Have you ever walked into a room, quickly realized that you look completely different than everyone else, and walked out? It might sound ridiculous to someone who has not encountered this scenario, but it can be incredibly intimidating to try new experiences when you feel like you are not “the right kind of person” to be pursuing them. This is why I find it so impressive that Jagmeet Singh is the new leader of the NDP. With his brown skin, magnificent beard, and vibrant turbans, he looks nothing like any of Canada’s current or past leaders, and yet, here he is.

 

When Singh became a candidate for the NDP leadership last year, predictions of his success were low, as he started with few people by his side. Despite these odds, in October 2017, he became the first visible minority to lead a Canadian federal political party. Regardless of your beliefs and political views, what is universally inspiring is how Singh did not have to change anything about him to achieve his victory. He continues to rock his turban and keep his kirpan by his side. I am sure many of us have felt obliged to “adjust” our personalities or appearance based on the social situation we are in, but should we feel the need to? Singh proves we do not have to.

 

You might be thinking, well, some people are just born confident in their own skin! While this may be true in some situations, this is not the case with Singh. It was not always easy for him to embrace his differences – as a child, he found it difficult to have a “funny sounding first name” and long hair, especially growing up in Scarborough, an area with little diversity at the time. Having been bullied for being different, his experiences inspired his desires to work towards social justice and equality. Singh stated that a key issue he wants to tackle if he becomes Prime Minister would be pay equality[1]. He has also openly spoken out against Quebec’s Bill 62, the proposed law targeting and banning the niqab[2].

 

He also amped up his style game, using his exceptionally fashionable and often-talked-about style as a “social armor” to direct people’s attention towards his turban and beard in a more positive light, which allowed him to focus on topics more important than his appearance, topics like poverty, injustice and inequality. His methods worked, and to top it off, Toronto Life included him as one of the top 25 most stylish personalities in 2013.

 

Comparing his past to where he is now shows how far we have moved as a society with regards to acceptance and looking past physical appearances. Seeing a man who looks completely different from the average politician can be extremely impactful for young people of colour who perceive their race or religion to be a barrier between them and their dreams. So the next time I hesitate before going into a new experience, I will think about how Jagmeet Singh must have felt when beginning his campaign, and I will take a leap of faith and walk in there with confidence.

 

  1. (2017). Jagmeet Singh to tackle equality, electoral reform as NDP leader. Global News. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/video/3779164/jagmeet-singh-to-tackle-equality-electoral-reform-as-ndp-leader
  2. Ballingall, A. (2017). Jagmeet Singh calls out NDP opponents on niqab issue in Quebec. The Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/08/26/jagmeet-singh-calls-out-ndp-opponents-on-niqab-issue-in-quebec.html

About The Author

Head Editor

Joined MY Voice in 2013 as a writer, am currently Head Editor, writer and designer in second year university. Enjoys eating, sleeping and occasionally ranting about social injustices.

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