Rising Hate Crimes Require Better Reporting
In November, the Sikh Coalition reminded the American public that newly published FBI hate crime statistics are based on a flawed reporting system.
In 2016, the FBI documented 6,121 hate crimes in the United States, including seven hate crimes against Sikhs. Although the overall figure represents a nearly five percent increase over the previous year, it is based on voluntary reports by law enforcement agencies. Many of these agencies do not bother to report hate crimes to the FBI.
On the other hand, a June 2017 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that there are 250,000 hate crime victimizations in the U.S. each year. Additionally, the Sikh Coalition estimates that Sikhs remain hundreds of times more likely to experience hate crimes than the average American.
Click here to read more and learn how you can take action.
California Celebrates Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month
Led by Assemblymember Ash Kalra, the California legislature approved a resolution designating November as California Sikh American Awareness & Appreciation Month. Additionally, sangat members secured proclamations to recognize the contributions of California Sikhs in Santa Clara, Union City, Turlock and the New Haven Unified School District. The Sikh Coalition also reached out to California state legislative offices, facilitating #CASikhs posts on their social media platforms.
Sangat members delivered Sikh awareness presentations and participated in the Sikh Awareness Game with the LA Clippers, and the Sikh Project brought stories of Sikh resilience to tens of thousands in multiple cities in California. In addition, California’s Department of Education circulated a memorandum to every county and district school superintendent, encouraging them to promote Sikh awareness and remain vigilant against school bullying.
50+ Gurdwaras Have Taken Steps to Improve Security; Has Yours?
The FBI’s November hate crime report detailing the rise in hate crimes across the United States continues to underscore the urgency of doing everything we can to better protect our houses of worship.
In response to these concerns of increasing hate crimes against religious minorities and their places of worship, the Sikh Coalition has distributed the Gurdwara Security Toolkit to more than 200 gurdwaras, and so far we have received more than 50 responses. Many of those 50 gurdwaras have taken advantage of our free resources, including security consultations from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Will your gurdwara be next?
Click here to download our Gurdwara Security Toolkit, click here to watch a video about the initiative, and contact Community Development Manager Aasees Kaur at email@example.com to schedule a security consultation.
Help Us Build Community Power
Given the civil rights challenges we face today, we hope we can count on you to push this groundbreaking work forward and invest in building community power. We need your support to secure our budget for next year. Please donate here so this work can continue.
Thank you to everyone who invested in the Sikh Coalition on #GivingTuesday! We are among the top-ranked charities this year on Network for Good, one of the largest online platforms for charitable giving. In addition, Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities, has placed the Sikh Coalition on its highest tier of reviewed organizations. While we celebrate this groundbreaking progress, we still need to reach our fundraising goal, so please donate and encourage friends & family to support us as well.
Monitoring Reports of Jagtar Singh Johal’s Detention and Torture
The Sikh Coalition is concerned about the lack of due process for detainees in India and the use of torture by Indian police. In particular, we are monitoring reports that Jagtar Singh Johal, a young Sikh man from the U.K., is being illegally detained and tortured by Indian police. India’s human rights violations have been repeatedly documented by organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Ensaaf, and we will continue to provide updates in the Jagtar Singh Johal case. Please follow #FreeJaggiNow to learn more.
Sikh Coalition Writes White House in Response to Islamophobic Trump Tweets
On November 29, 2017, President Trump re-tweeted videos by Britain First, a fringe political organization that wishes to halt immigration to the U.K.; criminalize the Muslim religion; abolish interfaith religious curricula; ban the word “racism” in the media; and offer money to Britons “of foreign descent” to leave the U.K.
On December 4, 2017, the Sikh Coalition wrote the White House, outlining our objections to President Trump continuing to use his platform to elevate fringe groups that stereotype immigrants and minorities, increase the risk of hate crime, and detract from constructive dialogue and measures to improve national security. We also articulated our hope for the Trump administration to embrace a more unifying message going forward and promised to continue to speak out when we believe our government is falling short of our nation’s ideals.
