Middle Schoolers taking action on (Sikh) civil rights

May 12, 2010

Last Friday, I was invited by the organization Teaching Matters to participate as an “expert” community activist in their annual Civil Rights Student Summit in downtown Manhattan.  I was looking forward to the opportunity to work with such young students of diverse backgrounds on building effective campaigns for civil rights and social justice, but I had no idea how inspiring the experience would be.

The day began at the City Council Chambers at City Hall, where a few hundred students were welcomed by staff at Teaching Matters and a speech by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who gave the Sikh Coalition a shout out for our organizing and advocacy work on bias-based bullying in NYC schools.

Then the students broke out into groups of a few dozen across the street at Pace University and made 5-7 minute presentations on a civil rights topic they had researched and developed a campaign about.  The “professional” activists in the room then had the opportunity to ask questions, give the students feedback on their campaigns, and share our on-the-ground experience.  With topics ranging from healthcare for all to women’s rights, the presentations were thoughtful and used many forms of media to build awareness campaigns.

What really blew me away was that one of the groups of five non-Sikh middle school students chose Sikh rights as their topic!  Using a great website they created, the students gave an in-depth presentation about the barriers to freedom and equality Sikhs in the U.S. face, from employment discrimination to hate crimes.  The front page of the site states:

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Bigotry in all the Wrong Places?

February 11, 2010

You may be surprised by who said this last week at a hearing of the Oregon House Education Committee (brace yourself):

“About every other year a new private school opens in Oregon,” GUESS WHO testified. Christian parents “have created those private Christian schools largely because they feel that the public school system is hostile to their religious beliefs. Those parents and people like them are going to feel even more so if their first-graders were being taught by Muslim women in burkas and Sikh teachers in turbans… I look forward to the day when the orthodox Jewish parent welcomes the fact that his 6-year-old daughter is going to be a captive audience in the Muslim teacher’s or the Wiccan teacher’s classroom for 180 days a year.” Read the rest of this entry »


SikhCo Responds to Colbert’s “Terrorist Midget” Image

January 13, 2010

Colbert Report Terrorist MidgetOn January 6, 2010, Sikhs made an appearance on Stephen’s Colbert’s popular daily news spoof, the Colbert Report. Unfortunately, it was not in a good light. In fact, the segment showed a man wearing a beard and full patka while the voiceover describes him as a “terrorist midget.”

Yes, some may consider this funny, but at the same time, it doesn’t do our community any favors. Read the rest of this entry »


Congress introduces immigration reform bill

December 16, 2009

This week, Representative Luis Gutierrez introduced a bill entitled “CIR A.S.A.P.” which lays out many real solutions that would get us closer to comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). As previously discussed, The Sikh Coalition fully supports comprehensive immigration reform. This issue is of great importance to Punjabi Sikh immigrants in the United States and is in line with the Sikhi principle of sarbat da bhala.

Click here to tell Congress you support comprehensive immigration reform, and see the Interfaith Immigration Coalition’s press release about the new bill below.

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Sick and tired of being sick and tired

October 6, 2009

Today is the 92nd birthday of the late Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the great leaders of the African American civil rights and freedom movement in the United States. Many of the rights we benefit from today are a direct result of the tireless work of this inspiring activist and freedom fighter and others like her. Here is a short video for you to honor her work and her life. Happy Birthday Fannie Lou Hamer!


Coalition Gala: Paving the Way

August 13, 2009

On Saturday August 8th, the Sikh coalition held it’s first-ever gala. The glamorous night was held in Gotham Hall. Music, comedy and awards helped to celebrate the Sikh community’s forward progress. The night also showcased the Sikh Coalition’s work to end discrimination against Sikhs and the Sikh identity.

Corporate, nonprofit and government leaders attended to honor community activists, sewadars and Sikh supporters for their work over the last year.  View the slideshow below for some insight to the nights events. More to come!


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