For decades, generations of students in American public schools have received inaccurate and distorted information about Sikh history and traditions. Although Sikhs have lived in America and strengthened their communities for over a century, their stories are largely absent from history and social studies textbooks. On top of this, textbooks have erroneously mischaracterized Sikhism as a combination of Hinduism and Islam and frequently depicted Sikhs as terrorists. These distortions are sometimes encouraged by vested interests who do not want Sikhs to flourish. As a result, there is widespread ignorance about Sikhs throughout American society, making Sikhs vulnerable to hate crimes, school bullying, invidious profiling, and employment discrimination.
The Sikh Coalition is working with textbook publishers to eliminate errors and include accurate information about Sikh history and traditions. In consultation with scholars, we have systematically analyzed social studies textbooks, identified dozens of errors, and worked with the largest textbook publishers in the nation to correct them. As revisions are implemented, we will continue to monitor textbooks for quality assurance so that future generations of Americans receive accurate information about their Sikh classmates, colleagues, and neighbors.
Because of the Sikh Coalition’s efforts over several years in partnership with scholars and community activists, we have corrected over 50 errors in major textbooks and provided consultations to the largest textbook publishers in the nation including Pearson Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill Education, Cengage Learning, Social Studies School Service and Discovery Education social studies textbooks. As a result of these efforts, the Sikh American story will be accurately told to millions of American students for generations to come.
- major textbook publishers now include accurate Sikh history
- factual errors corrected in textbooks
- years of advocacy needed to correct these errors
“These corrections enable my children and the next generation to have a better chance to share and explain their faith. It also means understanding which leads to a more conducive learning environment."
Manpreet K. Singh, a Sikh attorney and mother whose two children attend schools in the Houston public school system