In new memoir, Jagmeet Singh talks of rough childhood & sexual abuse

He’s talked in the past about the racial slurs and bullying he suffered while growing up here, and how that motivated hi...

Singh, 40, lived in South Windsor from the age of seven to 23, though he attended private school in Michigan from Grade 6 to Grade 12 and was mostly away at university after high school. Love and Courage: My Story of Family, Resilience and Overcoming the Unexpected comes out Tuesday, but the Toronto Star published an excerpt on the weekend “detailing some of the racial and sexual abuse Singh was subjected to when he lived in Windsor and was in grade school.”

He’s talked in the past about the racial slurs and bullying he suffered while growing up here, and how that motivated him towards his lifelong love of martial arts. In his memoir, according to the Toronto Star, he recounts how he began learning tae kwon do from an instructor he referred to only as “Mr. N” who is now dead...

...“I love it,” Singh said at the time. “I had an incredible childhood. I spent lots of time at Budimir Library. I had friends and we hung out along Cabana Road around Askin and Randolph.”

In the excerpt, Singh recounts how one boy during recess asked if he was brown because he didn’t shower, and how another boy whispered: “Dirty.” Then he was attacked from behind, he said. “Suddenly I felt my topknot being pulled and then a hard shove knocking me to the ground almost simultaneously,” he writes. “I hit the grass hard and felt a sharp strain in my neck.”

He jumped to his feet to confront his assailants, he said. “They were pointing and laughing at my patka, my small head wrap, half pulled off my head. My knees were covered in grass stains. I launched toward them with my hands up, yelling, ‘Let’s go!’”

He said at one point in his childhood, he went from calling himself Jimmy to Jagmeet.

“I also went from a regular bowl cut to wrapping my long hair in a patka. I thought I was making a personal decision about who I was, not inviting a new world of bullying.” Then, as soon as he hit Grade 4, “the bullying became relentless. It wasn’t just at school but wherever I went. I was stared at, mocked, made fun of, and often assaulted for the way I looked.”

He was called “diaper head,” “paki” and “Jughead” instead of Jagmeet.

The more insults he heard, the less tolerant he became, he said. Though afraid and unsure, he fought back, the memoir says.

“‘What’s up? You got something to say, say it to my face!’ I said, shoving them and getting pushed back,” he writes. “Within seconds, we’d be swinging fists until a teacher broke up the fight and made us stand against the wall for the rest of recess.”

Singh said his mother knew about the insults and fights. Though she wanted him to focus on his studies, instead, she never discouraged him from standing up to bullies, Singh said.

“She was never willing to tolerate racism, and she didn’t want her kids to have to put up with it either.”

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