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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
August 10, 2013
  • Remembering Oak Creek: One Year Later

    One year ago, a gunman attacked a Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six worshippers and injuring several others. As we honor those who lost their lives that day—Paramjit Kaur Saini, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Suvegh Singh Khattra, and Satwant Singh Kaleka—and pray for the full recovery of those who were critically injured—Baba Punjab Singh, Bhai Santokh Singh, and Lt. Brian Murphy—we are proud that Sikh Americans nationwide have responded to this tragedy with open hearts and heads held high, consistent with the Sikh belief in Chardi Kala (eternal optimism).

    Click here for pictures from the candlelight vigil in Oak Creek.
  • Sikh Coalition Media Work During Oak Creek One Year Anniversary

    During the remembrance of the one year Oak Creek anniversary tragedy, the Sikh Coalition worked hard to both project a positive image of the community while honestly sharing continuing national concerns about discrimination and violence in America. Here is some of the coverage from the week:

  • Sikh Coalition Staff and Advocate Academy Graduates Staff Publish Op-Eds Discussing Oak Creek

    During remembrance of the one year Oak Creek anniversary tragedy, major newspapers from around the country printed eight separate Opinion Editorial pieces written by Sikh Coalition Advocate Academy graduates and Sikh Coalition staff.

    The placement of Opinion Editorial pieces is a critical, next-level stage of media engagement for the American Sikh community. Kudos to the Sikh Coalition’s trained Advocate Academy graduates for reaching a broad range of newspapers throughout America.

  • National Day of Seva: Community Service and Remembrance

    Inspired by the example of the Oak Creek community, which organized a Memorial Run/Walk to honor those who lost their lives at the Oak Creek Gurdwara last year, Sikh communities nationwide and California’s SEVA organization partnered with the Sikh Coalition on a National Day of Seva (Selfless Service) to pay tribute to the Oak Creek community.

    Detroit Sikhs partnered with Kids Against Hunger to package 20,000 meals for needy families; Houston Sikhs volunteered at a local library and partnered with Urban Harvest to clean a garden at a local elementary school; New York City Sikhs cleaned Morningside Park; and Sikhs in California’s Central Valley and Bay Area packaged and served food to the homeless.

    Click here for pictures from the Chardi Kala 6K Memorial Walk/Run.
    Click here for pictures from Detroit's Day of Seva.
    Click here for pictures from New York City's Day of Seva.
    Click here for pictures from Houston's Day of Seva.
    Click here for pictures from California's Day of Seva.
  • Help Us Make History!

    The Sikh Coalition is calling on its supporters to participate in the campaign to end the presumptive ban on Sikh articles of faith in the U.S. military. Under current U.S. military policy, Sikh soldiers are generally not allowed to maintain their articles of faith—specifically turbans, beards, and unshorn hair. This means that America’s largest, most prominent employer can irrationally exclude many Sikhs.

    Right now, we ask you to sign a petition to President Obama calling for equal opportunity for all Sikhs who wish to serve in our nation's military.
  • Sikh Coalition Invited Back to NYPD for New Officer Training

    The Sikh Coalition was invited back to the New York City Police Academy on June 24, 2013 to train its newest graduating class of police officers. This was the third time the Sikh Coalition has been invited to participate in the officer training. Over 800 New York Police Department (NYPD) recruits were given information about Sikh beliefs, the significance of the turban, and tips on how to interact with Sikh Americans.

    Click here to view photos from the training.
    Click here to read more
  • Sikh Coalition Speaks at DC Press Conference Against Profiling

    On July 30, 2013, the Sikh Coalition spoke at a press conference on Capitol Hill announcing the reintroduction of the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) in the U.S. Congress by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Congressman John Conyers (D-MI). If enacted, the proposed legislation would prohibit law enforcement agents from stopping and investigating individuals solely because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, or religion. The Sikh Coalition’s Director of Law and Policy, Rajdeep Singh, recalled the time he and a Sikh youth activist were profiled on Capitol Hill and also spoke about disproportionate TSA screening of Sikh travelers at American airports.

    One important way that Sikh Coalition supporters can support ERPA is by downloading and using FlyRights, a free smart phone app that allows travelers to file official complaints of mistreatment and discrimination by TSA. The more evidence we have that profiling is occurring at our nation’s airports, the easier it will be for advocates to make the case for ERPA.
  • Sikh Coalition Tapped to Help Welcome US Congressional Delegation to Ellis Island

    The Sikh Coalition's Program Director, Amardeep Singh, along with other faith community leaders, welcomed a United States Congressional delegation to Ellis Island in New York City on July 25, 2013.

    The delegation came to Ellis Island as part of the Faith and Politics Institute's "Becoming America" Pilgrimage, a 4 day experiential trip to New York City for Members of Congress on America's immigration history.

