How do we stop Sikh-Americans from bearing the brunt of heightened racist sentiments, again?

Extending olive branches, therefore, in the form of self-education is a good first step toward creating a world where di...

At the beginning of this year, Gurbir Singh Grewal was appointed the sixty-first Attorney General of the State of New Jersey. He is the first Sikh-American Attorney General in United States history ― making Grewal the state's "top cop and top lawyer," whose role it is to oversee the Department of Law and Public Safety and to protect life and property.

Since his appointment, he has discharged his public duties diligently and conscientiously by addressing the opioid crisis, defending immigrant rights, reproductive rights and access to health care, as well as bolstering consumer protection and labour laws.

But despite his meritorious record in office, Grewal has been a victim of persistent anti-Sikh sentiment...

...A report prepared by South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a non-profit organisation advocating for racial justice, found that the 2016 election of Donald Trump "amplified a wave of hate violence against South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities to heights not seen since the year after the attacks of September 11, 2001".

The report covered the period between 9 November 2016 to 7 November 2017 ― effectively the first year of the Trump presidency ― and noted a 64 per cent increase in hate violence against those who identify as or are perceived as being South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab.

Calling on communities to change

So, what can be done?

According to Satjeet Kaur, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition, the answer could be as simple as getting to know a Sikh person. "The prejudice and hostility aimed at the Sikh community in America is often visceral, but it's also often only skin-deep," she says. "More often than not, once people take the time to learn about the Sikh community, its faith and traditions, perceptions change."

The Sikh Coalition has been driving campaigns to create safer schools and end workplace discrimination by working at the local, state and federal levels to raise Sikh awareness among educators, media outlets, government agencies and elected officials...

...But, Morrison insists the onus cannot solely be on the people facing prejudices. She says we all have a duty to take steps to educate ourselves.

Extending olive branches, therefore, in the form of self-education is a good first step toward creating a world where diversity, mutual respect and tolerance ― whether of a Muslim hijab or a Jewish kippah or a Sikh turban and beard ― is the norm.

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