Tag Archives: sikh

Open Thread: The Oak Creek Shooting

From the Journal Sentinel. Photo by Kyle Grillot.

Yet another tragedy this year, spurred on by yet another lone gunman with an agenda. This time, the shooter murdered six Sikhs in their house of worship. The New York Times reports:

In an attack that the police said they were treating as “a domestic terrorist-type incident,” the gunman stalked through the temple around 10:30 a.m. Congregants ran for shelter and barricaded themselves in bathrooms and prayer halls, where they made desperate phone calls and sent anguished texts pleading for help as confusion and fear took hold. Witnesses described a scene of chaos and carnage.

Here’s the statement from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund:

On Sunday, a horrific mass shooting took place at the Sikh gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, as members of the Sikh community were preparing for a peaceful religious gathering. It has been reported that a white male killed six people, and he was later killed himself after exchanging fire with a police officer.

AALDEF condemns this blatant act of terrorism against innocent people at a house of worship, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, the three continuing to fight for their lives in critical condition, and the entire Sikh community in Oak Creek, whose lives have been changed and feeling of safety shattered.

While details continue to emerge on this tragedy, the 700,000 Sikhs living in the United States have increasingly been victims of hate and discrimination. The media coverage following this tragedy, including CNN Network’s disturbing decision to distinguish Sikhs and Muslims, which implicitly suggested an attack on Muslims is within expectation, as well as the initial hesitation to call this an act of terrorism, show how severely intolerance and ignorance have been allowed to persist in our country, and the immediate need to stop it in all of its forms.

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel has more editorials, news, and updates.

Questions and Answers

by Guest Contributor Neesha Meminger

A couple of weeks ago I had the Toronto launch of my novel, Shine, Coconut Moon. I prepared myself in the usual way, going over what I would read, how I would introduce myself and the book to the guests, and anticipating audience questions during the Q&A. This Q&A, however, threw me off. I should have known better than to expect the usual, “So, when did you know you wanted to be a writer?” line of questioning from my Canadian peeps.

The questions they wanted answers to were more along the lines of: So, what would you say is the difference between Canadian racism and American racism? And, Would you say South Asians in the U.S. are more assimilated than South Asians in Canada?

Maybe I brought it on myself with the intro.

Before reading an excerpt, I talked a bit about how, while living in Canada, I never thought of myself as Canadian – I was always Indian or Punjabi or Sikh and then later, South Asian. It wasn’t until I moved to the U.S. and lived through eight years of the Bush administration, that I felt the most Canadian I’d ever felt in my life. That was when I realized that things I’d always taken for granted (free universal health care being only one of many) were values that formed and shaped who I was. They were the underpinnings of what I thought was right and just. And I was clearly not in Canada anymore.

But having to answer those tough questions for fellow Canadians was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do yet. So much of the experience sits as half-formed thoughts that I had to somehow mold into coherent responses.

Things like the fact that when I lived in Canada, I reveled in my “ethnicity,” wore my Indian-ness with unapologetic joy. But the minute I crossed the border I shrunk from everything that made me appear “too” ethnic. I was hassled at the border several times when I visited home and tried to return. My partner at the time begged me to remove my nose ring and to dress more “corporate” so that I would get across. And the time that I followed that advice, the crossing was smooth and uneventful. I understood, then, on a much deeper level, why that push for assimilation was so strong south of the border. Continue reading

Brutal Attack on Sikh Teen

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Last weekend in Queens, a young Sikh man was attacked and beaten so badly he may lose his left eye: Brutal Attack Has NYC Sikh Community In Uproar.

18-year-old Jasmir Singh was walking on the street early Sunday morning when he was approached by three men who demanded his money. Then they began to taunt him because of his turban, touching his hair and threatening to cut it. When he tried to run away, they beat him.

This appears to be hate crime, plain and simple. They targeted and taunted Singh because of his turban and beard — an important part of his Sikh faith. But the police and the Queens district attorney have simply classified it as a robbery and an assault. What’s up with that?

But here’s the part that kills me. That same night, police arrested two of the three suspects, described as “16-year-old Asian Pacific male and a 21-year-old Latino.” Ack. You freaking hateful idiots. That’s racist!

You’d think as people of color, as racial minorities, these two idiots would know what it’s like to be targeted and violated like this. Maybe they do. But I guess we know that ignorance and hate extends across all color. Police are still searching for the third suspect.