Stopped at a rural intersection outside of Bakersfield, California I watched as a man wearing a turban slowly steered his 18-wheeler through the traffic light. In bold letters the words “Sandhu Express” clarified the man’s Sikh identity. I grew up exploring the I-5 and the paved tributaries that feed it. This image of a Sikh man so fully owning his ethnic and religious identities did not fit into my own stereotyped image of the trucking industry at large. I was curious to learn more.
I found that “The North American Punjabi Trucking Association (NAPTA) estimates that Sikhs control about 40% of trucking in California” (The Economist). That statistic only peaked my interest further. I made a few phone calls and eventually made a connection to a member of the Sikh truck driving community in Bakersfield who was willing to help me. These images were taken over the course of a day at that yard in Bakersfield.
I hope to return to Bakersfield to complete an extended version of this project.