"I will not allow my likeness to be used in whitewashing"
Canadian poet Rupi Kaur has turned down an invitation from the White House for a Diwali party.
This is due to the US government’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war.
In a lengthy statement on X, Rupi said:
“I’m surprised this administration finds it acceptable to celebrate Diwali when their support of the current atrocities against Palestinians represent the exact opposite of what this holiday means to many of us.”
Rupi said the Diwali event – hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris – was to be held on November 8, 2023.
The statement continued: “I implore my South Asian community to hold this administration accountable.
“As a Sikh woman, I will not allow my likeness to be used in whitewashing this administration’s actions.
“I refuse any invitation from an institution that supports the collective punishment of a trapped civilian population — 50% of whom are children.”
The death toll in Gaza from Israeli strikes has exceeded 10,000 people. A United Nations official said nearly 70% of the victims are women and children.
Israel began its siege against Palestine-based militant group Hamas in retaliation to a surprise attack on October 7, 2023, that left 1,400 dead.
Hamas also captured over 200 hostages.
The US has vowed to supply Israel with missiles and bombs.
Although President Joe Biden has not endorsed growing calls for a ceasefire, he did advocate for a “pause” to aid in the release of Israeli and American hostages being held in Gaza.
Rupi Kaur’s post continued: “As a community, we cannot remain silent or agreeable just to get a seat at the table.
“It comes at too high a cost to human life.
“Many of my contemporaries have told me in private that what’s happening in Gaza is awful, but they aren’t going to risk their livelihood or ‘a chance at creating change from the inside’.
“There is no magical change that will happen from being on the inside. We must be brave.
“We must not be tokenised by their photo-ops. The privilege we lose from speaking up is nothing compared to what Palestinians lose each day because this administration rejects a ceasefire.”
I received an invite from the Biden administration for a Diwali event being held by the VP on nov 8. I decline any invitation from an institution that supports the collective punishment of a trapped civilian population—50% of whom are children. pic.twitter.com/J3V5om89Se
— rupi kaur (@rupikaur_) November 6, 2023
Rupi called on her social media followers to sign petitions, join boycotts and attend protests in support of a ceasefire.
“When a government’s actions dehumanise people anywhere in the world, it is our moral imperative to call for justice.”
Democratic representatives Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, Summer Lee, Andre Carson and Delia Ramirez introduced a resolution in the White House that “urges support for an end to violence in Israel and Occupied Palestine.”
Rupi Kaur went viral in 2015 for her college project where she posted photos on Instagram showing her clothes and bedsheets stained with period blood.
While the project was meant to “demystify the period and make something that is innate ‘normal’ again”, Instagram briefly removed the pictures, but then after receiving backlash, the platform apologised and restored the images to Rupi’s profile.