Sikh Project Photography Exhibition Launches in California
During the first two weeks of November, tens of thousands of visitors viewed portraits from the Sikh Project displayed at the California State Capitol Museum. Additionally, the complete Sikh Project exhibition launched at Chapman University in Southern California on November 17, 2017 in partnership with SikhLens. The gallery continues to be on display free of charge until February 16, 2018.
So far, the exhibition has reached a potential 20 million Americans.
LA Clippers Celebrate California Sikh Awareness Month
On December 6, 2017, over 300 members of the California sangat joined the Sikh Coalition and the Los Angeles Clippers for the fourth annual Sikh Awareness Night basketball game. This brought the Sikh community to 15,000 people inside the arena and hundreds of thousands more that watched the nationally televised game on ESPN. The night featured young Sikh basketball players, a national anthem and color guard performance by Sikhs and halftime entertainment in Punjabi.
Click here to view Gagandeep Singh’s performance of the national anthem from the LA Clippers game.
Commemorating Sikh Heritage Night with the Philadelphia 76ers
On November 22, 2017, the Sikh community joined the Philadelphia 76ers to host the second annual Sikh Heritage Night in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the event, Senior Advisor (and former Executive Director) Sapreet Kaur was honored by the Philadelphia 76ers for her service to the Sikh community over the past eight years. We thank local Sikh community members for organizing this awareness event. In addition, thank you to those who supported the Sikh Coalition through tickets sales!
First Network Show Featuring Sikhs Currently In Development
The Sikh Coalition is excited about the development of the first-ever network television show featuring the Sikh community, and we look forward to supporting producers Valarie Kaur and America Ferrera as they move this groundbreaking project forward with NBC. The series will follow the story of a Sikh female law student and her classmates as they work at a student law firm. For more about the show read NBC’s story here.
Since June 2017, the Sikh Coalition has been working with organizations like Revolutionary Love and Harness to put Sikh characters, stories and actors on primetime television. On October 31, 2017, a Sikh character was featured on NBC’s “This is Us” and other similar exciting characters stand on the horizon.
Legal Work Protects Religious and Immigrant Rights
The Sikh Coalition joined an amicus brief in support of precedent prohibiting the government from endorsing a particular religion. Filed with the Eleventh Circuit, the brief supported a finding that the city of Pensacola, Florida may not display a 34-foot Christian cross on public property. The Sikh Coalition supported the argument that keeping government and religion separate is necessary to protect religious minorities and the free exercise of religious belief.
We will also join an amicus contesting the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program protecting certain undocumented immigrant youth. The brief argues that termination of DACA and more frequent immigration arrests near places of worship will put religious groups in an untenable position: The most vulnerable congregants, who see their houses of worship as safe spaces, may be subject to raids by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Sharing Resources in Partnership with NYC Commission for Human Rights
On November 12, 2017, Sikh Coalition Community Development Manager Aasees Kaur joined the NYC Commission for Human Rights to deliver a Know Your Rights presentation and share useful resources with the sangat at Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Sikh Center in Queens, New York.
As part of the event, the Sikh Coalition also shared the NYC Commission for Human Rights’ survey to better understand the challenges Sikhs face in New York City. This survey is available online and is an easy opportunity for our community’s voice to be heard.
Providing Sikhism Resources to Connecticut Education Officials
On November 17, 2017, the Sikh Coalition joined Swaranjit Singh Khalsa of the US Attorney’s Office at the annual convention of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.
During the convention, Sikh Coalition Finance & Systems Manager Maggie Lloyd provided resources to over 40 superintendents and school board members as part of a session titled “Come Together Right Now: Encouraging Understanding and Fostering Culturally Sensitive Schools to Avoid Hate Crimes and Harassment.”
View pictures from the event here.
Representing Sikhi Around the United States
This past month, Sikh Coalition Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh represented the Sikh community at various venues around the country. In Boston, he spoke on a panel hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations for an audience of religion scholars from around the world. The topic of conversation was the rise of ethno-nationalism in its global context, and the conversation centered on its forms in America, Europe, the Middle East and India. He also spoke on the role of faith in social justice at a program for college students in Salt Lake City and on the relationship between race, spirit and justice at New York University. In both of these sessions, Simran helped introduce audiences to Sikhi while also showing how its unique values help shape powerful models of justice, especially in a multicultural context.