This Week In Hate: August 25 — Hate Violence Post Charlottesville

Pre­pared for SAALT by Rad­ha Modi

As of August 22, 2017, there have been 150 hate inci­dents against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Arab, Mid­dle East­ern, and Asian. The new total sur­pass­es the pre­vi­ous year’s (marked as Novem­ber 2015 to Novem­ber 2016) total by 20 inci­dents, as shown in Fig­ure 1. With the sup­port from Don­ald Trump, after the events of Char­lottesville, VA, white suprema­cists, neo-Nazis, and white nation­al­ists feel encour­aged to con­tin­ue their vio­lence against immi­grants and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. For exam­ple, on August 20, 2017, a neigh­bor­hood in Alame­da, CA, was strewn with swasti­ka-adorned fly­ers. These fly­ers depict­ed a swasti­ka over the image of a Mus­lim woman in a hijab with the words “Help me kill you, stu­pid.” Don­ald Trump’s lack of unequiv­o­cal denounce­ment of white suprema­cists leads to wide­spread endan­ger­ment of many mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties.

While the pat­terns of the most com­mon type of hate inci­dents have not changed from pre­vi­ous reports, Fig­ure 2 illus­trates that these types of inci­dents are steadi­ly increas­ing week by week. In par­tic­u­lar, there are 53 inci­dents of phys­i­cal assaults against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Arab, Mid­dle East­ern, and Asian that have been report­ed over the last nine months. Just this past week, in Cleve­land, OH, an immi­grant man was phys­i­cal­ly attacked and expe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant head and face injuries after being vio­lent­ly knocked out. To learn more about this and oth­er report­ed hate inci­dents, refer to SAALT’s Acts of Hate Data­base.

Most hate inci­dents are being report­ed in the west­ern and east­ern regions of the U.S., mak­ing up about two-thirds of all report­ed hate vio­lence, as shown in Fig­ure 3. Addi­tion­al­ly, the high­est pro­por­tions of reports are from the states of Cal­i­for­nia and New York where there are greater num­bers of immi­grants and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or. In future reports, we will pro­vide an inter­ac­tive map of all hate inci­dents across the U.S., as doc­u­ment­ed in the Acts of Hate Data­base.

VICTORY: ACT for America Cancels Islamophobia Hate Rallies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al civ­il rights and racial jus­tice orga­ni­za­tion, believes ACT for Amer­i­ca’s deci­sion to can­cel its Sep­tem­ber 9 nation­wide series of anti-Mus­lim ral­lies is a vic­to­ry against white suprema­cy and Islam­o­pho­bia. ACT felt the need to sep­a­rate itself from the vio­lent white suprema­cist groups exposed in Char­lottesville last month, which is a tri­umph for South Asian, Mus­lim, Arab, Sikh, Hin­du, and Mid­dle East­ern com­mu­ni­ties nation­wide. Nev­er­the­less , we must not for­get that vio­lent tenets of white suprema­cy under­pin ACT for Amer­i­ca’s core mis­sion to autho­rize Islam­o­pho­bia through state sanc­tioned dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“White suprema­cy and Islam­o­pho­bia are incom­pat­i­ble with core Amer­i­can val­ues of jus­tice and equal­i­ty. ACT for Amer­i­ca’s deci­sion to can­cel its Islam­o­pho­bic ral­lies is a clear sig­nal that mes­sages of love are drown­ing out mes­sages of hate,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “This is in no small terms a vic­to­ry and is emblem­at­ic of the pow­er of stand­ing togeth­er, unit­ed from all faiths and back­grounds against big­otry and divi­sion.”

ACT, report­ed­ly the nation’s largest anti-Mus­lim hate group, was plan­ning over 67 ral­lies in 36 states under the theme “Amer­i­ca First” just two days before the anniver­sary of the events of Sep­tem­ber 11th, 2001 to tar­get and man­u­fac­ture hatred for Mus­lim Amer­i­cans at a time when vio­lence against Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties remains at a high pitch. ACT’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, has made her racism clear, stat­ing on numer­ous occa­sions, “Every prac­tic­ing Mus­lim is a rad­i­cal Mus­lim” and Mus­lims are a “nat­ur­al threat to civ­i­lized peo­ple of the world, par­tic­u­lar­ly West­ern soci­ety.” In a video mes­sage launch­ing the Sep­tem­ber 9 ral­lies, Ms. Gabriel exclaimed, “Let’s show our pres­i­dent that we are behind him in secur­ing our nation.”

