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Sikhs Occupying Wall Street

In October I wrote a piece about Sikhs and the Occupy Wall Street movement, stating, “I havent seen one other person who was easily identifiable as a Sikh. Im sure other Sikhs have come through at different times, but to be sure, this is no significant Sikh presence.” I am glad to report that this has most definitely changed. I see Singhs and Kaurs at Zuccotti Park aka Liberty Square almost every time I am down there (which is quite often!). In fact, one day last week, there were six turbans in Liberty Square at one time. Needless to say, I was pretty excited, and proud.

"Occupy Yoga" at Liberty Square

In my last post, I made an argument for why Sikhs should be supportive of the Occupy Together movements from a Sikh philosophical perspective, discussing the Khalsa revolution’s “plebian mission,” as Jagjit Singh calls it, and our Gurus’ calls to stand with the poor, the “lowest of the low.”

This time I want to focus less on the ideology and more on the process of Occupy Wall Street, on what is actually happening there.

The primary decision-making body at Occupy Wall Street (and most of the other Occupy movements) is the General Assembly, which is a large gathering run by consensus process (technically modified consensus where a 9/10 vote is needed to pass a proposal if consensus cannot be reached). In NYC’s Occupy Wall Street movement, we have just adopted an additional consensus-based model for decision-making called a spokes council, where each working group or caucus will have a “spoke” in the large wheel of the movement, and each group will have to rotate its spoke for each meeting to ensure collectivity and prevent hierarchies.

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Article of Faith: A Portrait of a Sikh-American Activist

When I met Sonny, I felt that his story demanded to be told. I was moved by his willingness to share difficult stories about how racism, xenophobia, and islamophobia impact him in a very daily and intimate ways. But more importantly, I was inspired by how he had turned this hardship into a motivation to fight for social justice for all people. I was welcomed with incredible warmth, and inspired by the Sikh traditions seeing the divine in all people, and fighting for equality.-Christina Antonakos-Wallace, Producer and Director of Article of Faith

To continue a discussion about bullying and bias-based harassment that seems to be appearing both here on The Langar Hall and also within langar halls across the nation, we wanted to take the time to highlight an inspiring documentary which discusses this very issue. Article of Faith is a short film, directed and produced by Christina Antonakos-Wallace, portraying one Sikh activist, Sonny Singh, who organizes New York City Sikh youth to combat harassment in their schools. Sonny shares his own, very personal experience with bullying recognizing how incredibly important it is for us to openly dialogue about these issues, so that other children who are experience similar challenges do not feel like they are alone.

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Challenge the Darkness for the [Unheard] Voices of Punjab

03.jpgThis week, Ensaaf launched their Challenge the Darkness campaign. The aim of the campaign is to remember human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalraand bring awareness to the mass state crimes committed in Punjab, India from 1984 to 1995. At the end of the month, Ensaaf and the Khalra Mission Organisation will participate in a series of events to remember Khalra’s abduction, torture, illegal detention, and murder. We’ll update you on these events as information comes our way.

Post-1984 memory is often forgotten and yet hundreds of thousands of human rights abuses have been documented in Punjab during the 1984 to 1995 period when the Indian government ordered counterinsurgency operations that led to the detention, torture and enforced disappearance of thousands of Sikhs. Police abducted young Sikh men on suspicion that they were involved in militancy, often in the presence of witnesses, yet later denied having them in custody. See the Human Rights Watch Photo Essay here.

Director General of Police KPS Gill expanded upon a system of rewards and incentives for police to capture and kill militants, leading to a dramatic increase in disappearances and extrajudicial executions. By the end of the “Decade of Disappearances” in 1995, security forces had disappeared or killed tens of thousands of Sikhs. In order to cover up their crimes, Punjab security forces illegally detained, tortured, and killed human rights defenders such as Jaswant Singh Khalra and Sukhwinder Singh Bhatti, as well as secretly cremated thousands of victims of extrajudicial executions. [via Ensaaf]

In September 1995, Punjab police abducted human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra from his home for his discovery of thousands of illegal killings and secret cremations by the Punjab police. At the end of this post, you can view two videos depicting the events leading up to and of his disappearance.

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This is what profiling looks like

It’s been quite a day here in New York City. I woke up at 3am this morning and arrived at Liberty Square at 4:00 to protect the Occupy Wall Street encampment from eviction. Sleep deprived but fired up, I joined with thousands of others who showed up to stand in solidarity with this growing movement for economic justice. Before I left my house, I wrote the phone number for the National Lawyers Guild on my arm with a Sharpie, preparing for a possible arrest.

