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This summer witnessed the burgeoning of the largest protest movement in the history of the United States. In the span of seven years, The Movement for Black Lives has forced the nation to confront its original sin, a fact most Americans have shamefully denied for centuries. In the past few months alone, the Movement has not only driven institutional racism into public discourses, but they have also forced change at the local, state, and national levels. This is both historical and history repeating itself.

Throughout U.S. history, this is how communities subjected to historical exploitation and marginalization have always fought and sacrificed. Movements in this nation's history have fought to make this nation live up to the grand ideals it professes. Through many decades of protest and demands for equity, African American, Native American, Asian American, and Latinx communities and peoples have challenged the U.S. to be free for all of its citizens. More broadly, the current protest movement, emanating from the murder of several Black people by police officers and white vigilantes in a short span of time, has initiated a reckoning with the white supremacist structures that have shaped life through U.S. politics, wealth distribution, health care, education, entertainment, sports, religion, and jurisprudence, for instance. Because of direct movement action led by Black people and Black-led organizations, and their allies, The Movement has required the nation's majority to confront white supremacy's historic and ongoing role in structuring today's widening economic inequalities.

Since the election of Donald Trump, the national resurgence in white racist groups openly marching and committing acts of violence has become part of the national discourse once again. The situation could not be more urgent for our collective livelihoods and for Sikh Americans. But to engage the Movement and its demands requires commitment and effort to learning and action. We need to understand the history that has brought us to this crisis. If we do not know the history, we cannot benefit from its lessons. 

Through the 2020 Racial Justice Series: Demystifying U.S. History and Activating Sikh Action for Black Justice Movements, SALDEF is offering one a way to jump-start our collective re-education for this Movement. Though this is a continual, life-long practice of learning and acting, it involves having uncomfortable and difficult conversations. Over the course of six sessions, SALDEF's Racial Justice Series webinar series offers an opportunity to learn with established scholars in the field of African American history, as well as Sikh American scholars who specialize in these topics. While such a short series can in no way do justice to the voluminous history of the Black struggle for freedom and justice in this country, it will offer a plethora of invaluable historical knowledge that will shock and sadden you. More importantly, it will help you to grasp what you do not know because the history is vast and shocking. Ultimately, if one lacks the self-awareness of what they are missing, they cannot address their deficiencies. We hope you will join us as we take an unflinching look at the blood-drenched history of white supremacy that has rotted the core of this nation since its birth, and forced millions of our fellow citizens into the streets this summer to demand justice and change.


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Jaideep Singh is a US historian with a focus on race in America. He holds a B.A. in History, with a focus on the comparative histories of peoples of color in the Americas, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. He is also co-founder of SALDEF.

While at Berkeley, he founded California’s first Sikh Students' Association in 1989, and actively organized among Sikhs in the Bay Area for the following decade, addressing issues such as human rights violations against Sikhs in India, Sikh sovereignty, as well as explicating Sikh history, theology and culture to the campus community. His first book manuscript, currently under review by Oxford University Press, focuses on illuminating the broader significance of three disparate case studies of contemporary, grass-roots political organizing by Sikh communities in the United States, in the late 1990s.

Over the past decade, Dr. Singh has also written extensively about the Sikh American community’s intense encounters with domestic terrorism in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, the subject of his next book, which documents and analyzes the community’s experiences post-9/11

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