By Sonny Caberwal

As I watched the presidential debates recently, I heard a term thrown around that made me shiver- Islamofascism. While the threat of terrorism scares me, the discussion around terrorism has implications that are just as frightening, when these types of terms enter our common vernacular. A recent Gallup poll showed that 40% of Americans admit to feeling prejudice against Muslims. As social dialogue continually associates Islam primarily with terrorism and evil, we unintentionally facilitate an unjustified hatred for Islam and anything that may be even tangentially relate to it. This has a very real and scary impact on peoples' daily lives. One of the places it can have the greatest impact is somewhere we've all been before - the schoolyard.

As you may know, I'm currently one of the models in Kenneth Cole's new advertising campaign, which tackles this issue of stereotypes in the media head on. As a Sikh man, I wear a turban, which is an integral part of the Sikh identity. However, in the United States, the vast majority of media coverage related to turbans focuses on another group of people who wear different types of turbans - Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists. Unfortunately, this has had a significantly detrimental impact on the daily lives of Sikhs around the world, who are now frequently mistaken for Islamic fundamentalists, although they are not even Muslim. While nobody should be persecuted because of their religion, including Muslims, Sikhs in particular have faced a disproportionate impact from post 9/11 bias crimes.

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