The Pres­i­dent, like­wise, has made his racism clear, stat­ing on the record, “I think Islam hates us,” sup­port­ing his admin­is­tra­tion’s dogged pur­suit of a “Mus­lim Ban” among oth­er poli­cies, and essen­tial­ly val­i­dat­ing white suprema­cist vio­lence in his recent state­ments in response to Char­lottesville. The admin­is­tra­tion’s rhetoric, poli­cies, and white suprema­cist alle­giances have embold­ened hate vio­lence against our com­mu­ni­ties. Since the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump, SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed 141 inci­dents of vio­lence against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab Amer­i­can, already sur­pass­ing totals from the year lead­ing up to the elec­tion.

ACT already attempt­ed to fan the flames of Islam­o­pho­bia ear­li­er this sum­mer with lit­tle suc­cess. In June ACT held sim­i­lar Islam­o­pho­bic ral­lies in 30 cities across the nation under the theme “March Against Shari­ah.” This effort was a resound­ing fail­ure, and was met with strong resis­tance from civ­il rights groups who held alter­na­tive events that far out­num­bered the size and scope of ACT’s efforts. The White House was silent in response.

Despite the admin­is­tra­tion’s selec­tive silence, our com­mu­ni­ties con­tin­ue to decry and mobi­lize against Islam­o­pho­bia and white suprema­cy of any kind, and it’s evi­dent that groups such as ACT for Amer­i­ca are hear­ing our mes­sage loud and clear. It’s high time the admin­is­tra­tion and the Pres­i­dent, along with all elect­ed and appoint­ed offi­cials, con­demn Islam­o­pho­bia and white suprema­cy in the clear­est and strongest terms to ensure that our com­mu­ni­ties can live in a just and inclu­sive soci­ety for all Amer­i­cans.

CONTACT: Vivek Trive­di — vivek@saalt.org

Combating Islamophobia — SAALT welcomes the 2017–2018 Young Leaders Institute cohort

From July 19–21, SAALT wel­comed the 2017–2018 class of the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute (YLI) at a con­ven­ing in Sil­ver Spring, Mary­land. This year marks the sixth cohort of young adults SAALT has trained in lead­er­ship skills for social change on cam­pus and in our com­mu­ni­ties. The 2017–2018 cohort includes 16 out­stand­ing, diverse youth who have devel­oped cre­ative and thought­ful projects focused on this year’s theme of Com­bat­ing Islam­o­pho­bia in South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties and broad­ly through civic engage­ment.

Fol­low­ing a com­pet­i­tive appli­ca­tion process, YLI Fel­lows took part in a three-day train­ing work­shop where they learned the his­to­ry of immi­gra­tion and Islam­o­pho­bia in Amer­i­ca, built orga­niz­ing and direct action skills, con­nect­ed with activists and men­tors, and explored social change strate­gies around issues that affect South Asian and immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed States. Learn more about each Fel­low’s respec­tive YLI project here. See pic­tures from the con­ven­ing here.

SAALT is thank­ful to the train­ers who pro­vid­ed vital insights at the YLI con­ven­ing, includ­ing Dr. Maha Hilal (Insti­tute for Pol­i­cy Stud­ies); Ter­ri John­son (Cen­ter for New Com­mu­ni­ty); Noor Mir (D.C. Jus­tice for Mus­lims Coali­tion); and Darak­shan Raja (Wash­ing­ton Peace Cen­ter).

“I had an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence at YLI,” stat­ed Shilpa, one of SAALT’s YLI Fel­lows. “I met a great com­mu­ni­ty of South Asians com­mit­ted to social jus­tice and com­bat­ing var­i­ous forms of oppres­sion in the com­mu­ni­ty.  I also heard from amaz­ing orga­niz­ers who taught us about direct action, the his­to­ry of the war on ter­ror, and how we can move for­ward with­in our com­mu­ni­ties.  Going for­ward I want to car­ry all that knowl­edge with me back to George­town and build com­mu­ni­ties of South Asians com­mit­ted to social jus­tice on my cam­pus.”

Check out this video on Islam­o­pho­bia and how the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute empow­ers young peo­ple to com­bat it on cam­pus and in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Sania, anoth­er YLI Fel­low, not­ed, “The rea­son I took part in the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute is because when I’m old­er I want to be involved in com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ing. YLI was the per­fect first step in find­ing my way there.”

