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August 2005

Last Day of Production

Today was the final day of our summer film production. We spent the day filming b-roll (images of people and places) around our nation’s capital, and then we ended our summer journey with a celebration dinner. And yes, even a shameless dance of joy. Today’s pictures speak louder than words, so I invite you to glimpse moments from our day– and our joy at the day’s end! We began at the Lincoln Memorial, and then we drove our van to the White House, where we were met with secret service agents. They kindly showed us to our own parking spot […]

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In Defense of Democracy

August, 26-2005- Today was our very last day of interviews. It was only appropriate that our final two interviewees held opposing positions on how to defend American democracy in the post-9/11 era: one believes that we need to target undocumented immigrants and use racial profiling in security searches, and the other believes that such state policies are a form of public violence that encourage private hate violence. Both were intriguing. We first interviewed CLIFFORD MAY (pictured below), President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He is also Chairman of the Policy Committee of the Committee on the Present […]

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Best and Worst of America

Today we interviewed SHER SINGH (pictured) who was arrested on September 12, 2001 as the first suspected terrorist after the 9/11 attacks. He was riding a Boston-bound train when it stopped in Providence, Rhode Island. He was wearing a turban and kirpan, both articles of Sikh faith. His ‘suspicious’ appearance had caught the attention of the FBI who sent federal agents and local police with bomb-sniffing dogs to the station to intercept him. Officers rushed the entrance of the train and pointed rifles at the man: “Get your f— hands up.” They pulled him out of the train at gunpoint […]

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Racial Profiling and James Oddo

After the London bombings, the debate on racial profiling was everywhere, on television and in newspapers. As the film crew and I traveled around the country, interviewing victims of prejudice and profiling, two New York legislators announced an upcoming bill that “called for racial profiling” on subways. While this announcement was met with signs of protest (like that pictured), it still gave me chills. I saw the way that racial profiling – in airports and on the streets – had damaged entire communities. How could they fail to recognize these costs? So I decided to ask. We called New York […]

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"Covering"

After speaking with DEAN KOH at Yale Law School, we had a long and rich conversation with KENJI YOSHINO (pictured), Deputy Dean of Intellectual Life and Professor of Law. I first met him on Yale Law’s admit day, when we had a small group discussion about law and discrimination. We picked up the discussion today and delved deeply into assimilation, discrimination, and covering. Since revolutionary times, Professor Yoshino began, the magic of assimilation has been part of the American dream: that if you assimilate, you will be able to escape discrimination. But since the 1960s, people began to see the […]

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Dean of Yale Law School

Today we continued our production travels on the road with a trip to Yale Law School , where we interviewed the Dean of Yale Law School, HAROLD HONGJU KOH, a champion of human and civil rights. I first met Dean Koh at Yale Law School’s admit day this spring, and after hearing him speak, I was certain of two things: that I wanted to study at YLS next year and that this documentary film needed his voice. He offered a larger perspective on the shift in law and politics in post-9/11 America. Dean Koh described three different reactions after September […]

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When the Aftermath Began

Today we filmed the streets and skyline of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and finally we returned to Ground Zero. There we met AMRIK CHAWLA (pictured), a Brooklyn-raised Sikh American, who first told me his story in December 2001. Amrik was probably the very first victim of a hate crime after 9/11. It happened only minutes after the second plane hit the Towers. That Tuesday morning, Amrik was in a cab three blocks south of the Towers, on his way to work when traffic stopped. He saw the family in the car next to him looking up at the sky, […]

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Returning to Ground Zero

It is the eve of the fourth anniversary of September 11, the event that changed the world for many people and shifted the entire course of my life. In the aftermath of 9/11, I journeyed across America with my camera, documenting stories of hate violence against minority communities, including my own. Now four years later, I am a graduate student making a feature film about my journey. Still consumed by these stories and their questions, I traveled with my film crew to revisit Ground Zero on August 21, 2005… I first visited Ground Zero in December 2001. I remember it […]

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Targeting the Turban

Today we drove into Richmond Hill, New York, to meet the three Sikh men Amardeep Singh at the Sikh Coalition told us about yesterday. The Sikh Coalition represents Rajinder Singh Khalsa, Kevin Harrington, and Amric Singh Rathour (pictured). Each case centers on the turban, the religious uniform for many Sikh men. Here are sketches of their three stories.     We met RAJINDER SINGH KHALSA (pictured) in front of his brother’s restaurant, where he told us what happened to him on July 11, 2004. On the street, several men accosted him and his brother. “Give me that dirty curtain,” they […]

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Sikh Coalition vs. New York City

We have arrived in New York City to begin production on the East Coast. After we picked up our equipment, we had our first interview with AMARDEEP SINGH (pictured), legal director of the SIKH COALITION, a civil rights organization created in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. I had first met Amar and other founding members of the Coalition in December 2001, when I interviewed them at a round table after one of their first meetings. Back then, they were a group of young Sikh professionals who came together to respond to the outbreak of hate violence. Now the Sikh Coalition […]

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