Sikh Coalition Launches End-of-Year Fundraising Effort
As the Sikh Coalition heads into our 20th year, we have continued to empower sangats and stand against hate crimes, employment discrimination, racial profiling, and school bullying--all while shifting resources to better serve the community in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This month, we kicked off our end-of-year fundraising efforts
, with the goal of raising $1.2 million before December 31, 2020. If you are in a position to do so, please consider contributing some of your dasvandh today so that we can continue to serve the community through 2021 and beyond.
Our History is Our Responsibility: Remembering 1984
Thirty-six years ago, from October 31 to November 3, 1984, thousands of Sikhs were hunted and murdered by government-orchestrated mobs throughout India following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Along with Sikhs around the world, the Sikh Coalition marks this solemn occasion as a turning point in our history.
As we recognize the anniversary of these atrocities, it is important to understand the deep history of these events and the issues of state repression and impunity that are still relevant today. Please review this collection of resources
about the events of 1984, the decade of disappearances and extrajudicial executions afterward, and the effects of both on the collective Sikh diaspora.
The Sikh Coalition remains committed to raising awareness about anti-Sikh violence in India and supporting efforts to promote justice and accountability. Our history is our responsibility. It is also our responsibility to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself with our community or any other community.
Announcing Our Social Justice Summit
This week, as Americans continued to process the results of our elections, the Sikh Coalition announced our Social Justice Virtual Summit
--the latest installment in our series of free virtual programming designed to explore deepening Sikh activism in areas of racial and social justice.
This two-day virtual summit is taking place during the weekend of December 5 to 6, and Sikh students and young professionals are encouraged to register early as seating is limited. Throughout the weekend, attendees will join workshops with leaders, activists, and national experts on racial and social justice issues ranging from building the LGBTQ movement, environmental justice through the lens of Indigenous peoples, voter suppression, racial inequalities in health and medicine, and more. Join us for this impactful weekend by registering here.
On Saturday, November 7, major media networks in the United States projected that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and Senator Kamala D. Harris had won the 2020 presidential election. Vice President Elect Harris will break historic barriers and become the first woman, first Black, and first South Asian Vice President.
The tabulation of every vote continues across the nation, with margins in a few states still rendering the final result to be determined or too close to call. This process, in which state and local election officials count every vote, is essential to the continuation of our democracy. Regardless of how the governing landscape changes in 2021, the Sikh Coalition looks forward to continuing to defend and advance the civil rights of Sikh Americans in the halls of power.
Thank You to Our GOTV Sevadaars!
Through the historic 2020 election cycle, the Sikh Coalition was proud to lead the way in mobilizing Sikh Americans towards greater civic participation. We are immensely grateful to the more than 280 sevadaars who signed up to assist with these efforts!
Many sevadaars signed up to push virtual voter registration drives in their sangats; still more joined us for four weekends of a first-of-its-kind phone banking project that made more than 15,000 calls to Sikh voters across the nation. We were also proud to disseminate resources on voting in-person and via mail by way of emails, toolkits, and 14 different appearances in Indian and Punjabi press outlets.
Given the close margins in some states in this election, we are confident that our sevadaars and our shared efforts made a real impact. We look forward to your continued advocacy engagement in 2021 and beyond!
California Updates: Ethnic Studies and Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month
This month, the Sikh Coalition had two updates to share with members of the California sangat.
First, the Sikh Coalition and the Jakara Movement are pleased to share that new recommendations for the California Ethinc Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) include many of our suggested changes and the sample lesson plan that we submitted in March. This is a positive development, but it’s far from finalized. As state education authorities meet next week to discuss these and other proposed edits to the ESMC, we are working to prepare Sikh Californians to speak at this meeting so they can continue advocating for our and other groups’ appropriate representation. We will provide further updates or action items as necessary after the meeting is held.
