Solidarity & Vigilance in Response to Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack
“Our hearts break for everybody who is suffering through the unimaginable trauma and grief in Pittsburgh right now,” said Sikh Coalition Executive Director Satjeet Kaur. “As we know, no community should ever feel unsafe in their house of worship, and Sikhs nationwide stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters as we grieve together.”
On October 27, 2018, a shooter walked into the Tree of Life Congregation, a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, and reportedly yelled violent, anti-Semitic words before killing eleven people and injuring several more. In response to this tragic act of violence
, the Sikh Coalition calmly urges sangat members to know their rights, remain vigilant and always report cases of bias, bigotry and backlash. Also, please join us in sending messages of solidarity, love and support
to the Tree of Life synagogue. These messages will be delivered to the Jewish community by the Greater Pittsburgh-area sangat.
Fateh! Arizona Board of Education Approves Sikhism
The Arizona State Board of Education voted on October 22, 2018, to approve new history and social science standards
, which, for the first time include Sikhism and several other world religions. As a result of our collective advocacy, the Arizona public school system has dramatically improved the state’s diversity education and religious literacy relating to Sikhs, other minority faiths and marginalized communities.
Due to the Sikh Coalition’s multi-year national campaign to make classrooms safer and more inclusive, Arizona joins New York, New Jersey, Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, Idaho and California as the latest state to include accurate information about Sikhism in state standards. This means up to 15 million students in these states have an opportunity to learn about Sikhs.
Your Support is Critical to Building Community Power
The Sikh Coalition has launched its fundraising campaign to raise $1.2 million before the end of the year to make sure our robust work continues in 2019. As a result of the sangat's previous support
, our work has included successfully partnering with community leaders for Sikh inclusion in state education standards in Arizona and Colorado. We supported sangats affected by hate crimes and reached millions through the Sikh episode of Emmy Award-winning CNN show, United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell
. When officials spewed bigotry and hate, we held them accountable, like former Bergen County, NJ sheriff Michael Saudino. These are a few of our 2018 accomplishments as we continue to respond to over 200 free legal aid requests per year.
We need each of you to join us in our year-end fundraising campaign
, and we need you to help us fight for civil rights in 2019 and beyond. We simply cannot do this work without you
34 years ago in the first days of November, violent pogroms claimed the lives of thousands of Sikhs in India. Not only was the Indian state silent, it was complicit. Here are a few resources to ensure that we collectively remember the events as we continue our collective struggle for justice:
CA SAAM: Sikh Project Exhibition, NBA Game & More
For the seventh consecutive year, the Sikh Coalition is excited to celebrate November as California Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month (SAAM). We jumpstarted a month of Sikh awareness by hosting the fifth annual Sikh Awareness & Appreciation Night
with the Los Angeles Clippers and launched the Sikh Project photography exhibition
at the California Museum in Sacramento, CA.
At the start of November, several members of our team headed to the Yuba City Nagar Kirtan
, one of the largest gatherings of Sikhs in the United States, with an estimated 100,000+ people in attendance. We hosted family-friendly activities while sharing our legal and education resources with the nearly 1,200 community members who came to our booth. It’s not too late to join us in celebrating, educating and empowering our communities! If you or somebody you know lives in California, learn how you can get involved
in Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month.
On November 1, 2018, Specialist Gurpreet Singh Cheema successfully graduated from Basic Combat Training
. After graduation, he moves onto one final phase to complete his Advanced Individual Training before he will be assigned to a duty station, where he will serve full-time active duty as a Financial Management Specialist. This graduation marks another community milestone in the progress of Sikhs further breaking employment discrimination barriers in the U.S. military.
Imploring Action & Accountability In Response To New FBI Hate Crime Stats
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released another alarming, but still flawed annual report on November 13, 2018, regarding hate crime in the United States.
