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
The 1700% Project brilliantly captures the sense of cacophony and disorientation of post-9/11 violence for those who still live it -- all in five minutes. Amazing artwork, advocacy, and storytelling rolled into one. Watch this video: 1700% Project: Mistaken for Muslim from Anida Yoeu Ali on Vimeo. Note: the artist mentions several stories featured in Divided We Fall, including Balbir Singh Sodhi (49, killed by a man yelling "I am an American all the way") and Amrik Chawla (chased by 4 men in Manhattan yelling "turban").
SHADOW GENERATION Valarie Kaur - Huffington Post Feature - 9/15/10 What's missing in the national firestorm over Park51? The voices of young people. Here's how young people can speak out against Islamophobia without creating new enemies, starting on today. September 15, 2010 -- Nine years ago today, the murder of a family friend changed the course of my life. His name was Balbir Singh Sodhi. Four days after 9/11, he was shot in the back in front of his gas station by a man who yelled when arrested, "I'm a
Tomorrow we will honor the memory of Balbir Singh Sodhi -- and all the men and women whose lives have been lost or damaged in the aftermath of 9/11, in hate crimes at home, terrorist attacks abroad, or in two wars raging in far-away lands. Since we launched the Common Ground Campaign few days ago, 717 people have signed our Charter in all 50 states. I invite you to commemorate tomorrow by signing the Charter for Common Ground and share with your friends and family. Our goal: 915 signatures by 9:15pm on 9/15. www.commongroundcampaign.org
What would happen if we felt empathy for those who we believe hold hateful views? Would we lose some integral part of our identity or find common humanity? On every 9/11 anniversary, I find myself showing my film or giving a talk, but this year, in the spirit of the Common Ground Campaign, I spent the day listening instead of speaking. And what I found surprised me. During the memorial at Ground Zero, as families gathered to remember and grieve, one man who lost his wife told the New
It is the morning of September 15th, eight years since the hate murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi. I sit with a candle in memory of Uncle Ji -- and in honor of untold numbers of people whose names will never be read at Ground Zero, but whose lives were lost or damaged in the ongoing aftermath of terrorist attacks, whether in the name of hate or vengeance or security. Please join me in this day of memorial. Light a candle. Take a moment of silence. Invite friends or
Today, I stood at the front of a classroom and watched fifty squirming fourth and fifth graders enter single-file for their special presentation in North Kenwood/Oakwood Elementary School. As the teacher managed to seat them in perfect rows on the floor, my co-producer Sharat Raju leaned over and whispered, “These kids are young!” He was right. They could not have been more than nine or ten years old. My mouth opened to give my usual introduction – after all, this was our third year on tour with our
Today, I was invited to present at Tubman Middle School in the inner-city of Augusta, Georgia. The students live in a depressed part of Augusta where textile workers used to live before the mills shut down. They have grown up with gang violence in their neighborhoods and go through routine weapons inspections at schools. These kids know violence. I have taken the film to middle-class kids at public and private schools but never inner-city kids with these kinds of experiences. I did not know what to expect. I had
On all sides, endless white snow. The snow-draped trees stretch to the horizon as far as I can see outside my car window. I have never driven through New England in February, and now Sharat Raju and I make our way between snow falls to Dartmouth College for Divided We Fall’s New Hampshire premiere. The road is long and the winter is breathtaking. Somewhere nestled in the snow, we find the small town of Hanover. A population of 6,000 people, the town’s Main Street is one block long.
There was a red carpet. Four hundred fifty people. Press cameras. Hot food. Banners that read "United We Stand, Divided We Fall." A whirl of conversation that settled when the film began. And a standing ovation when it ended. It was the night of our world premiere in Phoenix, Arizona, and it officially launched Divided We Fall into the world. The premiere was held on the eve of the five-year memorial of Balbir Sodhi's murder. Hosted by the Phoenix Sikh community, the event was a memorial for those