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April 2011

Erasure: AZ Bill Wipes Sodhi’s Name from 9/11 Memorial

Anyone who knows about the aftermath of 9/11 will remember the story of Balbir Singh Sodhi.  A turbaned Sikh man, he was the first person murdered in a hate crime in response to 9/11.  It called national attention to anti-Muslim violence and galvanized action from all corners.  In Arizona, where three thousand people attended the memorial, the legislature honored Sodhi on the state’s 9/11 Memorial. His story has never been disputed.  Until now. This month, Arizona Representative John Kavanagh introduced a bill that would remove Sodhi’s name from the 9/11 memorial, along with other “political” statements.  Kavanagh asserts that Sodhi […]

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Witnessing Guantanamo-Style Justice

Last week, the Obama Administration decided to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others accused Sept. 11 conspirators before a military commission at Guantanamo Bay, rather than a civilian court in the U.S. After Obama signed the declaration to close Guantanamo on this first day as President, he tried to bring these suspects to New York for a federal trial, but the public protested, Congress tied his hands, and he apparently didn’t have the political will to fight for it.  As the Guantanamo military commissions ramp up once again, civil rights groups are sounding a chorus of protest. Why should […]

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ICE’s PR Campaign Won’t Help “Secure Communities”

On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a new “community outreach program” to soften ICE’s negative image.  The program, tested in Chicago before launched nation-wide, will facilitate community partnerships “to combat stereotypes, mistrust, and misinformation that people hold about the department and agencies.” The program’s motto: Taking It to the Streets. Immigrant communities have taken it to the streets.  But not in the way ICE had in mind. They are protesting Secure Communities, a program created under the Obama Administration to deport dangerous criminals.   The program allows ICE to access the immigration […]

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American Sikh Day – Again

Today, hundreds of people gathered on the steps of the California State capitol building for “American Sikh Day.” In the crowd and on the stage, a handful of politicians donned Sikh turbans and others held up signs that read “We are all Sikh.” California Senator Darrell Steinberg called today, April 13*, a day of solidarity with Sikhs in response to the shooting of two elderly Sikh gentlemen in Elk Grove, CA last month.  Surinder Singh, 65, and Gurmej Atwal, 78, were taking their daily afternoon walk in a suburb of Sacramento when a Ford pick-up truck pulled up and gunned […]

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The Changing Face of the NAACP

Last week, NPR reported a growing trend among local NAACP chapters. They’re electing a new generation of leaders, many of whom are not African-American.  In Waterbury, Connecticut, the chapter elected Victor Diaz, a 32-year-old Hispanic who is one of about a dozen new local leaders broadening the NAACP mission.  They are changing the face of the NAACP as an organization not just for African-Americans but also for immigrants and LGBT people. This news was music to my ears.  For too long, civil rights organizations have fought campaigns as separate issues.  But the advancement of colored people in the U.S. is […]

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They Go to Die: Film on South African Miners

Check out this film teaser by friend and colleague Jonathan Smith — a stunning spoken word piece on South African miners.  Jonathan just got back from South Africa, where he spent weeks living with the families of miners with TB and HIV.  He’s living in the editing room now, putting together a film that will expose the public health crisis through a vivid portrayal of life after the mines. They Go to Die – Clint Smith’s Spoken Word from Jonathan Smith on Vimeo.

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