    Pictured here with the Sikh Coalition's Program Director are Senator Mazie Hirono (HI), Rep. Joesph Crowley (NY), Rep. Lincoln Dias Balart (FL), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX), Rep. Lois Capps (CA), Rep. James McGovern (MA), Rep. David Price (NC), and Rep. Susan Davis (CA).

    The Sikh Coalition thanks Congressman Joesph Crowley and the Faith and Politics Institute for the invitation to participate.
  • Lohgarh, Little Sikhs and the Surat Initiative Create New Resources

    As the school year rapidly approaches, several resources are available for teachers and Sikh parents to use to explain Sikhism. Groups like Little Sikhs, the Lohgarh Foundation, and the Surat Initiative have created educational resources to help promote awareness and understanding for all age groups—from pre-school to college–about the Sikh American community.
  • Resources include My First Sikh Books, “How to Tie a Patka” Handout, The Surat Initiative’s Turban Day Package, “Who are the Sikhs” Posters, and “The Sikhs” Brochures (available in 11 languages). If you have an idea for an educational resource to explain Sikhism to non-Sikhs, send us any ideas, questions, or feedback you might have to education@sikhcoalition.org.
  • Sikh Coalition's Textbook Campaign Featured on GetPunjabi TV Channel

    Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba hosts a live show called Nirbhau Nirvair on the GetPunjabi TV channel every week. On July 15, 2013, he interviewed Jaslin Ghosal, a high school student from San Jose, CA to understand more about her world history textbook and its inaccurate depiction of the Sikh community. The Sikh Coalition's Education Director, Manbeena Kaur, called in to the show to give the host and the viewers more information about the Sikh Coalition's efforts to correct misrepresentations of Sikhs in our nation's textbooks.

    Jaslin had approached the Sikh Coalition about the incorrect information in her textbook last year. In one instance, the book had even labeled Sikhs as terrorists. The Sikh Coalition had contacted the publisher with a detailed letter explaining the portions of Jaslin's textbook that were incorrect. The Sikh Coalition urged the publisher to correct the inaccurate statements in future editions of the book. Taking Jaslin's lead, the Sikh Coalition launched the "Throw the Book at Textbook Publishers" campaign this year to determine how widespread this problem is. Currently, the Sikh Coalition has received over 20 excerpts from textbooks, and in each one of them, there is at least one incorrect statement about Sikhs.

    The Sikh Coalition urges everyone who has access to a K - 12 social studies book to review it for any mention of Sikhs or the Sikh faith. If found, please fill out our online form.
  • Sikh Coalition Part of White House Observance of Bhagat Singh Thind's 100 Year Anniversary in America

    On July 12, 2013 the Sikh Coalition took part in the White House's observance of the 100th Year anniversary of Sikh pioneer Bhagat Singh Thind's arrival in the United States. Bhagat Singh Thind was a World War I veteran who fought a historic case that made it to the United States Supreme Court, arguing that Sikhs and Asian Americans more broadly should be granted US Citizenship.

    The Sikh Coalition's Director of Law and Policy, Rajdeep Singh, and Board Member Harpreet Singh took part in the observance along with Sikh Coalition's Program Director, Amardeep Singh. Amardeep Singh spoke about Sikh civil rights struggles in his capacity as a Commissioner of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The Sikh Coalition thanks the White House for honoring Sikh American contributions to our country and Dr. Rajwant Singh for playing the lead role in organizing the event on behalf of the community.
  • Calling All Artists! Submit Your Work for the Nirbhau Nirvair Poetry & Art Book

    Are you interested in writing, drawing, or photography? Can you imagine what a world with Nirbhau Nirvair (without fear, without hate) might look like? Are you interested in becoming a published author or artist? If so, submit your vision of Nirbhau Nirvair to the Sikh Coalition’s Nirbhau Nirvair Art Book!

    Nirbhau Nirvair is an advocacy campaign, led by the Junior Sikh Coalition, to fight hatred and bullying in schools and communities across the nation by spreading the values of Nirbhau and Nirvair. The campaign focuses on anti-bullying efforts by raising awareness on how bullying affects our community and by advocating for legislative changes.

