Dear Supporters,

You don’t have to be an academic to understand that how we educate the public about Sikhism has an enormous impact on how the rest of the world perceives us. As a Sikh man, there isn’t a single day that goes by, when I don’t have a moment or share an interaction that makes me think about the importance of this education. I know I’m not alone and few would disagree that educating mainstream America about Sikhi plays a direct role in reducing discrimination and bigotry.

In the late 1990s, I remember writing to the Encyclopedia Britannica and the American Heritage Dictionary, both of which misrepresented Sikhism as a cocktail blending Hindu and Islamic traditions. Letter after letter from many others and me went without a response. During that time it became abundantly clear to me that we lacked the institutions and the credibility to be taken seriously by publishers.

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Dear Supporters,

Through the tireless advocacy work led by the Sikh Coalition, the Sikh community recently achieved a game-changing education victory in the state of Texas. My seven and nine-year-old sons will become some of the first American Sikh children to go through a school system in the United States where their faith is appropriately integrated and accurately taught through their school’s curriculum.

While Texas adopted these curriculum changes back in 2010, only last month did they vote to approve purchasing textbooks that correct over 50 inaccurate errors regarding the Sikh religion; however, this is far from just a victory that will change the lives of only my children.

The Texas decision now paves the way for up to 46 other states across the country to adopt the same textbook content.

As a mother, I know I speak for every parent when I say that this should be standard for all our children in every classroom across the United States. There is no organization fighting harder and more effectively for that to happen than the Sikh Coalition.

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Dear Supporter,

In the early morning hours after September 11, 2013, I got drunk and assaulted an innocent Sikh man. I charged him, forcefully knocking off his turban. He had done nothing to warrant my actions, I had simply hit rock bottom with my career and my drinking. He was simply in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time.

After the assault, I fled.

The victim chased me and once the police arrived and I had sobered, I immediately knew I had done something horribly wrong; however, it never dawned on me that my assault could be prosecuted as a hate crime.

At the request of the Sikh victim I assaulted and the Sikh Coalition’s legal team, I was given 72 hours of mandatory community service. To my great surprise, the Sikh Coalition requested that I spend those hours volunteering with them. Over four months, those hours would permanently alter the course of my life.

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Dear Supporters,

Three years ago, I arrived at Chicago O’Hare airport for a 6:00am flight without my driver’s license, and I was able to get on a plane simply by showing a TSA agent my credit card and a copy of a magazine that had my name and address on it.

Clearly, I am not Sikh.

I have gone my entire academic and professional career without being bullied or discriminated against because of my race or religion. As a white male, I embody the notion of privilege. While my journey might look different than yours, I believe we’re all entitled to the same fundamental human rights and that your voice matters as much as mine. This is why I joined the Sikh Coalition in October as the Senior Director of Media and Communications.

I will always remember sitting in a conference room in January 2012, when the Sikh Coalition team told me about their smartphone application they were planning to launch, which would enable travelers to immediately report cases of profiling to authorities. My eyes lit up, and I remember saying: “This is the best media idea I have heard in three years.” An advocacy organization had never used technology to influence policy work before. I was floored by the ingenuity and ambition used to take such a groundbreaking approach to their work. When the application was launched, it became clear that the national media agreed with me, and many organizations have since followed the Sikh Coalition’s lead, replicating similar civil rights applications.

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Dear Sadh Sangat Ji

This past July my husband, Sandeep Singh, was called a “terrorist,” and told to “go back to your country,” before being dragged for 30 feet under a truck, and then left to die.

I was born and raised in the United States and I never thought this could happen to me. I never thought that one day my family would come face-to-face with hate-related violence and that it would change our lives.

These past four months have been incredibly hard, but on the heels of this past Thanksgiving weekend, I’m unbelievably thankful that with Waheguru’s kirpa my husband is on the road to recovery, that the criminal responsible for this act was apprehended, and that I had the legal and advocacy support of the Sikh Coalition to help navigate us through this traumatic period in our lives.

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Dear Sadh Sangat Ji

As a child growing up outside of Richmond, Virginia, I felt a tremendous sense of pride each November when my family came together to count our blessings with Ardaas before our Thanksgiving meal – a combination of turkey and stuffing side-by-side with dal, roti, and sabzi. This week remains an annual reminder of how compatible our faith and culture are with our American traditions and values.

However, I also recall the tremendous discrimination I battled as a young Sikh being raised in Virginia. While we gave presentations to our schools, churches, and local law enforcement, it felt like a drop in the bucket in the face of misunderstanding about the Sikh faith. Through high school, college and then on to the workplace, I constantly felt like I was in a race to inform and educate as many people as I could before something happened.

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by Weber Drummond a/k/a Jasnam Daya Singh

In the piece below, an Oregon Sikh resident discusses the day he was escorted off an American Airlines flight in handcuffs because of his Sikh appearance.

Some days we don’t forget. For me, that day was November 4, 2010.

I have been traveling for over 30 years. Originally from Brazil, I visit my family and friends at least once a year, and as a musician I travel quite extensively across the United States and Europe to perform. Airports and airplanes are no strangers to me and I’m very familiar with the ways of traveling before and after September 11. Many things have changed, this I know. However, these changes haven’t made a difference in the way I travel. I’ve maintained the same behavior while at the airport and while airborne – one of respect and compliance with the professionals on the ground and on board, and with my fellow passengers.

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“Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.” – African Proverb

Like Sikhs worldwide, the Sikh Coalition solemnly remembers the 30th anniversary of the events of 1984, a turning point in modern Sikh history.

Thirty years ago, Sikhs in India were hunted.  They were hunted by the Indian Army at Darbar Sahib in Amritsar during Operation Bluestar.  They were hunted by Indian troops in the villages of Punjab during Operation Woodrose.  They were hunted by government-orchestrated mobs in urban cities throughout India following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.  Although thousands of Sikhs were killed because of their Sikh identity in 1984, their stories are still being written in ways that glorify the hunter.

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The following remarks were delivered by Inni Kaur at the Pentagon’s first-ever event to commemorate the Sikh faith on April 25, 2014. Hosted by the Office of the Pentagon Chaplain, the program was organized by Major Kalsi, Captain Rattan, Corporal Lamba, and the Sikh Coalition, an organization leading the campaign for turbaned Sikhs and other people of faith to be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.

Today, we have gathered here for Vaisakhi, a spring harvest festival which is celebrated by Punjabi farmers and many South Asian communities.

However, Vaisakhi has a very special significance for the Sikh community. It was the Vaisakhi of 1699, when the tenth of the Sikh Guru-Prophets — Guru Gobind Singh — invited his disciples to join him in the city of Anandpur Sahib, Panjab.

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By: Noor Kaur (Age 13)

From the panel of inspiring women, I learned many, many things. But the first thing that I remember when I think of this day, is that the only way to succeed, to make a lasting change in the world, is to be the warrior that you are waiting for. Princess is a term that people misunderstand. They think of a pretty girl, with her nails done perfectly, flawless hair, and a fragile personality. And (unfortunately) I believed this as well. I would always wonder that if Guru Gobind Ji announced that men and women were equal, why women would be known as “princess” and men as “lion”. Why were we the delicate daisy that always needed someone to help her down the stairs and pull the chair back for her at the dinner table.

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