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August 2012

The Takeaway: Sikh Outreach at the RNC

Recently, I checked in with The Takeaway to talk about the RNC’s decision to invite Ishwar Singh to lead the convention in prayer. Click on the link below to listen as we discuss whether the inclusion of Sikhs at the RNC for the first time was hollow rhetoric in the context of greater bias presented against those who look different. “Sikh Outreach at the RNC” on The Takeaway.

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Is Sikh-Led Prayer at RNC a Hollow Gesture?

Published on CNN. The Republican National Convention will make history Wednesday night. Ishwar Singh, wearing a turban and beard, will take the stage and lead thousands of conservatives in prayer. For the first time in U.S. history, a Sikh American will give the invocation at a Republican National Convention. The inclusion of a Sikh prayer on the stage comes just a few weeks after a gunman opened fire on Sikhs praying in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six and hospitalizing three more in what could be the largest racially motivated mass shooting in recent U.S. history.  Many praise the invocation as […]

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First Lady Sets an Example after Wisconsin Shooting

Published on CNN. I have spent the past two weeks documenting the aftermath of what could be one of the deadliest racially motivated mass shootings in recent U.S. history. Through a camera lens, I’ve witnessed courage in the face of profound grief: families in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, mourning the dead, praying through tears and rebuilding their community in the Sikh spirit of chardi kala, a rising resilience even in darkness. But when family members walked out of a private meeting with first lady Michelle Obama on Thursday afternoon, I saw something entirely new in their faces. For the first time, […]

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President Obama, Come to Oak Creek

Published on CNN. (CNN) — Last Saturday morning, when media crews outside the Sikh gurdwara (house of worship) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, packed up their trucks to chase the news of Mitt Romney’s choice for vice president, Sikh Americans were left reflecting on six days of unprecedented national attention. After the shooting of six people in a Sikh gurdwara, a stream of national leaders, from the Rev. Jesse Jackson to Gov. Scott Walker, came to offer condolences and support. But there was one person missing. It was you, Mr. President. Let me be clear: Your administration’s response to the massacre […]

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Shooting at Sikh Gurdwara Prompts Call for Storytelling to Bind Us Together

Published on The Washington Post. Sixteen days ago, a gunman opened fire in a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wis. One of the victims, Punjab Singh, is still fighting for his life in a Milwaukee hospital. I had never met him before, but when I went to visit him on Sunday, I did not see a stranger: I saw my grandfather. In recent days, the blogosphere has buzzed with speculation over why media coverage of the massacre in Aurora, Colo., was far more extensive than in Oak Creek. Many argue that Americans could imagine themselves in a movie theater but […]

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Tragedy Returns to Oak Creek

Published on Salon. On Wednesday night, Dalbir Singh was closing his store when three masked people approached and opened gunfire. He was shot in the head and died instantly. This crime fits the profile of thousands of failed attempted robberies in the U.S., except that Dalbir Singh is a turbaned Sikh man in Oak Creek, Wis. Dalbir Singh was murdered just 10 days after a white supremacist massacred six people – five turbaned men and one woman – in the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek. He was one of hundreds of local community members I joined last week to mourn […]

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My Trip to the Sikh Community in Oak Creek, Wisconsin

In the last week, I witnessed the pain and terrible grief of these children and their families who lost their mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts in the massacre. But I also witnessed a multifaith movement for justice help the Sikh community find the courage to rise and rebuild in a time of unprecedented national attention. Groundswell supporters, thank you. When I presented the six volumes of letters on Sunday morning, your words were concrete proof to the Sikh community in Wisconsin that they were not alone. They represented the thousands of Groundswell supporters who wrote messages, whispered prayers, and attended vigils, […]

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Sikhs Deserve the Dignity of Being a Statistic

Published on The Washington Post. In the aftermath of the mass shooting in a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wis., a sea of reporters have asked many Sikh leaders and activists to quantify how many Sikhs had been targeted in hate crimes and murders since Sept. 11, 2001. Although I have helped chronicle hate crimes against the Sikh American community for more than a decade, I could not tell them. Even as the White House, U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation express their commitment to protecting Sikh Americans in response to the massacre, there is one glaring […]

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America after the Sikh Temple Shooting

Published on Common Ground News Service. Oak Creek, Wisconsin – On Friday, I participated in a memorial for the victims of the 4 August shooting in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. I am a third-generation Sikh American, and as the ceremony drew to a close, I tweeted, “May this not be the last moment the nation watches and mourns with us. May this be the start of lasting solidarity.” Now is the time that we, as Americans already embroiled in an increasingly bitter election year, must curb the rise of hate, fear and discontent in our communities and […]

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