I was about to examine a longtime patient when he looked me in the eye and said, “My wife and I saw the CNN episode. I now know who you are, and it has completely opened up my mind.” This stopped me dead in my tracks; I knew he was talking about CNN’s groundbreaking Sikh episode that had just aired.
As a primary care physician for the last 18 years, it is my job to get to know my patients as I care for them. However, this was one of the first times somebody had ever walked into my office excited to share what they had learned about my faith. Usually people ask me about my turban and beard, and know very little. This moment had changed his views on who I am, and the conversation turned into an in-depth discussion about Sikhism.
Like you, when my family watched CNN’s United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell, we celebrated the Sikh story of resilience in America and marveled at how the episode represented our religion and community. When we turned our television off that Sunday night, even my young daughters instantly understood that this moment represented dramatic progress.
It turns out that what happened in my doctor’s office in Mission Viejo, California had also happened to others. Over the last two weeks, I have spoken to other Sikh friends that had similar moving experiences at work and within their communities. There has been an exciting pattern of everyday Americans stopping by to say hello and share what they had learned as they watched the episode.
I am so proud of the Sikh Coalition’s team for their incredible work on this project. When this opportunity materialized, the Sikh Coalition spent months planning and worked with producers, W. Kamau Bell and several community members on every single detail of the project.
The result is that hundreds of thousands of Americans spent a full hour learning about our community while millions more will watch re-airs, DVR the episode or catch video clips on social media, YouTube or Hulu.
We know that this television episode has already reached Americans nationwide, but the impact from this educational moment has only just begun.