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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
February 20, 2021
  • Updates on our #FarmersProtest Work

    The Sikh Coalition continues to advocate around the farmers’ protest. On President Biden’s first full day in office, the Sikh Coalition sent a letter urging the new administration to support India’s farmers and take a stand for human rights; we sent another letter in the aftermath of the January 26 Delhi tractor rally urging the administration to condemn recent acts of violence against the protestors and, again, stand for human rights in India. Please consider amplifying the specific asks in this letter, and review the draft proclamation language if you are interested in reaching out to your elected officials.

    In the past two weeks, the Sikh Coalition has also denounced the State Department’s weak statement on the situation in India and called on press freedom organizations to raise the alarm about the treatment of Indian reporters. On Tuesday, 75 organizations placed a one-page advertisement in the New York Times to stand in solidarity with the farmers of India. The Sikh Coalition is grateful to this group of civil rights, legal, and community organizations, led by Justice for Migrant Women, for speaking out both in support of the farmers and against the Indian government’s anti-democratic response.
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Resources for the Community

    The Sikh Coalition remains committed to providing critical resources and information regarding COVID-19. In 2021, this means helping every Sikh in the United States understand the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

    In partnership with the North American Sikh Medical and Dental Association, the Sikh Family Center, and the Jakara Movement, we are producing and sharing a wide range of vaccine safety and availability information, including:

    • State-by-state resource: This document outlines vaccine information and resources for all 50 states. Because every state has different rules and processes regarding who can get vaccinated first and how, we will continuously update this document with the most up-to-date information.
    • FAQ about COVID-19 vaccines: This video, in English and Punjabi, addresses frequently asked questions like what vaccines are, why vaccines are important, the safety of vaccines, side effects to vaccines, and more.
    • Fast facts on COVID-19 vaccines: This infographic in, English and Punjabi, covers basic information about the two COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States.
    • COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. vs. India: This infographic, in English and Punjabi, explains the basic differences between the vaccines available in the United States and those available in India.
    • Busting common myths about COVID-19 vaccines: This graphic series, in English and Punjabi, identifies some common myths about vaccines and shares accurate information instead. Find the same information in a one-page fact sheet in English and Punjabi to post at your gurdwara or otherwise share.
    • Who are vaccines safe for?: This graphic series, in English and Punjabi, addresses vaccine safety concerns for pregnant people, people with various allergies, people who have already had a COVID-19 infection, and others. Find the same information in a one-page fact sheet in English and Punjabi.
    • COVID-19 Variants: This infographic, in English and Punjabi, shares information about the different ‘variants,’ or mutations, of the virus.
    • Reactions to the COVID-19 Vaccines: This infographic, in English and Punjabi, shares information about common side effects and rarer, more severe adverse events that could happen after the vaccine.

    On Saturday, February 27 from 4 to 6 PM EST, we are hosting a Zoom webinar discussion with physicians and gurdwara leadership that will focus on best practices for gurdwaras and sangat members as we enter the next phase of the pandemic. We welcome all interested sangat members to participate, and we encourage at least one person from your gurdwara’s leadership committee to attend. Click here to RSVP for the webinar.
  • Fateh! New NC State Standards for Social Studies Move Forward

    On February 4, 2021, the North Carolina State Board of Education voted in favor of adopting new K-12 Social Studies Standards that are poised to include Sikhism in the associated content and examples. Once the standards and new materials are implemented, they will provide the opportunity for North Carolina’s 1.4 million public schoolchildren to learn about Sikhism alongside other world religions. To understand more about why this victory matters, read the op-ed from North Carolina father of three Pawanjit Singh.

    The Sikh Coalition would like to thank numerous North Carolina sangat members for their unwavering patience, advocacy, and support throughout this process; this positive outcome is years in the making and only possible because of their shared efforts. Click here to learn more.
  • Justice for Paramjit Singh Sandhu

    Last December, Paramjit Singh Sandhu, an observant Sikh truck driver, faced a violation of his religious rights when he was instructed to report to a medical facility in Sachse, TX, for a routine drug test required by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Unfortunately, staff at a MedPost Urgent Care facility would not allow him to complete the procedure with his dastaar on. This claim was in violation of Mr. Sandhu’s rights--and the regulations of the DOT. Mr. Sandhu rightly refused to remove his dastaar, left the clinic, and consulted the Sikh Coalition for free legal aid. We contacted CareSpot, the parent company of MedPost, and advised them of this violation of the DOT’s religious accommodation policy; we were then able to secure a written accommodation for Mr. Sandhu on January 5, 2021, and he got his drug test soon after.

    If you or someone you know has encountered difficulties relating to employer-mandated drug testing, contact the Sikh Coalition for a free legal consultation in English or Punjabi. No Sikh should have to cut their hair or remove their dastaar when submitting to a drug test. Additionally, for those in the trucking industry, take a moment to review our trucker ‘know your rights’ resource today.
  • Continuing the Fight Against Discrimination

    In the final days of the Trump Administration, the Sikh Coalition fought against last-minute changes to anti-discrimination policies that would affect our and other marginalized communities. With the transition to the new Biden Administration, this important work continues as we keep holding our leaders accountable.

    First, in December, we joined civil rights organizations in successfully opposing a sweeping proposal from former President Trump’s Justice Department that would have changed how the federal government enforced Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

    Second, since November, we have been leading efforts to oppose a new set of religious discrimination guidance by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Unfortunately, the EEOC’s proposal was rushed through the Friday before President Biden’s inauguration. While some of the changes we pushed for were included, we remain concerned that the majority of the new guidance could be harmful to many different groups–including religious minorities–in the long run. Accordingly, we continue working to find ways to revise or improve these changes.
  • New Gurdwara Security Toolkit

    In January, the Sikh Coalition published an updated version of our free Gurdwara Security Toolkit. This resource underscores the importance of gurdwara security and includes information on general emergency preparedness, suggestions on reporting practices, pointers on how to conduct security assessments, details on how to apply for security-related grants, and more. Following the release of our updated toolkit, the Sikh Coalition hosted a gurdwara security webinar focused on the California sangat, featuring representatives from the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the state government.

    Regardless of whether your gurdwara has a security plan in place already or you are just beginning to consider questions of security, contact our team for free assistance in English or Punjabi by calling 212-655-3095 or emailing community@sikhcoalition.org.

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