Second, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the California state legislature did not officially designate November as California “Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month” (SAAM). In May 2020, Assemblymember Ash Kalra introduced the annual SAAM resolution; as has been the case for eight years, it was expected to pass. However, due to COVID-19, the state legislature had to limit the business it prioritized, and resolutions like SAAM were cut. We look forward to re-engaging on SAAM efforts after the pandemic has passed.
Education Work: Sharing Sikh Stories, Virtual Teacher Trainings
As part of National Bullying Prevention Month in October, Education Director Pritpal Kaur delivered virtual trainings on creating safer and more inclusive classrooms to educators in school districts across New Jersey, Michigan, and Georgia. In addition, Education and Community Engagement Manager Harleen Kaur virtually presented "Responding to Hate with Healing and Reconciliation" to social studies teachers at the Georgia Council for the Social Studies conference.
Sikh parents continue to reach educators at the grassroots level by signing up for more than 70 virtual classroom readings of children’s books featuring Sikh protagonists by authors Simran Jeet Singh and Raakhee Mirchandani through our Sharing Sikh Stories campaign. With dozens of readings completed and more still to come, these readings have boosted Sikh awareness and opened up conversations about identity and diversity in classrooms across the country.
Congratulations to A1C Gurchetan Singh
On October 29, Sikh Coalition client Airman First Class (A1C) Gurchetan Singh graduated from Basic Military Training (BMT) at Lackland Air Force Base, TX. A1C Singh is the first Sikh Coalition client to receive a religious accommodation from the U.S. Air Force (USAF).
A1C Singh originally contacted the Sikh Coalition for assistance in January 2019, and we submitted his religious accommodation request to the Washington Air National Guard in April 2019. That accommodation was approved in September 2019. Upon completing BMT, A1C Singh is headed to technical training to continue pursuing his specialization in Cyber Transport Systems.
Further work towards policies that allow articles of faith by our nation’s largest employer, the U.S. Department of Defense, will be critical to ending discrimination in workplaces across the country. If you have more questions about the Sikh Coalition’s work on this issue, you can read our community FAQ
; if you or someone you know needs legal support related to employment discrimination, please reach out to our team
Sikh Awareness Presentations
The Sikh Coalition team recently conducted Sikh awareness presentations for several different audiences. On October 26 and 27, Southern California Community Development Manager Inderpreet Kaur facilitated Sikh awareness presentations for 50 students at Chaminade High School. On November 12, Community Development Director Rucha Kaur presented virtually on Sikhism and the importance of Bandi Chhor Diwas to more than 70 employees at Mars Petcare, a leading provider of pet nutrition. And finally, also on November 12, Advocacy and Community Engagement Fellow Winty Singh facilitated a virtual dialogue on Sikhism and the Sikh community to the FBI Sacramento field office and other law enforcement agencies.
To facilitate a Sikh awareness presentation for your local educators, in your company, or for your local law enforcement agencies, please reach out to email@example.com
On October 29, Legal Director Amrith Kaur virtually attended the annual Dallas-Fort Worth Summit on Religious Freedom, presenting on a panel entitled “Religious Freedom in the Military" alongside the Army Chief of Chaplains Major General Solhjem and Mike Berry of the First Liberty Institute. Amrith presented on the cultural competency training requirement for Chaplains and all other levels of military personnel to create a more inclusive workplace environment for Sikhs and other religious minorities, and the need to adhere to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when protecting the rights of religious minorities to serve if they choose to. Click here
to watch the full panel discussion.
Also, in October, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice released their latest issue of Religious Freedom in Focus
, an update on important efforts in defense of religious freedom. In a section focused on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the Division included mention of a previous Sikh Coalition case from 2011, Basra v. Cate
Tragically, COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to climb throughout the United States. The nation topped 160,000 new cases in a day for the first time on November 12, with several states setting their own single-day case records over the past month; a grand total of 243,000 Americans have died from the pandemic.
If you or a loved one need to seek medical attention, be sure to bring a copy of our healthcare guide
to educate your doctors and nurses on the specific needs and practices of Sikhs. Please also review the rest of our pandemic resources
In this Issue