Rakin, a YLI Fel­low who will work to repeal House Bill 522, an anti-Sharia leg­is­la­tion in North Car­oli­na, stat­ed, “Through YLI, I was able to gain access to edu­ca­tion­al resources that helped con­tex­tu­al­ize what it means to be a South Asian in Amer­i­ca. YLI helped me under­stand the broad­er his­to­ry and dynam­ics of the South Asian Amer­i­can iden­ti­ty.”

SAALT would like to thank our sup­port­ers and donors who make the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute pos­si­ble, and to our YLI Fel­lows, who are the lead­ers of tomor­rowand who inspire us with their com­mit­ment to tak­ing on Islam­o­pho­bia on cam­pus­es and in com­mu­ni­ties.

Please con­sid­er mak­ing a gen­er­ous dona­tion to SAALT. Your help will ensure that the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute con­tin­ues to train tomor­row’s lead­ers today, for a more jus­tice and inclu­sive soci­ety for all Amer­i­cans.

In part­ner­ship,
The SAALT Team

SAALT Condemns White Supremacist Violence and Mourns the Loss of Life in Charlottesville, VA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al civ­il rights and racial jus­tice orga­ni­za­tion, con­demns this week­end’s white suprema­cist, neo-Nazi, KKK ral­lies in Char­lottesville, VA and mourns the loss of life in the ter­ror­ist attack that killed Heather Hey­er and injured 20 peace­ful anti-racist pro­tes­tors. The admin­is­tra­tion’s delayed, insuf­fi­cient, and tone deaf response to both the blood­shed and hate is a clear sign that the White House does not take the val­ues of free­dom, jus­tice, and equal­i­ty for all Amer­i­cans seri­ous­ly.

“In recent months, white suprema­cist hate groups have tar­get­ed South Asians, Mus­lims, Sikhs, Hin­dus, African Amer­i­cans, Jews, Lati­nos, and oth­er immi­grants and peo­ple of col­or in a ris­ing tide of vio­lence. This week­end’s trag­ic events in Char­lottesville, and the admin­is­tra­tion’s ane­mic response, is emblem­at­ic of the White House­’s ongo­ing cam­paign against com­mu­ni­ties of col­or,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “We demand a total and com­plete shut­down of white suprema­cy and insist the Pres­i­dent aban­dons the anti-immi­grant, anti-Mus­lim, and anti-Amer­i­can poli­cies and rhetoric that have val­i­dat­ed and embold­ened such vio­lence across the nation. We also demand that the white suprema­cist lead­er­ship in this admin­is­tra­tion be imme­di­ate­ly ter­mi­nat­ed.”

Since the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump, SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed 141 inci­dents of vio­lence against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab Amer­i­can, already sur­pass­ing totals from the year lead­ing up to the elec­tion. The admin­is­tra­tion’s anti-Mus­lim, anti-immi­grant rhetoric and poli­cies have embold­ened and encour­aged such vio­lence, includ­ing in May when two men in Port­land were stabbed to death while attempt­ing to stop a not­ed white suprema­cist from ver­bal­ly attack­ing a Mus­lim pas­sen­ger on a train.

Accord­ing to the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter (SPLC), white suprema­cist groups grew by over 54% from 2001 to 2014, with Klan groups grow­ing from 72 to 190 in num­ber between 2014 and 2015.

At Char­lottesville on Sat­ur­day, David Duke, the for­mer Impe­r­i­al Wiz­ard of the KKK, stat­ed, “This rep­re­sents a turn­ing point for the peo­ple of this coun­try. We are deter­mined to take our coun­try back. We are going to ful­fill the promis­es of Don­ald Trump. That’s what we believed and that’s why we vot­ed for Don­ald Trump.”

Our con­sti­tu­tion­al guar­an­tees of free­dom have been hijacked by white suprema­cist hate groups, with sup­port from the White House, and we must con­tin­ue to respond with a defin­i­tive and uni­fied push­back. SAALT stands ready with our part­ners and com­mu­ni­ties to con­tin­ue the resis­tance against divi­sion and dis­crim­i­na­tion until our com­mu­ni­ties are free to live in a just and inclu­sive soci­ety for all Amer­i­cans.

