Remain Vigilant in Wake of Recent Attacks
In response to two recent vicious assaults against Sikhs in Keyes, CA and Manteca, CA, the Sikh Coalition urged sangat members to know their rights, remain vigilant and always report cases of bias, bigotry and backlash.
The Sikh Coalition’s legal team has been in direct contact with community members and local law enforcement in both cases to offer legal aid, advocacy and communications support. Police are investigating the first case that occurred on July 31, 2018 in Keyes, CA as a hate crime. In the most recent assault that took place in Manteca, CA on August 6, 2018, we know that police have arrested two suspects. We are working with local law enforcement and community members to monitor the ongoing investigation and determine the motivating factors.
The Sikh Coalition provides completely free and confidential legal assistance to Sikhs who have been discriminated against or subject to bias based upon their religious beliefs or identity.
Commemorating Six-Year Anniversary of Oak Creek Shooting
On August 5, 2018, our nation commemorated the six-year anniversary of the tragic Oak Creek, Wisconsin gurdwara shooting that took the lives of six Sikhs and injured several more.
We solemnly remember Paramjit Kaur Saini, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, Prakash Singh, Suveg Singh Khattra, and Satwant Singh Kaleka. We continue to be inspired by the perseverance of those who were critically injured, including Baba Punjab Singh, Bhai Santokh Singh, and Lt. Brian Murphy. And we admire the strength of the entire Oak Creek sangat, which sets a powerful example of resilience for the entire nation.
28 Day of Seva Projects to #RememberOakCreek
During the weekend of August 4-5, 2018, the Sikh Coalition partnered with Sikh leaders from coast to coast for the sixth annual National Day of Seva (selfless community service). Inspired by the Oak Creek community’s resilience and chardi kala (Sikh concept of eternal optimism), this initiative honors those who lost their lives and loved ones at the Oak Creek, Wisconsin gurdwara on August 5, 2012.
Seva is an integral part of the Sikh tradition. Nationwide, Sikhs and non-Sikhs participated in 28 community service projects in 27 cities, with some projects taking place in the coming days. This tops last year’s record to make 2018 the largest event in the six-year history of National Day of Seva. Click here to view pictures from seva events across the United States. Read news coverage from projects in Bakersfield, CA and Oakland, NJ.
Offensive NJ Radio Comments Offer Opportunity to Educate
On July 25, 2018, radio hosts at NJ 101.5 verbalized disrespectful comments about New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, calling him “turban man,” and adding, “If that offends you, then don’t wear the turban and maybe I’ll remember your name.”
In response to these ignorant comments about Mr. Grewal and the Sikh community, we immediately urged for a public apology from the hosts and station, and called for trainings for all staff members. Our media and communications rapid response work helped bring local and national attention to the media-amplified offensive language in a climate in which our communities are subject to discrimination, harassment and violence.
The station and hosts have issued public apologies, and the Sikh Coalition is now working with Townsquare Media, the owner of the NJ radio station, to provide Sikh awareness and additional diversity trainings for employees of the media company as we pursue long-term strategies for restorative justice.
Military Campaign Continues to Break Discrimination Barriers
On August 5, 2018, Second Lieutenant Kanwar Singh successfully graduated from Army Officer Candidate School as part of the Massachusetts Army National Guard. He will now be responsible for leading soldiers during humanitarian, homeland security and combat operations as a Signal Corps officer.
This graduation marks a touchstone moment in the progress of Sikhs breaking employment discrimination barriers in the U.S. military. It follows an eight year campaign spearheaded by the Sikh Coalition to end the U.S. military’s presumptive ban on the service of observant Sikhs. Learn more here, view photos here, and read the local NPR station’s coverage of the graduation and our #LetSikhsServe campaign.
Empowering Youth at Sikh Camps Nationwide
This summer, the Sikh Coalition’s Community Development team has traveled to multiple Sikh camps to conduct a series of workshops with Sikh youth. These workshops include combating bullying in schools, creating Sikhi elevator pitches, and discussing the intersectionality of privilege and the Sikh value of justice.
So far, the team has conducted workshops at the Central Jersey Sikh Association in Windsor, NJ; Sikh Foundation of Virginia in Burke, Virginia; Camp Gian in Los Angeles, CA; Camp Gurmat in Albany, NY; an interfaith leadership program in Los Angeles, CA; Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Sikh Center in Queens, NY; and the 23rd annual gurmat camp hosted by Guru Harkishan Institute of Sikh Studies in Rockville, Maryland. Our Community Development team continues to work with Sikh youth nationwide by engaging additional camps this August.