I was planning on participating in civil disobedience this morning. I expected to sit down and lock arms with hundreds of others, forming a barrier around Liberty Square to keep park owner Brookfield’s sanitation crew, and the police, from entering the park and in effect, ending the occupation (occupation in this case being a good thing, for a change).

As many of you have probably heard by now, Brookfield Properties postponed its cleaning of the park at the last minute, and the Mayor instructed the NYPD to hold off in its plans to remove the protesters. We were thrilled, elated, victorious this morning. We held the park, and the occupation of Wall Street continues.

Several hours later after a long nap at home in Brooklyn, I rode my bike back into downtown Manhattan to meet up near the World Trade Center site with some family visiting from India (a few short blocks from where my day began at 4am). My family was running late, so I sat on the corner we decided to meet on, leaning against a fence. After about five minutes, two men wearing hoodies and jeans approached me. One of them unzipped his hoodie, revealing an NYPD badge.

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Wall Street Sikhs, Corporate Tyranny, and the 99%

By now I imagine most of you have heard about Occupy Wall Street in New York City and the growing “Occupy” movement all over the country. Inspired by the mass uprisings of the Arab Spring, the movement is uniting under the banner, “We are the 99%”, in its protest of unprecedented economic inequality and Wall Street and corporate power and influence in the United States.

The official declaration of #OccupyWallStreet, released last week (as a working document), states:

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human racerequires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, andupon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights,and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power fromthe people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people andthe Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined byeconomic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit overpeople, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. Wehave peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

The mainstream media coverage of the protest, now in its 18th consecutive day, has largely downplayed its significance or remained silent all together. Some in the movement, thus, raised $12,000 on Kickstarter in 3 days (now over $40K) and published 50,000 copies of the “Occupied Wall Street Journal,” grassroots media at its best. This says a lot about what is going on at Liberty Square (what protesters call the park they are occupying). People, many with little background in activism, are taking matters into their own hands, and building a democratic movement against corporate tyranny.

I have been participating in the growing protests regularly for the last week, and generally feel inspired and hopeful about what is happening in downtown Manhattan, despite some frustrations, some of which Sepia Mutiny just blogged about today. My time at Liberty Square–sometimes spent attending the nightly General Assemblies (where decisions are made by consensus, not unlike the Sikh Sarbat Khalsa process), sometimes participating in marches, sometimes playing a musical instrument–leaves me thinking about how this movement relates to Sikhs and Sikhi.

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Updated: Because it’s a matter of life and death

UPDATED ON 9/22/11 at 11:00am (after the fold)

On Wednesday, September 21st at 7pm, the state of Georgia plans to end the life of Troy Davis. Davis’s only hope at this point may be if prison staff refuse to carry out the execution, if they courageously stand up for what is right, rather than blindly follow orders. He has stated many times, They can take my body but not my spirit, because I have given my spirit to God.

No, Troy Davis is not a Sikh nor does he or his case have any direct connection to the Sikh community. But I am writing this tonight, after his final attempt for clemency denied by the state, to ask you to keep Troy Davis in your thoughts and prayers and to take action in whatever way you see fit. You can immediately sign this petition, you can call or emailJudge Penny Freesemann at 912-652-7252/[email protected] and urge the halt of the execution, you can attend a local rally, you can include Troy in your ardas.

Why?

Because since Davis’s conviction for the murder of a police officer in 1989, seven of the nine witnesses that testified against him have recanted their testimonies.

Because no murder weapon was ever found, and no DNA evidence exists connecting Davis to the crime.

Because some witnesses say another man committed the crime, a witness who testified against Davis.

Because many witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying against Troy Davis.

Because Troy Davis is a 42-year-old man who should have many more years to live on this planet.

Because as Sikhs, it is our duty to stand up for what is right. The planned execution of Davis is a tragic symptom of a broken and inhumane criminal justice system (which I’ve discussed before here and here). This is a Sikh issue. Indeed, Harinder Singh of the Sikh Research institute states,

As a Sikh, I must fight for criminal justice reforms, as the founders of my faith set the precedent when confronting the Mughal dynasty in South Asia. Guru Nanak confronted Emperor Babar over mass incarcerations, and Guru Hargobind championed prisoners rights by challenging Emperor Jahangir; both Gurus, founders of Sikhi, were imprisoned for doing so.

What are we willing to do for Troy Davis and the Troy Davises of the world?

