Sarbat da Bhala in Action in Sacramento

As the Sikh community in Sacramento continues to grieve the losses of hate crime victims Surinder Singh and Gurmej Singh Atwal who were gunned down earlier this Spring (with no suspects still), the Sacramento Sikh Temple has truly embodied the Sikh spirit of sarbat da bhala this past week, extending a hand of solidarity to the gay community.

The Sacramento Sikh Temple is offering a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator of a violent hate attack on 26-year-old Seth Parker, who believes he was beaten because he is gay in the parking lot of the Strikes Family Entertainment Center in Elk Grove (the same area with Singh and Atwal were shot). Parker was punched in the face, suffering multiple facial fractures, while the attackers directed homophobic slurs at him.

A spokesperson for the gurdwara stated: “The Sikh Community condemns this disgusting attack motivated by ignorance and hate. In light of the recent murders of two Sikhs in Elk Grove and the hate crime conviction in Yolo County (of two men who attacked a Sikh taxi driver), we are especially sensitive to such crimes. We hope that our reward will help bring these criminals to justice.”

With homophobia rampant in the Sikh community, this action taken by the Sacramento Sikh community is truly courageous. They are setting a powerful example of how meaningful, lasting social change is made. Bigotry targeting our community will never truly end unless bigotry targeting all communities ends. The same hateful, ignorant logic that causes people to attack Sikhs causes others to attack our LGBT brothers and sisters. And our Muslim brothers and sisters.
As you may recall, the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-SV) offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects who shot Singh and Atwal in Elk Grove.

Solidarity appears to be on the rise in Sacramento.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently stated in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail in 1963:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

I hope we can follow in the bold and barrier-breaking path of the Sacramento community in other parts of North America and the world.

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36 Responses to “Sarbat da Bhala in Action in Sacramento”

  1. Excellent action on the gurdwara's part. I fully support this.

  2. Gaurav says:

    Thanks for posting this, and it's great to know that the Sikh temple in Sacramento is expressing solidarity against homophobic violence. But, I don't think the "arrest and conviction of the perpetrator" is necessarily the best way to respond to this attack or prevent further violence. Does sending someone to prison make them less violent – and does it make violence less likely in their community, including when they return from prision?
    Also, you mention homophobia as rampant in the Sikh community – maybe the temple could educate their community about these issues, and prioritize the prevention of further violence.

    Thanks again for your writing and your work.

  3. moorakh88 says:

    There’s no better way to show Sikhs are not fanatic Muslims.

  4. This is a good step in the right direction. We must remember at all times the human race is simply ONE – EK. When we as a race are able to shed tribal labels, only then will we truly see the beauty that we are all one brother or sister of ONE Infinite Creator will we feel compelled to stand up for the rights of all. When Guru Nanak stipulated there is no Hindu or Muslim he was trying to get the human conciousness of man to imagine no divisions of mankind (we are light underneath this bodysuit). Sikh simply means I am a learner/student and the Guru is my personal teacher, are we not all students and learners in life? Things happen in life we must now contemplate deeply within why these events are happenning, our time to leave is already written, Gurbani clearly states, there is only ONE playing the world drama.

  5. Harvinder Kaur says:

    Great post Brooklynwala, the one thing I would say is that I won't believe homophobia is rampant in the Sikh community. I actually think there's a generational divide on this issue and a larger portion of the younger generations are quite open on the issue of same-sex couples. I do know LGBTQ Sikhs who have had negative experiences, but I do believe homosexuality is something that many Sikhs are willing to be more open about. There really is no hard and fast rule in Sikhi on this issue, and so sometimes it's a matter of how folks have been sensitized, and have been introduced to this issue. I'm proud to say that my parents, who are not raised in a LGBTQ-friendly environment have expressed more curiosity and lack of exposure to this issue than phobia or judgement.

  6. […] as a means to counter any xenophobic notions about our communities which is important considering the many hate crimes and discriminatory policies facing South Asians all across the […]

  7. Tajinder says:

    I wanted to refrain for this but I cant. So tomorrow when people who molest kids declare themselves as a race and or 'ethnic', does the "Sikh spirit of sarbat da bhala" apply to these perverts as it does to these ones? I definitely have nothing against this person being helped he is a human being, and we are Sikhs. To push a pro-gay Sikh based agenda on this public form without the consent and or understanding of its social effects on the progress of Sikhs in the future to come and on the mental state of the youth within the Sikh community after they read these postings is completely irresponsible, especially when popular media is pushing a pro-gay agenda and now their peers who have been programmed by this media are doing the same.

  8. Tejinder, homosexuality like heterosexuality doesn't belong to a particular race or ethnicity, so I'm quite sure "the gays" won't be starting that movement anytime soon. But I'll keep my eye on it for you.
    I'm also not clear on what the correlation is between homosexuality and child molestation. Child molestation is done by people with a clearly perverted sense of morality, be they gay or straight.

    You are veering away from what this post is about though. It is not about personal opinions on homosexuality, or about "endorsing" any agenda. The Sikhs represented by the Sacramento Sikh Temple hold differing opinions on many issues, homosexuality being just one of them. But they all looked past this and saw the parallel in the injustice that affects all of us.

