My loves,

One year ago today, a gunman opened fire at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis primarily staffed by Sikhs. Eight people were killed, four were Sikh. Witnesses report that the gunman specifically hunted down Sikh employees. He is known to have visited white supremacist sites. The massacre opened a wound for Sikh Americans, going back to the Oak Creek massacre and 9/11, and long before. The police did not investigate the role of bias, and the media was mostly quiet. No  big headlines. No hashtags.

Together, we changed that. One week after the shooting, 10,000+ people and 145 partner organizations joined us in a historic multiracial, multifaith vigil to #StandWithSikhs. We were together for 2 1/2 hours to process our grief and rage. In community, we found joy. We witnessed 30+ speakers and performers weaving a tapestry of testimony, witness, music, poetry, prayer, and song — in the Sikh spirit of Chardi Kala, ever-rising spirits even in darkness.

Watch the powerful 7-minute video from the Solidarity Vigil above.

Today, I invite you to light a candle to honor the lives of all eight people killed in the massacre in Indianapolis: Matthew R. Alexander, Samaria Blackwell, Amarjeet Kaur Johal, Jaswinder Kaur, Amarjit Kaur Sekhon, Jaswinder Singh, Karli Smith, John Weisert.And I invite you to take a deep breath with me in the wake of the most recent trauma to our community: the brutal assault of a Sikh grandfather Nirmal Singh as he walked to his neighborhood gurdwara in Queens on April 3rd. Nine days later, two more Sikh elders were severely attacked in the same place. These echo the assault on another Sikh grandfather in the same neighborhood 20 years ago on 9/11. I write about Attar Singh in See No Stranger:

The past keeps bleeding into the present. White supremacist violence persists.

But we, too, persist.

To my Sikh family: May we keep speaking even when our wounds are open. May we keep telling our stories and making our art and playing our music and singing our songs and serving with our hands and fighting the good fight as our Gurus called us. For this is the time of Vaisakhi, and our Guru was preparing us for this impossible moment. To face daily news of atrocity, whether across the sea or in a subway or outside our own homes — and refuse to hide. To let our tears fall and feel the hurt, as Attar Ji did, and still say — you cannot diminish me. Still I breathe, still I serve, still I sing —

Deh Shiva bar more ihai
shush karman te kabhun na taron

“Oh God, give me this one blessing —
that I may never hold back from doing good.”

– Guru Gobind Singh Ji, Dasam Granth

Yours,
Valarie