Home Uncut Interviews Navjot Kaur: Saffron Press

Navjot Kaur: Saffron Press

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Good to know

  • Navjot reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in review copies of her books. I loved them so much I asked to feature her on a Maker Spotlight.
  • Navjot sent me free review copies, which I had intended to give away in a promotion, but then ran into tangles with the legality and red tape of giveaway laws. I still haven’t gotten around to it, so at this point, it’s been so long and my kids have worn them so they’re less *new* and we will probably just keep them. Which is good for us, since they are lovely. But sad for you because I’m not letting them go! Sorry.

Sneak peek: Navjot Kaur’s Interview

1 What challenges did you encounter that inspired you create these books?
Although a voracious reader, I grew up not seeing myself reflected in the books I
read, or within the content of the curriculum taught. I felt invisible. By the time I
became a mother myself, nothing much had changed on the diversity front, as far
as children’s books. When we learned our son was Deaf, my perspective shifted
from the single lens of diversity, to a broader understanding and urgency of
equity and accessibility.
As we read our nightly stack of books, not a single one reflected our family’s
mirror. And even when we found some “diverse” reads, the illustrations reflected
fair south-asians, with nuanced language form, which neither challenged the
social inequities faced by darker-skinned individuals in our community, nor filled
our void.
Despite years of rejections, I believed our stories could not be erased no longer.
Perhaps I did not fit the needs of the traditional publishing market, but I could
still blaze my own trail. Writing became that tool to forge through fears of the
unknown. These books were necessary to create a soft landing space for my child
to fall upon when things got tough, without him losing sight of his own self worth.
He would not be invisible.

2 What single takeaway do you want readers to get from your books?
To feel a personal connection to the story, either as a mirror, or a window into
otherness.

3 What kinds of responses have you gotten from readers?
I was fortunate enough to receive the Skipping Stones Honor Book Award for
Multicultural and International Awareness for my first title – A Lion’s Mane.
Since then, readers have supported the books with their generosity, by supporting
books published by a small independent press. Their kind words and anecdotes
sustain me:
(please let me know if you’d like specific anecdotes or comments here).

 

4 How do you feel about the way people of the Sikh faith* are portrayed in the
media? What common misconceptions keep popping up?
Until very recently, media portrayals have been (and they continue to be) flawed
by stereotypes and misconceptions. I find journalists are becoming more
informed, but it does not deflect from the fact that this has taken years of
advocacy work from various Sikh human-rights organizations to educate the
mainstream population about who we are.
What irks me most is when I hear or read a news story involving a person of
south-asian heritage, and the reporter will almost immediately identify the
person by their faith, as if the media can be certain that physical appearance

determines whether someone does or does not practice the teachings of a
particular faith.
Cultural and faith practices are nuanced based on a person’s life experience.
Judgments cannot be passed on an entire community based on any individual’s
actions. By doing so, an entire community faces bias and suspicion. After 9/11,
our community feared for our lives and experienced countless verbal and physical
threats, based solely on our very visible faith identity and a media that flashed
images of persons in turbans alongside headlines referencing terrorism.
*Do you have preferential phrasing for your community (ex: People of the Sikh
faith, Sikhs…?)
Members of the Sikh community, can be used as a broad term, or Sikhs. (People
may identify as Sikh but may not practice the faith teachings).
As an FYI:
The term “Sikh” means someone who is open to learning each day, and so
although we are born into families who may follow Sikhism, we are not baptized
at birth. It is an individual journey of exploration and discovery. Hope that makes
sense.

5 What challenges do you face as a parent? What keeps you up at night – either
with excitement for the future, or worries?
(Your answers help readers
connect with you as a person, they don't necessarily have to have anything
to do with your work.)
My greatest fear remains facing the unknown with enough courage and integrity
to overcome it. In recent times, the images and events around the world fuelled
by hate and indifference to humanity, has affected me deeply. I have to believe
that we, as a human race, can be better. Our children are watching us and
learning from our (re)actions each day. It all leaves me both anxious and yet,
hopeful.

6 How can readers support the work you do?
The reason our stories remain erased from bookshelves is because gatekeepers
have decided that there is no great need for them. They believe they don’t sell,
especially when featuring an identity that is unknown. Readers can be change
makers and send a powerful message through purchasing choices, and library
requests. That kind of data is tracked, and data drives change.
(Links to Instagram and website)

How can we as a community, support you and your family?
Please reach out if you’re not sure about the context of a book that you’d like to
share with your classroom or family. I ask a lot of questions, so please feel free to
do the same. Diverse books are wonderful to have but do your research. If the
story is misrepresenting any community in order to market itself as a diverse
read, be cautious. The title of a book is as important as the content.
Please join me on Instagram, share your reviews and anecdotes, and “let’s see
what tomorrow brings”.

 

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