by We Are Sikhs — February 26, 2020
“It is time that we change the narrative, especially for our children.”
Deanna Singh is a highly respected thought leader who travels the world motivating and educating audiences about living with joy and purpose. A gifted communicator, she is a champion to marginalized communities and an inspiration to all those who want to be agents of change in their work, lives, and society. She has impacted the world as a speaker, a teacher, a principal, a leader of large foundations, a social entrepreneur, a businesswoman, an author, a publisher, and a mother.
Can you share your background and what motivated you to go into the work that you do today?
I watched my family chart their own path in America. They created all kinds of amazing opportunities for me because of their tenacity, sacrifice, and courage. I want to do the same for others. In our family, we had a large focus on education, entrepreneurship, and service. We also were taught to have pride in our heritage and to not be afraid to take on leadership roles. I love doing work in diversity, equity, and inclusion and in leadership because I can share the things that we were taught as children. I am also motivated by the younger generation. I have two amazing children, and my hope is that when they look at the work that I have dedicated my life to, they will be inspired and equipped to have an even larger impact.
How has a Sikh background influenced you?
One of the most important things I have learned from Sikhism is the idea of Seva. Selfless service is an important part of who I am at my core. I define my purpose in life as shifting power to marginalized communities. That purpose was heavily influenced by the concept of Seva. How can we truly serve our community if we are not willing to change the power dynamic and become a servant to our community?
What is the story of Cloth Crown?
The book tells the story of a Sikh boy who is teased for wearing his patka (turban) at school. As a result of the bullying, he wants to cut his hair. His father details his own story of dealing with bullies and explains to his son why he decided not to cut his hair as a child.
Why did you write Cloth Crown?
I wrote Cloth Crown because I wanted to pay respect to the men and boys in my life that have chosen to keep their hair covered. I know that it can be a hard decision and that there are sometimes negative consequences. This story seeks to empower young boys in the Sikh community to know they are valued.
I also know that not many people know the significance of the turban. My hope is that this book will help other people, especially other children, understand.
How can we support Cloth Crown?
There are a number of ways that you can support Cloth Crown! First, please get a copy of the book for your school’s library and the children in your life! The more people who have the book, the greater the impact.
What are some future aspirations of yours?
I hope to one day turn the Story to Tell Books imprint into a full publishing house. I think that there are so many stories, particularly those of children of color, that are not being told. There are also a lot of writers and artists that are looking for somewhere to showcase their talents. I would love to be able to be the vehicle that gets those stories and artists the opportunity to shine.
Could you give some advice to a younger audience who may want to go into work like yours?
Figure out what you are uniquely positioned to do in the world. Think about your experiences, your skills, and your passions and do the work that brings joy to your heart and makes a positive impact on the lives of others. Then, as I write about in my leadership book, Hustle with Purpose!