New Educational Video Reaches College Students Nationwide
On July 16, 2018, the Sikh Coalition announced a collaborative educational video project with the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) that has the long-term potential to educate many thousands of college students about Sikhism nationwide. Click here to watch the video, which features cartoonist and SALDEF Creative Arts and Diversity Fellow Vishavjit Singh.
Pearson PLC, which is the largest book publisher and education company in the world, employed Blue Chalk Media to produce the video. The Sikh Coalition teamed up with SALDEF to support Blue Chalk with the background research and subject sourcing for the production. This video project now serves as supplemental online content for two world religion textbooks, Living Religions and World Religions, as students learn about Sikhism.
Junior Sikh Coalition Kicks-off Another Year
This month, the Junior Sikh Coalition (JSC) kicked off their 2018-2019 year with a series of social justice trainings and workshops hosted by Sikh Coalition staff and outside guest presenters. In addition, a reception celebrated the incoming JSC class and recognized achievements from last year’s graduating class. Next week, the youth leaders will attend Camp Chardi Kala to grow their connection to Sikhi and conduct anti-bullying workshops with camp attendees.
Click here to view pictures from the social justice bootcamp.
Honoring Victims of Afghanistan Bombing in Congress
On August 1, 2018, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey recorded a statement into the Congressional Record regarding the July 1, 2018 suicide bombing in Afghanistan that targeted the country’s Sikh and Hindu minorities. In a country where they have been subjected to discrimination, harassment and violence, the small community of Afghan Sikhs have been working to build political power and fighting for human rights. Senator Menendez’s statement helps highlight the struggle and devastating violence faced by religious minorities abroad. The Sikh Coalition is honored to have worked with Senator Menendez to bring attention to the Sikh and Hindu communities targeted in Afghanistan.
Click here to read Senator Menendez’s full statement.
Opposing the Addition of the 2020 Census Citizenship Question
In August, the Sikh Coalition encouraged Sikhs to speak out against the addition of a citizenship status question to the 2020 Census by submitting a public comment. The last time the U.S. government asked people about their citizenship on the Census, the information was used to identify and force Japanese-Americans into internment camps in the 1940s. This question was added in haste and deters individuals from responding out of fear as to how this data could be used. The action drew over a hundred comments from sangat members across the country who spoke against the citizenship question through a public forum and social media engagement.
Do you have a passion for civil rights? The Sikh Coalition is currently hiring for two full-time positions based in our New York City headquarters.
The Operations Manager will oversee the organization’s finances to ensure fiscal responsibility and compliance, further develop the technology infrastructure, manage human resources and the day-to-day functioning of the office, and provide support to special projects and events. The Media & Communications Manager will be responsible for managing projects across all of the organization’s various communications channels. This work includes: website management, email management, graphic design, community engagement collateral, fund development collateral, traditional media engagement and social media expertise.
Senior Religion Fellow Joins News Agency as Columnist
In July, Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh joined Religion News Service as a featured columnist. He leverages his expertise on the intersection of racism, cultural literacy and Islamophobia to write and speak regularly on issues such as diversity, equity, justice, cultural literacy and representation. He will also continue to serve in his role at the Sikh Coalition.
Interfaith Conference Connects Religious Leaders and Activists
On July 29, 2018, Executive Director Satjeet Kaur participated in a keynote panel at the Reimagining Interfaith Conference in Washington, DC. Her speech echoed the importance of keeping interfaith spaces inclusive for all communities and using interfaith dialogue as a tool to stand in solidarity and speak up about injustices.
Other speakers during the panel included the Union for Reform Judaism’s Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy Rabbi David Saperstein, the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers’ Director of the Secretariat Dr. Mohamed Elsanousi, and The Faith Matters Network’s Executive Director Reverend Jennifer Bailey.
Policy Conference Features Interfaith Panel
On August 2, 2018, Sikh Coalition Senior Manager of Policy & Advocacy Sim J. Singh participated in an interfaith panel at Netroots Nation, the largest progressive policy conference in the United States, which over 3,000 people attended this year. He shared perspectives on how the Sikh community has been fighting for and securing a more inclusive and equitable society. The panel consisted of Sikh, Muslim, Christian and Jewish voices sharing perspectives on bringing policy changes to the Washington, DC establishment and the rest of the country. Other panelists included Afif Rahman from Poligon Education Fund, Reverend Jennifer Jones from Faith in Action and Josh Protas from Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger.
In this Issue