    Click here to learn more about the campaign and requirements for submission.
  • “I’m Not Sorry For My Sari!” Sikh Coalition Appears on HuffPost Live

    On July 17, 2013, Gurjot Kaur, Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney, appeared on a segment on Huffington Post Live on religious and ethnic dress in the workplace. The segment entitled, “I’m Not Sorry For My Sari,” can be watched here. Ms. Kaur discussed legal issues surrounding an employer’s failure to accommodate Sikh turbans, how the law has been manipulated in some states to allow employers to segregate (keep away from the public eye) some minority employees because of their religiously mandated headwear, and corporate and public perceptions and attitudes toward turbans and salwar kameezes.
  • Junior Sikh Coalition Welcomes 16 New Young Activists

    The Junior Sikh Coalition (JSC) has welcomed 16 new members to its team! We’ve just ended a very successful and productive first year, and we’re proud to see eight of our members continuing on for a second term. With eight members staying on for a second year, and 16 new members joining, the JSC has grown to 24 youth members. We’re delighted to welcome each and every member who is starting his or her year with us. We’re looking forward to getting to know our new members, providing them with leadership opportunities and training, and improving our program based on their needs. As this program continues to grow, so does our ability to empower more Sikh youth in our community.
  • Sikh Coalition Op-Ed Calls for Equal Opportunity in U.S. Military

    On July 17, 2013, the Hill—a DC-based newspaper widely read on Capitol Hill—published an essay by the Sikh Coalition’s Director of Law and Policy, Rajdeep Singh, on our community’s campaign to secure equal opportunity in the U.S. Armed Forces. The essay, entitled "Let devout Sikhs serve in the U.S. Military", notes that the White House recently commemorated the life of Bhagat Singh Thind—an early Sikh American pioneer who joined the U.S. Army in 1918—but laments the fact that Thind would not be allowed to serve in the U.S. Military today because of his Sikh identity.

    Aspiring Sikh American soldiers who maintain their articles of faith deserve the right to serve their country without applying for temporary waivers. The Sikh Coalition therefore requests that you sign our petition to President Obama and our letter to Congress demanding equal opportunity for all Sikhs who wish to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Sikh Coalition Legal Director Co-Presents Webinar on Religious Employment Discrimination Law

    On July 11, 2013, Legal Director Harsimran Kaur co-presented a webinar with the California Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) about the state’s strengthened religious employment discrimination law. The Sikh Coalition drafted the new law (AB1964) and was instrumental in advocating for its passage. The webinar was in furtherance of the organization’s ongoing effort to educate the public about the new law and individuals’ expanded rights under the law. MCLE and HRCI credits were available for attorneys and human resources professionals. The webinar can be viewed here.
  • Junior Sikh Coalition Heads to Camp Chardi Kala in August

    Members of the Junior Sikh Coalition (JSC) are gearing up to attend Camp Chardi Kala (CCK) this month. Attending CCK is an integral part of the JSC’s year-long training program, and provides them with necessary background on Sikh values that they will incorporate into their work. It is also the beginning of the supportive Sikh community we hope to foster for the youth. We heartily thank our generous donors who made it possible for the JSC to attend CCK again this year. Thanks to them, no JSC member will be left behind due to financial constraints.
  • Sikh Coalition Launches Community Speaker Series Event with Major Kamaljeet S. Kalsi

    On July 18, 2013, Major Kamaljeet S. Kalsi, the first Sikh to be accommodated in the U.S. Army since the 1980s, spoke at the Sikh Coalition's first Community Speaker Event. Major Kalsi shared his experiences about his fight for religious accommodation to serve in the U.S. Army and his decorated service in Afghanistan.
  • Over 50 community members attended the event and had an opportunity to ask Major Kalsi some inquisitive questions, including whether he ever felt scared or discriminated against by other soldiers and whether he is hopeful the U.S. Armed Forces will lift their ban on Sikh service.

    Click here for pictures from the event.
  • Apply Now! Job Posting: Community Development Manager

    The Sikh Coalition is looking for individuals with a passion for social justice and youth leadership development to become our next Community Development Manager. The ideal candidate will strongly relate to members of the Sikh community, have an outgoing personality, be achievement oriented, gain the trust of community elders and adults and be able to effectively engage various city and state government officials, all with the aim of ultimately empowering the Sikh community to be advocates for their rights.

    If you are interested in applying, please look at the full job description and submit your cover letter and resume to jobs@sikhcoalition.org.
  • Ready to Fight for Sikh Rights?

    My internship with The Sikh Coalition was not only an educational and inspirational experience, but I left knowing that I will be able to take these skills and relationships and use them for the rest of my life.".” -Harleen Kaur, Summer 2013 Social Justice Advocacy Intern

    Come and gain essential experience on how to protect and advocate for civil and human rights for all individuals! Apply today for a fall 2013 internship at our New York City and California office! For more information, click here.
  • Announcing the Third Annual 5K for the 5Ks

    The Sikh Coalition is proud to host its third annual ‘5K for the 5Ks’ Walk/Run in the Bay Area on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at Baylands Park, Sunnyvale, California! Save the date and ask your family and friends to do the same.

    Registration will open on August 15, 2013. Stay tuned for more information and please visit: http://sikhcoalition.org/get-involved/5k-for-the-5ks.

    If you have any questions or are interested in sponsoring the event, please email 5kforthe5ks@sikhcoalition.org.

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