It’s a matter of life and death.

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Nishaan – The Sikh Society Network

Guest blogged byNaujawani Sardar

321314_116006055172592_115613338545197_82003_1811328298_n.jpgThere has been a lot of talk about the SGPC elections recently, even over on our blog. And it got me thinking about a whole range of things from ‘selection vs. election’ to Sikh bodies outside of Punjab. My life in Sikh circles has been positively fascinating for over two decades now, but one of the things I have found most difficult to deal with has been the tension that arises around Sikh representative bodies. Before you stop reading, I’m not going to write about the SGPC – although what I’m writing about could quite easily fit the world of any organisation that represents Sikhs, and specifically those who have had to face false accusations.

“Nishaan is a new organisation consisting of university Sikh Societies across London and the South East of England. It is created on the principle of for the students by the students.”

That is taken directly from the biography of ‘Nishaan‘ – a body of university students at institutions in London who have been collaborating and working closely together for the last year. In actual fact some amongst this group of students and this movement itself began in earnest four years ago when one particular University Sikh society at Imperial College London established an annual meal and gathering of Sikh socs from around the capital; they called the event ‘Collaborations’. Following that, students looked to ‘collaborate’ more often, but in reality it didn’t work efficiently because communication was poor, organisation was overly dependent on single individuals and the age-old division of jatha-affiliation reared its head.

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Faith groups file lawsuit over Alabama’s new anti-immigrant law

I was listening to NPR a few nights ago while cooking dinner and was excited to hear about a group of Christian and Catholic clergy in Alabama taking action against a new anti-immigrant law in their state.

A few months ago, Alabama followed in Arizona’s footsteps in passing a bill that many are calling the most sweeping anti-immigrant law in the country, going even farther than Arizona’s highly controversial SB 1070.

Alabama’s new bill, H.B. 56, includes similar provisions to Arizona’s SB 1070, including one that authorizes local police to ask anyone they stop about their immigration status based on “reasonable suspicion,” amounting to the legalization of racial profiling.

[H.B. 56] bars illegal immigrants from enrolling in any public college after high school. It obliges public schools to determine the immigration status of all students, requiring parents of foreign-born students to report the immigration status of their children.

The bill…also makes it a crime to knowingly rent housing to an illegal immigrant. It bars businesses from taking tax deductions on wages paid to unauthorized immigrants. (link)

The law also makes it illegal to enter into a contract with, harbor, or transport undocumented immigrants.

Alabama’s Methodist, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic Churches have sued the state of Alabama over this law, saying it violates their religious freedom. Melissa Patrick of the United Methodist Church of Alabama states, “This new legislation goes against the tenets of our Christian faith to welcome the stranger, to offer hospitality to anyone.”

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Shaheedi & Justice

We have many songs that remind us of Shaheeds; we acknowledge them in our Ardas; and they are an integral part of our Sikh history. It is a powerful experience to hear how an integral concept in Sikhi manifests in other communities. Specifically the Muslim community, which also adheres to a concept of Shaheedi.

Often times in the media, the concept of Shaheedi has been presented as a form of brainwashing done by religious and political leaders to condone terrorism and violence for their own self-interests. However, a recent NPR report highlights how two devote Muslim men from America became Shaheeds out of their own strong will to bring justice back to their home country of Libya.

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Mabruk Eshnuk (left) and his son Malik (right) left their home in Pittsburgh to volunteer and fight with rebels in western Libya's Nafusa Mountains.

A father and son left their home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA) to participate in the Libyan revolution. Mabruk Eshnuk and his 21-year old middle son, Malik Eshnuk, died fighting the forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in western Libya.

Mabruk, a devoute Muslim had immigrated from Libya as a teenager. He taught Islam to convicts in the Pennsylvania state penitentiary system. In 2006, he housed the family of a young Iraqi boy who was getting lifesaving treatment in the United States. He said, “Everything that we do and work and help, it’s based on the Quran. Outraged over what was happening in Libya, he took his middle son to fight in the Western mountains of Libya.

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Some Notes and Random Musings

295225_10150292952132958_501602957_7814496_8072444_n.jpgGuestblogged byMewa Singh.

