Eighteen Years Ago Today…
Eighteen years ago today, a Sikh father was murdered in front of his store in Mesa, Arizona by a man who called himself a patriot. Balbir Singh Sodhi became the first person killed in thousands of acts of hate in the aftermath of the horror of 9/11. His murder marked the beginning of a new era of white supremacist violence that continues today.
Every year, educators show our documentary film Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath to teach students about Balbir Sodhi’s story and hate crimes in America. One professor told us that this was the first year her students were born after 9/11. More than ever, her students want to understand the history behind the hate seizing our nation today — and learn how to respond.
So — teachers, professors, and parents! We invite you to have brave discussions with your students this fall. Here are free educational resources that center Sikh American voices in films, stories, and toolkits. We invite you to use these materials and spread the word. Forward this email to the educators and parents in your life.
Scroll down to find:
- Divided We Fall, the Award-Winning Film and Educational Curricula
- A Case Study: Rana Sodhi Forgiving his Brother’s Murderer (PRI)
- A Short Story: “Go Back to Your Country”
- #NoMoreBystanders Guide
- A Sikh American Back-to-School Toolkit (Sikh Coalition)
- Three Ways to Take Political Action Now (SAALT)
Today we remember Balbir Uncle and the thousands of people who have been beaten, stabbed, shot, and killed at the hands of white supremacist terrorism — from Oak Creek to Charleston to Pittsburgh to Christchurch to El Paso.
We also remember all those who have been detained, deported, tortured, or killed by state-sanctioned policies in the name of patriotism and national security in the last eighteen years. The white nativist forces we see today has its roots in centuries of American history, and most immediately in the aftermath of 9/11.
So let us look to how our communities have risen up, organized, and responded to injustice with fierce, demanding revolutionary love.
Say their names.
Learn their stories.
Declare yourself an ally.
Teach the next generation.
– Valarie, Amy, Melissa, Julianna, Elizabeth, and the Revolutionary Love Fellows
What if this is not the darkness of the tomb but the darkness of the womb? Remember the wisdom of the midwife. Labor requires pain and love. Here are ways to breathe and push together…
Our award-winning film Divided We Fall explores hate, bigotry, and belonging in America in the aftermath of 9/11. For the last decade, the film has been used on 300+ campuses to spark dialogue and reflection. It is now available online for free and comes with up-to-date teacher´s guides and dialogues questions to use in your classroom, house of worship, or even your living room. Check out resources here. You can also order a DVD of the film on Amazon here.
On the fifteen-year anniversary of Balbir Sodhi’s murder, his younger brother Rana and advocate Valarie Kaur did something that was previously unthinkable. They asked: who is the one person we have not yet tried to love? They decided to call his murderer. You can hear their conversation here, a collaboration with PRI. Listen, watch, and read this exchange with your students in order to explore themes of restorative justice, forgiveness, reckoning, and reconciliation.
Short Story: “Go back to the country you came from!”
Read this true account of a recent incident with your students to spark dialogue:
She said it effortlessly, as if it was just in the air. She had only to reach out and grab hold of it and aim it at my father and son….
My parents came home shaken.
“Didn’t anyone speak up?” I asked.
“No one said anything,” my mom said, more upset by the bystanders than the assailant. There was a small crowd of about fifteen people watching. A few offered sympathies after the fact, but no one did anything while it happened. Just like last time, when my father was walking on the beach with my son, wearing a baby carrier, and a man called him “suicide bomber.” And the time before that, when I confronted a man shouting “sand-nigger” in our neighborhood restaurant. Each time, there were bystanders who did nothing.
In the face of spreading hate violence and cruelty, we must move beyond silence to action. We’ve compiled a list of resources and orgs working to educate people about how respond when others are targeted. Please read and share widely.
Check out this first-ever back to school toolkit brought to you by our partners at the Sikh Coalition. It offers critical resources to make classrooms a more safe and inclusive space for Sikh students.
Join our friends at SAALT in taking action:
- Demand that your Member of Congress REJECT the creation of NEW domestic terrorism charges to fight white supremacy. This would only serve to further harm communities of color who have always been the targets of such policies.
- Join the fight to repeal the Muslim Ban by supporting the No Muslim Ban Ever campaign and DEMAND Congress to pass the NO BAN Act. Stay tuned for more information on the September 24th Congressional hearing on the Muslim Ban.
- URGE your Member of Congress to support the Khalid Jabara Heather Heyer NO HATE Act, a comprehensive bill that promotes more accurate hate crimes data collection and provide support for hate crime victims and their families. It is named in honor of two recent victims of hate crimes, whose deaths were omitted from the FBI hate crimes statistics.