Public service announcements about Sikhs on PBS

We are so excited to share another initiative with you all - public service announcements for Valley PBS, the public broadcasting station based in California's Central Valley, that showcase realistic interactions between Sikh children and non-Sikh children. The primary goal of this effort is to educate non-Sikh children about the visual identity of Sikhs and the faith’s core belief in equality in order to prevent bullying.

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15 Years Later: Remembering 9/11 Through Upholding American Freedoms

I wore my favorite outfit that day: light blue track pants, a shirt with rainbow hearts, and a jacket to match. My mother brushed my hair like she did every morning, creating two long, thick braids that could easily be mistaken for black ropes hanging from my head. It was picture day for Ms. Kerr’s fourth grade class and I was determined to look my best. The class was excited, so I didn’t think much when the teacher from the classroom next door stopped by to whisper something to Ms. Kerr, turning both women’s faces into fear. As the day ended, and I walked back home from my bus stop, I would see that same panic on my parents’ faces. “There was an attack in New York,” they said. “We are going to go donate blood.” Stay home. Lock the doors. Stay with your brother. I couldn’t understand why they...

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Honoring Oak Creek through Civic Engagement

On August 5, 2012, a morning of peaceful prayer was pierced with gunshots and terror.  This four-year anniversary of the shooting at the Oak Creek, Wisconsin Gurdwara, where six lives were lost at the hands of a hate-driven gunman, honors not only the lives of Satwant Singh Kaleka, Paramjit Kaur, Sureg Singh Khatta, Prakesh Singh, and Sita Singh, but also the friends, families, and community forever affected by such an act. However, in the four years since this heinous act, neither the misguided hate nor the unnecessary violence has ceased. Sikh Americans have continued to be the victims of hate crimes, including the attack on 68-year-old Amrik Singh Bal in Fresno, California this year. Our youth continue to be bullied. And our community continues to work to change the misunderstanding facing our religion. These are just a few examples of the difficulty we, as Sikh Americans, experience. From the murders...

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Know Your Neighbor

The National Sikh Campaign had a big year. In 2015, we released the most thorough study of Sikh Americans in history – which found how little our fellow Americans know about the religion as well as the key tenets and messages of Sikhism that resonate with them. Based on that research, we have been working on creating videos that educate and resonate with Americans using the preferred messaging. We are air them on television and digitally. Moreover, NSC is also building an innovative, new website that is targeted for an American audience and will provide education, compelling content around the positive contributions of Sikh Americans. Not to mention, we even partnered with NBA and NFL teams to host ‘Sikh Nights’ to spread Sikh awareness! Finally, in conjunction with all of the above, we launched one of our most exciting intiatives at the White House, called “Know Your Neighbor.”   Know...

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Building the Sikh Image in America II: The details behind the most in-depth and comprehensive analysis conducted on the Sikh-American community

Picture of Geoff Garin, Kamal Kalis, United Sikhs, Kaur Foundation, Sikh Coalition, SCORE, and National Sikh Campaign By Gurwin Singh Ahuja and Sumeet Kaur In January, the National Sikh Campaign will release a landmark scientific study that can help shape how Sikhs are viewed across the United States. The study is specifically focused on finding the facts, images, and stories about Sikhi that resonate with the broader American public. This will allow the Sikh community to effectively communicate its values for the first time in the more than 100-year period we have been in this country.  This will be the most methodical study conducted on the Sikh-American community in history.  The study includes qualitative and quantitative research. It incorporates knowledge from past milestones in Sikh American studies: Turban Myths conducted by the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) and Go Home, Terrorist, conducted by the Sikh Coalition. The facts, images and stories about...

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Building the Sikh Image in America

by Gurwin Singh Ahuja, Jivan Singh Achreja, and Neal Singh Sikhism is a faith rooted in a modern doctrine. This is particularly clear for Sikhs in America because the foundational values of their country and their faith have immense parallels. For Sikh Americans, the founding fathers of Sikhi, like the founding fathers of their country, fought for the values of equality, freedom, and justice. Before Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington fought to create a free nation where a person is judged on their merits not their lineage, Guru Nanak Dev Ji criticized the class system, advocated for women’s rights, and promoted racial and religious equality. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji sacrificed his life for religious liberty and protected India from coercive religious extremists. And Guru Gobind Singh Ji created the Khalsa, which abolished the class system and was mandated to fight tyranny and oppression. It’s no surprise hundreds and thousands...

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They Called Me Terrorist

Below is a narrative written by Gurwinder Singh for the White House's Summit on Anti-Bullying. He narrates his experience struggling as a young Sikh who was consistently bullied by his peers and overcoming those obstacles.  I haven’t told anyone some of these stories until now. I feel relieved. I think it’s good to share what I’ve kept in the dark. People should know how Sikh kids are bullied. I went through a lot, and now I want my life to be peaceful.   THEY CALLED ME TERRORIST I was born on October 21, 1992.  My parents moved from Hoshiarpur in Punjab, India to New York when I was two. I grew up in Richmond Hill in Queens. I have lived in New York my whole life. Ever since I can remember, I’ve gone through so much. It started when I was really young.  It wasn’t exactly bullying – that started...

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A New Call for Sikh Leadership

Following the tragedy in Oak Creek, law professor Dawinder S. Sidhu suggested that the time was right for a new era of Sikh engagement. He argued that we must transition from a backward-looking approach that focuses exclusively or primarily on discrimination, to one in which the community reduces the possibility of discrimination in the first place through active and broad civic, social, and public engagement. The essay was originally written for the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University. Sunday's shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin represents a pivotal moment for Sikhs. Depending on the nature and extent of the Sikh response, the community can either emerge from the tragedy as a better-understood and more welcome part of American society—or it can fade from the public's consciousness into the shadows of American social space. The early response suggests that Sikhs appear poised, perhaps for the first time in their...

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Join the Movement: The National Sikh Campaign

The time has finally come for a national campaign for Sikhs! This has been a long time coming. 13 years post-9/11, bullying and discrimination still disproportionately affect the Sikh community all around the world. Although, Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world and Sikhs have been in the United States since the 19th century, a study conducted by the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) and Stanford revealed that roughly 70% of the American public cannot correctly identify a Sikh. Further, another study conducted by Sikh Coalition about school bullying reveals that turbaned Sikh children experience bullying at more than double the national rate. This research clearly demonstrates, what we already know, and that is we not only need to increase awareness amongst the American public but also have leadership roles in schools, media, and government to create a long-lasting reform. The only way we can...

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