now Iran and its non existen nuclear weapons. Facebook can be very postitive and tell stories people want to see. The idea that you can post something that others can share is groundbreaking. With Facebook and Twitter not only can you connect with strangers but also those who command respect and power.

In other words through Facebook a connection was made between people who might never meet or converse. I have spoken through Facebook to family in Punjab, friends in Tdot or even dated.

New generation of Apney need to hold their head high not become uncle Toms who bad mouth diversity and multiculturalism. Happy new year to all and keep on using Facebook and reading The Link.

Sunny Singh Chopra

KiDDAA Magazine

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Freddy Latham supporting our discussion and Cycling4Diversity from her webpage






Diversity….topic of discussion on TV the other night with show host Harpreet Singh and guests Rick Rake and Ken Herar.

There are some very good ongoing projects like Cycling for Diversity, Abbyfest, City/School District programs. Projects are a good way to start the dialogue. However I agree with Rick when he said, ‘We can always do better.’ As an adult ESL teacher many years ago, I quickly learned that my students wanted time outside of class to socialize and get to know each other better. In some cases these groups of people made the effort to open their homes and invite fellow students over for coffee and conversation. I always felt that this kind of interaction and the dialogue that ensued went a long way in creating understanding among different cultures. So I guess the point is that when an event is scheduled…find ways to encourage further dialogue and interaction. It must be a balancing act for many newcomers to Canada to preserve their own culture while embracing another. I’ve never felt that you should ever give up one culture for another although with each successive generation that must be a source of concern in many families. To preserve your culture while living in another would be a balancing act.

Diversity is something we all share and so providing opportunities to spend time together learning about each other becomes important especially in our Abbotsford community. There is much work to be done in our schools and in our community to embrace diversity. I would like to see more opportunities to learn about other cultures through our schools. Informal afterschool and evening meet and greets might strengthen the understanding of diversity as well as make stronger connections in neighbourhoods. When I grew up, we knew everyone on the block not the most multi cultural neighbourhood but certainly diverse religious backgrounds. Everyone played together, inclusion just happened. Not sure it is like that anymore.

So thanks Ken and Rick for reminding all of us to take note…understanding diversity doesn’t just happen, we need to talk about it.

I look forward to the Diwali Celebration at Rick Hansen on Oct. 22 to learn more about the Indo Canadian Culture.