Here are some general musings and broader notes/reflections that were sparked by my participation in the camp:

On Parenting One thing I found quite interesting was changes in parenting styles. I dont remember having had many choices as a child, when my parents were going to put their foot down, and it seems my own parents confirm this. With the camp, I noticed we had so many parents expressed their desire for their sons to attend, only to begin avoiding our calls as the date approached and telling us our son doesnt want to go. Many of the same parents often complained our son doesnt listen to us and just watches TV all day. I was left wondering, how do these children have the choice? A parent has the ability to parent and limit the childs television viewing, if they so desire. A parent is not helpless to say our child doesnt listen so we must accept the status quo. Many parents desire to be the friend of their child, or be the good guy/gal and never say no. With so many of my friends young parents, I wonder how they will be setting boundaries.

On Consumerism Now members of our community are part of the broader society and one would hardly expect larger sociological issues such as consumerism to not affect us. Still the degrees seem far more now than in my youth. I remember kids having and even getting beat up and their shoes stolen if they had the latest Jordans. With 13-year olds having iPhones, 16-year olds getting BMWs for their birthdays (Jodha had a reflection on this some time ago), and wardrobe prices that went far beyond our $15 jeans from Marshalls, I wonder what are we teaching our children? Ask parents to send their children to a Sikh workshop or even Punjabi/Khalsa school at their Gurdwara and parents will begin about fees being far too high. What do we actually value and what do we wish to teach our children to value?

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Reflections on Bhujangi 2011

Bhujangi_Jakara___Tshirt.JPGGuest-blogged by Mewa Singh. Mewa Singh is a sevadar with the Jakara Movement.

The term bhujang has a Sanskritic base and is used to refer to a small snake. The Mughals and Afghans of the 18th century employed the term as a pejorative to refer to the Sikhs as bhujangs. Try as they might, they could never completely eradicate from the garden these bhujangs. In the eternal optimism that defines the spirit of chardikala, the Singhs and Kaurs of the period appropriated the term and endorsed it to give it a new connotation. Their young were in fact bhujangs that would bite the feet of Mughals, Afghans, and other imperial powers. Today the term is still widely used by Nihang Sikhs in reference to their offspring. A young Sikh boy is called a bhujangi and a young Sikh girl a bhujangan.

Reviving and reinterpreting our historic terminology were part of the naming process of this unique camp.

With the Gurus Grace, from August 1-10, I had the opportunity to be a sevadar for the Jakara Movements first annual Bhujangi Youth Academy. Unlike anything else in our community before, the academy specifically served the needs of at-risk young Punjabi Sikh males.

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Unifying Sikhs: A Riot Story

Guest blogged by Naujawani Sardar

When the riots began in London last Saturday, we all thought they were a one-off incident and the world would be back to normal by Monday. Instead we awoke to find that more shops had been looted, buildings were still being set ablaze and that the rioters were now widening their search for new canvases to destruct. The thought was certainlythere in the back of my mind, throughout my working day on Monday, but I think I purposely ignored it, hoping that it just would not happen: could a gurdwara be targeted?

IMG00057_20110809_1846.jpgA small number of Sikhs however did not let the thought fall out of sight and continued to monitor the situation. Having realised that a problem may arise, albeit very late at night, they spent the best part of the night driving across London from one Gurdwara to the next to ensure that there was adequate security in place. Where there was not, one man stayed behind or where possible, awoke a local friend to come in. Thus was sewn the seed for a collaborative effort from a number of individuals to coordinate Sikhs that wanted to defend their Gurdware. Throughout Tuesday, Facebook, Twitter and SMS text messages were used to inform and mobilise people into preparing for the night(s) ahead. We at Naujawani also played a small role in coordinating these efforts and garnering support from individuals which personally gave mea greater insight into how things developed over the last 48 hours. It was clear to a few of us that if we were to have any success, people had to be appropriately distributed to different Gurdware. In west London, Southall is naturally the hub and meeting point, but throughout the rioting other Gurdware to the north and east of London were at a higher risk.

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Brooklyn Singh vs. Walmart

I just got an email from the Working Families Party (a progressive political party in NYC) about the latest developments in mega-corporation Walmart’s latest attempts to set up shop in NYC. One of the biggest real estate development companies in the city called Related is reportedly in discussions with Walmart about building its first NYC store in the Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York. The below video put together by ALIGN, the Alliance for a Greater New York, features a Sikh business owner, Iqbal Chhabra.

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This video warmed my heart for several reasons. It goes without saying that I live in Brooklyn and am concerned with all things Brooklyn. Brooklyn is not exactly known for its large Sikh population. I see the occasional Sikh construction worker or shop owner, but I don’t know of too many other Brooklynwale Singhs or Kaurs. So I was pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Chhabra speaking out about an important Brooklyn-based issue in this video.

