When the FBI arrested two Pakistani-Americans as suspected terrorists in Lodi, CA this June, the small farming town became the center of national and international media attention. But news media has not shown the extent to which the FBI has followed, monitored, and intimidated the greater Muslim American community there, including families who have lived and farmed in Lodi for generations. VEENA DUBAL, my classmate at Stanford, detailed the Lodi case in her article, The FBI Witch-Hunt in Lodi, California. Read her article for the entire story about
We spent this afternoon with the AKHTER family, a Muslim American family in Gilroy, California, who I first visited in October 2001. I remember eight-year old SAMIR (pictured) the most: "The kids call me bin Laden’s son, and all of their friends were putting their lunch pails on my face like this, and they called me bin Laden’s face. They smashed lunch pails on my face so that I couldn’t breathe. I said no, I’m not the bad guy, and I don’t want to be a bad guy.
After a weeklong break in production, we hit the road again. We spent five days in Phoenix, Arizona, to revisit THE SODHI FAMILY whose story set this film in motion nearly four years ago. On September 15, 2001, BALBIR SINGH SODHI (pictured) was standing in front of his gas station, preparing to plant flowers. A man in a black truck pulled around the corner and shot him five times. Balbir, 52 years old, was the first person to be killed in a post-9/11 hate crime. When arrested, the
Today, we interviewed California Assemblymember Judy Chu who pioneered a number of hate crimes legislation to protect the rights of Sikh, Arab, and Muslim communities in California since September 11, 2001. She spoke with knowledge and eloquence about how lives have changed for many minorities who now fear discrimination in their own neighborhoods. She remembers learning about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II in college as a student of Asian American Studies. Her awareness of the power of fear and hysteria in times of war
It is the day before production begins. Today we went to Kodak to pick up the film. Sharat and I stopped inside the office first to thank Candace, the woman who decided to give us our film stock at almost half the price. I met her for the first time and shook her hand. "This film is four years in the making. Thank you so much for making this possible." We have come this far because of people like her. People who helped us for no other reason