On May 31st, I got my first taste of true grassroots organizing as an intern with the Sikh Coalition. Ravneet, the community organizer in California, and I spent several hours at the Fremont Gurdwara. We were encouraging Sikhs to reach out to their Assemblymembers to promote the CA Kirpan Education Bill (AB 504) and collecting signatures for the Army Campaign Petition. Within a few hours, we gathered more than 100 signatures and answered questions about the Sikh Coalition’s major campaigns.
Sangat members were extremely responsive and wanted to help achieve the necessary policy changes that would help Sikhs freely practice their faith in the U.S. Many members of the community also encouraged us to contact them in the future for any assistance that we may need. By reaching out to the Fremont Sikh community, not only did we locate dedicated activists, but we also got an opportunity to discuss some of the other major issues that our community faces. These discussions with local Sikhs made me recognize that Sikhs have many diverse opinions and solutions to our community’s problems.
Our day at the Fremont Gurdwara was a very rewarding experience because it reinforced the importance of reaching out to the community. Sometimes organizations tend to forget to listen to the voices of the community that they represent. My interactions with the Fremont sangat made me realize that it is only through communicating and understanding each other’s concerns can Sikhs collectively make a difference. I also learned that there are many individuals who want to help make changes and are looking for an avenue through which they can do something positive. Sikhs at the Gurdwara expressed that there is a lot of work that remains to be done in order to successfully create a united Sikh voice to combat the issues that the Sikh Diaspora faces. Hopefully, the Sikh Coalition can continue to work towards a united Sikh voice.
Bhavreet Singh is a Community Organizing Intern in the Sikh Coalition’s Western Region Office.