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Unlocking Sikh Creativity (in a Rainforest!)

Kudarat 2011 atOlympic National Parkon July 21- 24
“Inspiration from Within: Unlocking Sikh Creativity”

In my experience at conferences/retreats, or at youth camps there is a huge emphasis on sangat. What is it? Who are they? Or, how as an individual, we can make impact. In these discussions, I have intellectually understood sangat and, in some instances, would even go as far to say that I have experienced it.

It is in this moment of EXPERIENCE that relationships develop. Whether with each other through the shared experience, with the Guru, with a feeling, or with an idea.

Tolsoy has explained art within a similar paradigm. The activity of art is based on the fact that a man, receiving through his sense of hearing or sight another man’s expression of feeling, is capable of experiencing the emotion which moved the man who expressed it.”

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Save Bhullar – A Beginner’s Guide to the Case

bhullar.jpgThis post has been long overdue. Pagh salute to @SimNona for pushing me to finalize and publish it.

Larger and larger sections of the Sikh community are becoming familiar with the case. Despite the snide comments of the Indian media, even they have caught wind to the increasing T-shirts being seen far and wide, throughout Punjab. The Canadian youth, with the Sikh Activist Network at the forefront, have expressed their concern. The Sikh Federation has pushed for resolutions in the European Parliament and statements of concern by UK Parliamentarians. Amnesty International has weighed in with its opinion. This past weekend the mother of the discussed pleaded the case at the historic Stockton Gurdwara.

What am I talking about? The case of Professor Devender Pal Singh (Davinderpal Singh Bhullar).

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Disentangling Sikh Issues

Lets see how this one goes.

Now first off, I love the Sikh Activist Network. On the cutting edge of engagement, culture, and arts, they are one of the most fascinating, experimental, and exciting Sikh organizations. Driven by the youth, they have created venues, places for conversation, and new levels of engagement that have energized the Sikh youth, throughout Canada (especially in the GTA), and have inspired many of us in the US, UK, and beyond. They were part of the leaders in the protests against Kamal Nath, increasing the awareness of the case of Prof. Bhullar, in the push towards the genocide recognition in the Canadian Parliament, and even in exposing politicians that do not serve the community.

So my criticism here is not about the organization or even one of the most exciting events in the diaspora When Lions Roar. These have been featured in The Langar Hall over the years and have generated plenty of praise and enthusiasm. This years third annual WLR was an absolute success, with nearly 4000 attendees. You can read about it at our sister blog Kaurista.

My focus for this post is much more limited. It is on the promo. It is for this reason that I waited well until the program was over to write this post. In some ways the promo provides a springboard for a conversation and a framework for tackling it that is often used in the community, so in that way it is much bigger than the promo. Before reading the rest, watch it here and then continue below the fold.

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150+ Revolutionaries – Answering a Lalkaar

Guest-blogged by Mewa Singh. Mewa Singh is a sevadar with the Jakara Movement.

Previously, here in The Langar Hall, there was a discussion by Navdeep Singh on an important panel discussion, held in NYC, on faith, feminism, and Sikhi. Brooklynwala had asked for a comment and report about Lalkaar 2011, and I am more than happy to oblige.

However, before getting into that, I wanted to strongly encourage our Sikh youth sangat throughout California to come to Fresno/Kerman this coming weekend for an amazing opportunity. While most Sikh organizations depend on large contributions by high-fly financiers with their own set of pre-conditions, Sikh youth organizations such as the Jakara Movement and the Sikh Activist Network do not. The Jakara Movement’s biggest donors are its own members, making small contributions and the sweat and blood of its own members that come every year to sell fireworks. This is truly grassroots, where the youth give their own labor for causes and projects they love. Check out the video, follow the facebook event page to sign up, and then click below the fold for my report on Lalkaar 20111.

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What Happens When Lions Roar?

203017_505627674_1913310_n.jpgToronto is abuzz. This weekend the IIFA [International Indian Film Academy]awards are being held in Toronto to many a South Asians delight.We are, however,delighted about Toronto for another reason. This weekend, The Sikh Activist Network will be hosting When Lions Roar 3 a night of hip hop, poetry, R&B and other art to remember the events of 1984.

