Bringing it Home, Out of the Shadows

August 26, 2009

Yesterday afternoon I joined several faith leaders from diverse communities for a meeting with Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) in his district office in Kew Gardens, Queens to discuss immigration reform. The Sikh Coalition is a part of growing group of organizations around the country bringing a faith-based voice to the immigration debate, and in particular has been active in the New York Interfaith Network on Immigration Reform.

In the meeting with Congressman Weiner, we discussed what it’s going to take to realistically fix this broken immigration system that has deemed the lives of 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country worthless. 12 million people living in the shadows, at risk of being torn apart from their families and loved ones at any moment. This is a statistic we hear a lot, but as Sikhs, what does it really mean to us? How does it hit home? What is our responsibility as Guru-oriented people?

Yesterday it hit home for me.

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Counting Every Sikh in Census 2010

August 24, 2009
Click Here to read the form for Census 2010.

Click Here to read the form for Census 2010.

Over the past few weeks, the Coalition has received varied requests for our involvement with Census 2010 efforts across the United States. Next year’s census count promises to be one of the largest mobilizing events of this administration. But the Sikh Coalition has decided not to play an active role in the Census next year for the reason described below.

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New Video: From the Classroom to the Capitol

August 24, 2009

Filmmaker Kevin Lee just finished a new short documentary film entitled From the Classroom to the Capitol: The Sikh Coalition. The film was screened for the first time on August 8, 2009 at the Sikh Coalition’s first ever gala in New York City.

Kevin Lee is a an award-winning, New York-based filmmaker who also directed the films Warrior Saints and Dastaar: Defending Sikh Identity. This new documentary, From the Classroom to the Capitol, includes interviews with community members who have experienced discrimination or hate violence as well as Sikh Coalition staff members and interns who provide a behind the scenes glimpse at the Sikh Civil Rights movement in the United States.

We are grateful for Kevin’s commitment to documenting these stories which are so important to Sikhs in the U.S. and around the world.

Bay Area Sikh Needs Assessment Officially Kicks Off

August 19, 2009

Sikh children at Fremont Gurdwara Sahib's Summer Camp

By Bhavreet Singh, the Sikh Coalition’s California Community Organizing Intern for Summer 2009.

On August 13th, the Sikh Coalition’s Bay Area Needs Assessment project in California officially kicked off. After several months of piloting the survey and revising it based on feedback from community members, partner organizations, and social science researchers, the survey is ready to be administered. Nearly fifty children were surveyed last Thursday at the Fremont Gurdwara’s kids’ summer camp. The kids were very responsive, and they took time to properly complete the survey.

The purpose of the Bay Area Needs Assessment is to determine the  major civil rights issues that are most impacting the Bay Area Sikh community by conducting surveys throughout the Bay Area. There are two versions of the same survey: one for children in grade school and another for adults. These surveys are available in English and Punjabi for in-person administration at Gurdwaras and Sikh events. The Sikh Coalition will also administer English versions of the survey online. It is important that Bay Area Sikhs take part in this project because the result of these surveys will be used to create Sikh Coalition’s civil rights agenda for the upcoming years. Without the participation and support of Bay Area Sikhs, the Sikh Coalition cannot effectively do quality and high-impact work to protect Sikhs’ civil rights.

The Sikh Coalition will need Punjabi and English speaking sevadars to help implement the surveys in Bay Area Gurdwaras and at local Sikh events. If any one is interested in doing this seva, please contact Ravneet Kaur at

Good Enough to Protect the Queen, but Not Our Country?

August 14, 2009
Sikh Soldiers are Part of the Queen's Guard for the First Time

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

Men wearing bearskin hats and red coats are a common tourist attraction in London. Apart from their rock-still presence, these men also protect Queen Elizabeth and the Crown Jewels. However, earlier this month, this classic tourist attraction turned into a historic privilege for the Sikh community. As bearskin hats were swapped for Sikh turbans and the red coats for navy blue, Signaler Simranjit Singh and Lance Corporal Sarvjit Singh became the first Sikhs to guard the queen and her prized jewels.

As Sikh Americans continue to fight for religious accommodation in the US Armed forces, it is astonishing to see how advance our allies are in regards to accepting the religious diversity of its citizens. England, a country that has a history of Sikhs serving in their Army, clearly has no issue accommodating Sikh religious mandates in its armed forces. Yet, while the United States was founded on the basis of religious freedom, religion stills seems to be a preventive factor in the lives of religious minority groups.

Several mainstream media outlets covered the journey of these two British Sikh soldiers, and we have since made sure to highlight their story in our Sikh Right to Serve campaign. We have brought it to the attention of American reporters as well as Congressional representatives.

After all, if a turban and beard can protect the monarchy of one nation, why can they not protect the democracy of another?

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!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Time to Wake Up

August 12, 2009

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

I attended the Hemkunt Foundation Speech Competition in Los Angeles this past weekend, where I spoke about the Sikh Coalition’s work on the Sikh Right to Serve campaign. My hope was to inspire some of the participants to take action in support of the campaign, as Angad is doing in this video.

Over the summer, I’ve been saddened to see the lack of drive in college age individuals to make a difference. During the Sikh Coalition’s DC grassroots week, I handled a lot of behind the sceens outreach and communication. Read the rest of this entry »