    "????? ???? ??? ????? ???? ???? ???? ?? ??? ??? ??? ???????? ?
    Some are Hindus and others are Muslims; someone is raafjee (follower of Ali);
    others are Imam-Shafi (adherents of the Prophet); Recognize the whole of human race as one. "

  9. kantay says:

    why not come to terms with the fact that progressive as a description of social and political action is a term for a movement in the United States in the 20th century with assumptions and origins inherently a part of the term and its use? Sarbat da Bhala is it is used here is a reference to a fairly unique and different set of ideas that may provide areas of congruence, disconguence, or simply areas of non-overlap. This is one instance where it might be useful to interrogate those areas rather than simply take the position of the "progressive" and watch (and hope?) for the "retrogressive" position to be articulated so it can be duly ridiculed and blasted.

  10. kantay says:

    or just go ahead and keep articulating a basically liberal, progressive position and add a tag-line reference to Sikhi. And then keep on re-experiencing the same dichotomous positioning and then I guess feel really indignant (and enthused?) at the neanderthal conservatism that comes out of the woodwork.

  11. kantay says:

    Wrong-headed on some accounts as he is, actually on one point Tejinder was not veering away from the idea you spoke about Navdeep. He was saying, yes support because like anyone else this person deserves support, protection, and love, which is amply in line with the quotation above you reference.

    The other position he stated seems like just straight "western" culture war stuff, with one side being progressive and another retrogressive. Why recreate that here? Whats the value added other than to bring that stuff into yet another forum? So now Sikhs can choose sides, as Sikhs, in the culture war? We can do that pretty much anywhere, right?

  12. Kantay,

    The entire Sikh religion is a progressive one. It was when it was first formed and it still is today. This site is a public forum and doesn't have any agenda other than a Sikh one. And yep. It is a progressive agenda in case the tagline of this site wasn't clear enough. If anyone has a counter-argument, or a post that shows the other side of an issue, nobody who writes for this blog is going to deny it be posted. The same with comments. A comment has to be pretty offensive for it to be removed from this site.

    Nobody is ridiculing anyone or "recreating" anything. Individuals are expressing their views. Tejinder
    made claims I thought were beyond ridiculous. And you are right, he didn't veer from the overall idea when he mentioned that one line. But he negated that with everything else he said. He essentially said that Sikhs and Sikh organizations shouldn't be promoting a gay agenda, which is not what was happening here.

  13. kantay says:

    What definition of progressive are you using? Is there any relation to the term you are using and the progressive movement in the United States historically? Do you think that the term and movement designated as "progressive" as used in the United States and in the liberal philosophic tradition have any bearing on the meaning and implications of a "progressive" social and political position?

    It seems like you are taking the word progressive as just a word with a fairly generic, positive meaning, something like progress to a society of justice, fairness, and equality, and moving past how this word, movement, and tradition may have meanings which can not be just transposed onto "sikhi". Anyway, excessive debating in sikhi, from my understanding, usually leads to wrongs ends, so I'll respectfully stop here. I too share a goal of a world more fair, just, and equal.

  14. kantay says:

    unless you don't want to debate, but explore our positions, in which case I'm all ears. Just from my end I feel like the earlier reply I recieved on another thread was borderline offensive. You do not tell a punjabi that you are purposefully not going to send him ladoos when his kid is born. That's just wrong. :-)

  15. kantay says:

    and yes, Tejinder was put on blast. Maybe in your opinion rightfully so, but it was blasted pretty harshly.

  16. Kantay,

    I don't have a separate definition of the word than anyone else. The concept of the word "progressive" is not something invented by the United States, nor is it such a complicated word that needs some sort of scholarly study to properly "transpose" it. The word "progressive" has been used to describe individuals or a movement whose aim is to challenge the status quo by employing or advocating more enlightened views, towards a progressive community. This applies to the Progressive Movement in the United States, the Age of Enlightenment also referred to as the Age of Voltaire in Europe, and the ideology within Sikhism, which was and still is way ahead of its time.

    I agree with you regarding excessive debating, particularly about inconsequential minutia, and am glad we can see eye to eye on the universal goal.

  17. kantay says:

    It's not inconsequential minutia in my opinion, any time you want a guest post on it, let me know. Otherwise, kind of a disappointing response. kind regards, fare-thee-well.

  18. Tajinder says:

    Hi All,
    Thanks Kantay or your support. in keeping this going as a blog posting where everyone's opinion should be taken into consideration. I don't really get offended very easily. I will be returning with a reply very soon just got busy with work.

  19. Tejinder says:

    Sorry to high Jack you post Sundari.

    See this is falls under

    "????? ???? ??? ????? ???? ???? ???? ?? ??? ??? ??? ???????? ?
    Some are Hindus and others are Muslims; someone is raafjee (follower of Ali);
    others are Imam-Shafi (adherents of the Prophet); Recognize the whole of human race as one.

  20. […] A friend sent me this photo yesterday from this past weekend’s annual LGBT Pride Parade in New York City, which was attended by about a million people. I’ve seen this Singh around NYC before. He happens to be one of the transit workers standing up to the NYC Transit Authority’s discriminatory “turban-branding” policy and now is also standing up for LGBT rights. Sikh solidarity seems to be in full swing lately. […]