Opinion Essays

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,

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.

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

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

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

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

Published on The Huffington Post. By Valarie Kaur and Simran Jeet Singh Why do we wear turbans?" Nearly every Sikh American who grows up in the U.S. asks their families this question and as two Sikh Americans who maintain our faith, we were no different when we were little. This week, as Americans join in vigils for the six murdered Sikhs in another violent act of hate, many are now asking us this same question. "Our ancestors were beheaded so that we could practice our faith without fear," our grandparents told

Published on The Washington Post. By Vineet Chander, Valarie Kaur and Najeeba Syed-Miller One week after the Sikh shootings in Oak Creek, Americans have learned more about the Sikh community, many for the first time. A brief introduction to Sikhism has caused people to wonder about the relationship between Sikhism, Hinduism and Islam. Each religion is a distinct tradition with unique sets of beliefs, practices and values, and at the same time, all three have coexisted for many hundreds of years in the South Asian region of the world. India

Published on The Washington Post. By Valarie Kaur and Simran Jeet Singh In the wake of the massacre at the Sikh gurdwara [house of worship] in Milwaukee, Americans are learning about Sikhs, many for the first time. As two Sikh Americans who have studied and advocated on behalf of our community for the last decade, we were at first encouraged by the national media attention – but now we’re a bit worried. We hear reporters and officials describe the attack as a case of “mistaken identity,” that Sikh Americans are

Published on The Washington Post. One day after Wade Michael Page opened fire and killed six Sikh Americans at a Milwaukee temple, the head of the U.S. Air Force Academy confused Sikhs with Muslims during a briefing before students and staff. Lt. Gen. Michael Gould is superintendent of the Colorado Springs military school. His job is to help educate, train and inspire the 4,000 young men and women at the academy to become “officers of character,” according to the school’s mission statement. Yet this highly decorated, well-educated military leader