The FBI report details hate crimes rising in 2017 for the third consecutive year with 8,437 hate crime offenses, including 24 anti-Sikh hate crimes. The 243% increase in anti-Sikh hate crimes and overall 16.7% increase since the 2016 report underscores that hate in America continues to surge. However, due to systemic underreporting, there remains a significant gap between FBI hate crime data and the reality on the ground for Sikhs and other minority communities across the United States. Learn more in our press release
; read coverage in USA Today
and New York Times
Taxi Know Your Rights Resource Launch
There are several thousand Sikh cab and rideshare drivers in the United States and the job remains uniquely vulnerable to bias, bigotry and backlash. As part of the Sikh Coalition’s never-ending work to protect your rights, we have developed a new Taxi Cab/Rideshare Know Your Rights guide
that is specifically designed to make sure that Sikh drivers are taking all of the necessary precautions when driving.
If you or somebody you know drives for a living, we strongly encourage you to share this guide. It’s available in English and Punjabi, and printed versions are readily available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Media & Communications Manager Hired; Senior Staff Attorney Position Still Open
The Sikh Coalition is excited to announce the hiring of our new Communications and Media Manager, Harkeet Singh. In this role, Harkeet will be working from our NYC office with the rest of our communications department to support our programmatic goals and drive our multi-year plan for positively raising Sikh awareness to millions of Americans.
In addition, we are currently hiring for a Senior Staff Attorney
based in our New York City headquarters. This attorney will provide direct legal assistance and advocate on behalf of Sikhs who have been discriminated against or subject to bias based on their religious beliefs or Sikh identity. Please learn more about our opening, spread the word, and if you are interested and qualified, apply today
Informing Educators at Social Studies Conferences
The Sikh Coalition provided teacher training, lesson plans and classroom resources last month to hundreds of educators across Florida and Georgia's annual social studies conference. At each conference, we disseminated our new Sikhism Educator's Guide
and teaching resources from our newly-launched Back to School Toolkit
. Executive Director Satjeet Kaur also delivered a keynote workshop at the Florida Council for the Social Studies.
We will continue partnering with policymakers, educators, school officials and textbook companies to systematically improve education about the Sikh faith and traditions.
Presenting Sikh Perspectives at Convenings
Over the past month, the Sikh Coalition attended two annual convenings that work to advance religious literacy and overcome some of our greatest global challenges, including combating bias and discrimination.
Legal Director Amrith Kaur and Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh delivered keynote addresses and spoke on several panels at the Parliament of World Religions in early November. This meeting, which was held in Toronto, Canada, brought together thousands of attendees from scores of countries and representing various world religions. Additionally, we represented the Sikh perspective at a gathering of Chief Diversity Officers from multinational corporations, sponsored by Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. At the annual symposium, Amrith addressed employment discrimination and how to create equal employment opportunities for Sikhs.
Tackling Discrimination & Bullying
On October 12, 2018, the Sikh Coalition was invited to a forum organized by California State Assemblymember Kansen Chu to speak about the work we do in schools to prevent bullying. Southern California Community Development Manager Inderpreet Kaur presented our Go Home Terrorist
report, our recently-released Sikhism Educator's Guide
and other resources that address the interlocking issues of inclusive education and school bullying. We presented to over 70 educators, county officials, interfaith leaders and students.
In addition, the Sikh Coalition attended a hearing on discrimination against Muslim, Arab, South Asian, Jewish and Sikh communities
held by the New York City Council - Committee on Civil and Human Rights. Staff Attorney Giselle Klapper presented testimony on the harassment, discrimination and hate violence the Sikh community faces.
Supporting Religious Literacy Efforts By The National Association of Broadcasters
On October 22, 2018, Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh and Senior Media & Communications Director Mark Reading-Smith joined the National Association of Broadcasters in Washington, D.C. to support the launch of their new “Religion in Reporting” toolkit for broadcast newsrooms. Simran Jeet Singh also participated in a panel discussion on the importance of religious literacy in reporting at the launch. Earlier this year, we rolled out the first-ever Sikhism Reporter’s Guide
to better educate reporters on how to cover the Sikh community accurately.
In this Issue