Behind the Scenes: Prepping for 6/30 Youth Rally & Press Conference

June 28, 2009

This Tuesday will mark the one year anniversary of the historic march and rally for Sikh youth in Richmond Hill, New York on June 30, 2008.  Last year, the Sikh community and our allies took to the streets after two horrific attacks on Sikh students in Queens, demanding the NYC Department of Education (DOE) to take systemic action to address and prevent bias-based harassment in schools.

In September, the DOE finally announced the creation of a Chancellor’s Regulation to address bias-based harassment in schools, which we applauded as a step in the right direction.  However, over the course of the last school year, we have been surveying Sikh youth in the gurdwaras every week and have learned that the new Regulation is not being fully implemented in schools and making little difference for our youth.  We worked with a number of other organizations and got 1,110 surveys filled out by youth of diverse backgrounds.  Our results will be released in the form of a Report Card this coming Tuesday, June 30th in Manhattan.

This informal video clip highlights some of our preparation in Richmond Hill the last few days (Friday & Sunday).  We encourage community members, youth, and allies to come to the press conference this Tuesday at 11am at the Tweed Courthouse located at 52 Chambers Street in Manhattan.


A faith-based approach to social justice

June 24, 2009

Last Tuesday, I caught a bus from Harlem’s Riverside Church minutes after the completion of our MTA “Turban-branding” press conference at City Hall and headed upstate to the 21st annual Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Interfaith Retreat on Social Justice. It was great to have the opportunity to connect with faith leaders from diverse traditions and reflect on how we can bring a stronger interfaith voice to social justice movements. Special shoutout to the contingents who came all the way from Scotland (including 2 Sikhs, one who you’ll see in the video) and Barcelona, Spain!

MTA “Turban Branding” Press Conference

June 18, 2009

By Amandeep Singh

Amandeep Singh is the Sikh Coalition’s Development Intern for Summer 2009 in New York. This press conference was his first day at work.

Read the letter from the New York City Council here.

On June 16th 2009, the Sikh Coalition mobilized members of the press, the New York City Council and Sikh employees of the Metropolitan Transit Authority for a press conference against the MTA policy of requiring Sikh and Muslim workers to sow the MTA logo on their respective religious head wear. This “turban branding” policy was loudly rebuked by the majority of New York City Council Members and Sikh MTA workers, declaring the policy discriminatory and anti-American. Twenty-seven members of the City Council pleaded with the President of the MTA in a letter to discontinue this discriminatory policy, sending a strong message of support for the Sikh community.

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Since when did a haircut make a good soldier?

June 16, 2009

By Manpreet Kaur, the Sikh Coalition’s Advocacy Intern for Summer 2009.

Even as Sikh Americans are battling to keep their right to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, our president went on national television last week and told the entire nation that the mark of a true soldier is his crew cut. While the episode was intended to bring a few laughs to the heroes fighting for our nation in Iraq, the statement reminds us how long a road we must travel to ensure that our military reflects our country’s great diversity.

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Walking the Hill for Justice

June 9, 2009

By Amandeep Singh and Priya Kaur

Amandeep Singh is the Sikh Coalition’s Operations Intern for Summer 2009. Priya Kaur is the Sikh Coalition’s Community Organizing Intern for Summer 2009. Both are based in the New York City office.

Last week the Sikh Coalition hit the Hill in Washington, DC to meet with lawmakers in support of the Army Campaign. We met with a total of eight offices, and each one was a unique experience. In each meeting we gave the Congressional staffers some background on the case and Sikhs’ longstanding history of armed service. We asked them for their support by signing a Congressional sign on letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

We started our first day, June 3rd, by meeting with legislative aides of Representative Ed Towns (NY). Being our first meeting, we were a bit nervous, but that didn’t hinder us from having a successful meeting. Both aides were very receptive and seemed to understand how important the issue was to the Sikh community. This meeting set the momentum for the rest of our lobbying efforts.

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Reflections From a Sikh Coalition Nasher

June 9, 2009

By Cassie Moy

Cassie Moy was a Sikh Coalition intern in the New York office for the 2008-2009 school year. Cassie is a Junior at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and lives in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009, marks my last day as a Sikh Coalition intern.

Eight months ago, the start of my junior year in high school, I would not have defined myself as anything in relation to the Sikh Coalition, and today I’m proud to think that I have contributed to this organization that has inspired and taught me so much.

cassienasherEight months ago, I was fresh out of the Summer Institute, a summer program designed by the
Sadie Nash Leadership Project (SNLP) to “promote leadership and activism among young women…. designed to strengthen, empower, and equip young women as agents for change in their world.” (SNLP participants are referred to as “Nashers.”) It was a wonderful experience that really fine-tuned my world view and contributed to my growth. Walking out of the Summer Institute I felt strengthened, empowered, equipped, and ready to be an agent of positive change. There was no question as to whether or not I was going to participate in the second part of SNLP’s program: Community Action Placement, or CAP.

CAP landed me an internship with the Sikh Coalition last October.
It became a gentle barrage of new experiences for a high school student who had never before worked or spent significant time in an office setting – from getting friendly with Microsoft Excel to a run out in the rain to make a last-minute shipment. And networking like I had never networked before in the name of begging my friends and classmates to please, please take this survey and pass it on.

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A Video Of AB 504 Passing: “All Those Voters Are To Vote”

June 5, 2009

The historic CA Kirpan Legislation (AB 504) passed this week on the Assembly floor.  Onto the Senate we go!

Watch the video below to see Assembly Member Furutani present the bill and legislators vote on it … “All those voters are to vote, all those voters are to vote”! This video provides an insight into how government policies are made.

Please forward to 58 minutes.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Thanks for all your support!