Spread the word » Facebook Twitter

Dear Supporter,

Three years ago, I arrived at Chicago O’Hare airport for a 6:00am flight without my driver’s license, and I was able to get on a plane simply by showing a TSA agent my credit card and a copy of a magazine that had my name and address on it.

Clearly, I am not Sikh.

I have gone my entire academic and professional career without being bullied or discriminated against because of my race or religion. As a white male, I embody the notion of privilege. While my journey might look different than yours, I believe we’re all entitled to the same fundamental human rights and that your voice matters as much as mine. This is why I joined the Sikh Coalition in October as the Senior Director of Media and Communications.

I will always remember sitting in a conference room in January 2012, when the Sikh Coalition team told me about their smartphone application they were planning to launch, which would enable travelers to immediately report cases of profiling to authorities. My eyes lit up, and I remember saying: “This is the best media idea I have heard in three years.” An advocacy organization had never used technology to influence policy work before. I was floored by the ingenuity and ambition used to take such a groundbreaking approach to their work. When the application was launched, it became clear that the national media agreed with me, and many organizations have since followed the Sikh Coalition’s lead, replicating similar civil rights applications.

I will also never forget the call I received on the morning of August 5, 2012. It was the Sikh Coalition telling me that there had been a shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, at the Sikh Gurdwara. I rushed out of the gym to get back to my office, feeling devastated that a community I cared so deeply about was in crisis. Over the next month, I provided media and communications support to the Sikh Coalition and the community at large. Through the lens of this tragedy, I witnessed moments of inspiring leadership, courage, and unwavering professionalism in a time of great stress, fatigue, and sadness. A year later, as I worked with the Sikh Coalition to place Op-Eds commemorating the anniversary all over the country, I was inspired yet again by the talent that exists throughout the Sikh community, the challenges each and every one of you face, and the incredible results that can be achieved when a community believes in the power of sharing their voice.

Over the next year, I plan to aggressively move this organization and the issues you care about forward, consistently and proactively, into the media’s eyes; however, I cannot do that work without your support today. We must immediately close the fundraising gap on our goal, and that starts with you right now.

I believe that historians will look back on the years that followed 9/11 as one of the darkest periods in American history, with many of the most troubling chapters being the policies, practices, and misguided treatment aimed at minority communities.

I joined the Sikh Coalition to work for an organization that has a proven track record of being professional, resourceful, ambitious, and kind while working to deliver results. It is organizations like the Sikh Coalition that provide a path forward toward a better future for all Americans.

I’m excited to be here. I hope you will join me in donating as I stand to fight by your side.

Chardi Kala!

Mark Reading-Smith
Senior Director, Media & Communications
The Sikh Coalition

If you would like to be removed from our mailing list, please click here.