There is much that can be said about the comparisons between the two events. The IIFA essentially celebrates bollywood an industry that frustrates many conscious Sikhs living in both India and the diaspora. The representation of Sikhs in bollywood films has been an area of discontent with Punjabis and Sikhs being portrayed as hypermasculineand other cringe-worthystereotypical roles [read Navdeeps piece, Media and the Sikhs]. While many applaud the increased presence of Sikh turbans in bollywood films, others may argue that this presence has not necessarily changed thetypical Indians perception of Sikhs in a positive way. For example, in Indian media Sikhs continue to be portrayed with words such as terrorist, extremist and radical [read this inaccurate and uninformed article]. Im not anti-bollywood by any means there are definite exceptions to the bollywood trend of representing Sikhs in a one-dimensional manner. However, I think its important that as a community, we stay informed and expect authentic representation of Sikhs (whether in books or films or other art forms). Bollywood is a huge industry thathas an enormous influence onbuilding or breaking downperceptions of groups and communities. [Side note: its interesting to me that discussions about Sikhs in bollywood never revolve around Punjabi or Sikh women. This may be a good or bad thing, but perhaps its a discussion for another time].

It is clear that the Sikh community cannot rely upon an industry to change overnight instead, we should focus on supporting and celebrating the immense diversity that makes up our community.

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Incarceration & Religious Freedom: A Sikh Story from Behind Bars

A few years ago I was putting up some flyers on street poles and bulletin boards in Williamsburg, Brooklyn promoting an upcoming concert for my band. If you’re from New York City, you know Williamsburg is a neighborhood covered with concert flyers and band logos, and the home of dozens of music venues filled with indie rock-loving, skinny jeans-wearing hipsters (for the record, this has nothing to do with me nor my old band).

After a few minutes of putting up a bunch of flyers with tape, I was suddenly surrounded by 4 police cars and their flashing sirens. One of the cops approached me, while the others stayed close behind. He had one of our flyers in his hand and asked if I put it up. I said yes. He informed me this was “graffiti” and was illegal. I apologized and said I was not aware of that. He took my ID, talked to his colleagues, and the next thing I know I’m being aggressively handcuffed and put into the back of a police car without any explanation.

To make a long story short, I was arrested because a few years prior to the flyering incident, I got stopped and cited for riding my bicycle for a few feet on a sidewalk (in the rain) and never appeared in court for this egregious violation of the law and disturbance to the peace.

But this isn’t a story about why I got arrested and how ludicrous it is that these cops arrested me rather than asking me to please not put up flyers on street poles (which were already covered with flyers). This isn’t a story about racial or religious profiling and about if these (white) cops were driven by bias or if they were paying special attention to a turbaned, bearded brown man walking down a gentrified, newly predominantly white hipster block of Brooklyn.

This is a story about incarceration.

When I was taken to the precinct, still not knowing why I was arrested or what the hell was going on, I was aggressively and invasively patted down (more like groped) and searched by the officer who arrested me. After a few conversations with other officers at the precinct, I started putting the pieces together in my head as to why I was arrested, and they assured me that I’d be out of there in a few hours. I felt a bit relieved, though still anxious. I was hopeful that I could keep my head up and make it through this with my self-respect and dignity in tact.

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Contest: Ladoos Pink and Blue

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Crowdsourcing has its uses. Here is one.

This year the Jakara Movement is celebrating its 12th annual Lalkaar Conference with the theme Kaur Voices: Exalt, Express, Empower. Hosted in Sacramento this week, June 16-19, 2011 – I am sure the conference will be a success.

The email I received announcing this contest, reminded me about when I attended this conference on the same theme 5 years ago. Back then, we brainstormed about the need to create creative ‘community-solutions’ to problems in our community, like sex-selective abortion. The idea for Ladoos: Pink and Blue was born. Now 5 years later, they are making it a reality.

The guidelines to the competition are easy:

We aim to create a gift box that would include health-related brochures, inspirational Sikh literature, and a number of Sikh Baby Firsts a kara, a gutka, a bib (proclaiming a proud new Singh and Kaur), and many other Sikh-inspired items. The decorative box will serve as a keepsake that will be found in the homes of all Sikhs and to be kept and cherished for years to come.

The winner will receive a$100 Visa Gift Card as well as the satisfaction of seeing their creation in the homes of all Sikhs, in a celebration of equality.

Please submit by July 15, 2011.

Submissions should be created using Adobe Illustrator. We will take submissions in other programs, but highly recommend Illustrator. If using Photoshop, please make sure to use minimum 300dpi. Hand drawn/scanned submissions will also be considered.

Please remember you have to design all sides (top, left, right, back, front panels)

Submit your projects at this link.

As I can’t draw, if my life depended on it, I look forward to seeing all of your submissions and to the future of this project. I will keep you posted!

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