On Monday, we joined other South Asian advocates in New Jersey’s state capitol, Trenton, to call on New Jersey state legislators to prioritize some of the key issues facing South Asians in the state. Three of us from the Sikh Coalition’s NYC office participated in this Trenton South Asian Advocacy Day, organized by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).
We met with several New Jersey state Assembly members and Senators, educating them about the South Asian community and discussing issues such as hate crimes post-9/11, language accessibility to government services, and immigrant rights. Some of the legislators were very receptive to our issues and concerns and through building relationships with them might become good allies for Sikhs and other South Asians in New Jersey. Others were less receptive, especially to immigrant rights issues, but it was nevertheless important for them to hear from our community directly.
As we were walking around the state house from meeting to meeting, we were inspired by the dozens of other community members and advocates from other groups who were there talking to elected officials about the issues and legislation that affect their communities.
We saw tons of union members all wearing bright red t-shirts, calling on their legislators to support policies that respect workers’ rights. We saw a large group of people with disabilities advocating for the rights of their community. While we were a relatively small group of South Asians at the Trenton state house yesterday (and only 3 Sikhs), we’re hopefully beginning to pave the way for a more powerful South Asian and Sikh voice.
Hopefully not too far in the future we’ll be organizing Sikh advocacy days in New Jersey, California, Washington, D.C. and beyond, and our orange [or brown or whatever color we choose] shirts will be a force to be reckoned with!
Here’s a little video clip of me explaining the purpose of our visit to Trenton.