April 17, 2021
It is exactly one month since I last wrote a public letter like this.
I am grieved and shocked again by the shootings of eight people in Indianapolis yesterday, four of whom were from the Sikh community. With so many high-profile mass shootings recently, and overlapping with the wave of attacks on Asian Americans, it is a deeply unsettling time.
The Sikh community in the U.S. has been heavily targeted by hate crimes and discrimination. Nine years ago, six people were murdered at a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin by an avowed white supremacist. I vividly remember the wave of attacks on Sikh Americans and other South Asians and Muslims in the U.S. after 9/11. I have personally learned a great deal from the work of the Sikh Coalition, a community organization that was born out of that era of violence and continues to advocate for the community today.
As I reflect, however, I’m mindful that our knowledge and uplifting of this community should not be limited to our knowledge of hate crime. In addition to enriching us with their culture and religious tradition, Sikh Americans have a significant civic history in the U.S., including (for example) Bhagat Singh Thind, plaintiff of a Supreme Court case against the exclusion of Asians from naturalization, a case which remains fundamental to the study of race in this country.
As always, the Asian American Center will continue its work on academic and community engagement about and for all of our richly diverse ethnic populations. I truly believe that this work can help us in the short and long-term. Like many of you, I’m sure, I have often felt exhausted and weighed down this year, but I’m grateful for the energy and support that flow from our entire campus community. Once again, I hope that the resources on our site may be of some help in this sad moment.