Con­tact:  Vivek Trive­di — vivek@saalt.org

This Week in Hate — August 11 — The Significance of Intersectionality in Hate Violence

Pre­pared for SAALT by Rad­ha Modi

 

 

There are now 141 doc­u­ment­ed hate inci­dents against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab since the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump (fig­ure 1). Of these 141 hate inci­dents, almost half (59 inci­dents) are ver­bal and writ­ten assaults, an addi­tion­al third (49 inci­dents) are phys­i­cal assaults, and about a quarter (33 inci­dents) are prop­er­ty dam­age (fig­ure 2). The total num­ber of ver­bal and writ­ten assaults post-elec­tion have already sur­passed the pre-elec­tion total. Prop­er­ty dam­age will soon sur­pass the pre-elec­tion total with the ongo­ing attacks on mosques. The total num­ber of phys­i­cal assaults is steadi­ly increas­ing.  About half of the phys­i­cal assaults are against Mus­lim and immi­grant women (fig­ure 2).

Women by far are the most com­mon tar­get of hate inci­dents. Thirty-three percent of the 141 doc­u­ment­ed hate inci­dents are against women who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab (fig­ure 3). Women wear­ing hijabs are, in par­tic­u­lar, vul­ner­a­ble to hate vio­lence. Hate vio­lence towards women under­scores the role of inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty and the need for iden­ti­fy­ing these inter­sec­tions in doc­u­ment­ing hate. The com­bi­na­tion of gen­der, reli­gious attire, skin col­or, accent, and oth­er fac­tors all play a part in how women are per­ceived and tar­get­ed in dai­ly life. For instance, Noor Tagouri, a Mus­lim Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist, who wears a hijab, was told to “kill her­self” by a fel­low pas­sen­ger as she board­ed a domes­tic flight in the US[1]. This form of rou­tine dehu­man­iza­tion is not only root­ed in Islam­o­pho­bia but also misog­y­ny, xeno­pho­bia, and racism. While men seem less vul­ner­a­ble, they are also a com­mon tar­get post-elec­tion. Eighteen percent of hate inci­dents are against men who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab (fig­ure 3). For men, as well, inter­sec­tions of mul­ti­ple fac­tors con­tribute to how they are per­ceived and treat­ed by oth­ers. Recent­ly, Farid el-Bagh­da­di, a brown-skinned food truck ven­dor sell­ing Mid­dle East­ern sand­wich­es, was pelt­ed with eggs mul­ti­ple times in Queens, New York. One of the eggs had a note attached to it that read: “F**k Arabs and F**k Mus­lims”. The per­pe­tra­tors used Farid el-Baghdadi’s skin col­or, occu­pa­tion, and name to pro­file and tar­get him.

The third major tar­get of hate inci­dents is young peo­ple. Twenty-one percent of hate inci­dents involved stu­dents and youth. Inci­dents not only occur on the streets from strangers but also in schools where they are vul­ner­a­ble to bul­ly­ing. Anoth­er com­mon tar­get is mosques or Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tions mak­ing up about a fifth of hate inci­dents. On aver­age, about 3 to 4 mosques or Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tions are tar­get­ed month­ly with some mosques hav­ing mul­ti­ple attacks this year. Just this past week, Dar Al-Farooq Islam­ic Cen­ter in Bloom­ing­ton, Min­neso­ta was bombed by unknown assailants. This is the sec­ond time in the last 30 days that a Min­neso­ta mosque has been tar­get­ed. Despite the inces­sant vio­lence against Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has yet to release a state­ment denounc­ing the bomb­ing[2] and thus indi­rect­ly sanc­tion­ing the vio­lence against mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties.

Remember Oak Creek — They Still Stood Strong

- Sus Ri Kaal — Salaam Alaaaikum — Namaste -

When I was 8 years old, my Papa died before my eyes. I was so con­fused why he left me. I used to ask every Sar­dar­ji (tur­ban wear­ing reli­gious elder) I walked past if they knew my Papa, if he told them any jokes, or if he men­tioned me. The image of a Sar­dar­ji is one of love, ser­vice, and com­pas­sion.

Every day that has passed since 9/11, I feel as though I am bare­ly hold­ing onto the many parts of my iden­ti­ty, my com­mu­ni­ty.. and with every sto­ry on social media of an uncle being beat­en up or killed — of a store being van­dal­ized or mosques being burnt — I feel like those same parts are slip­ping from my shak­ing grasp. The con­stant vic­ar­i­ous trau­ma from the media and its ongo­ing forms of PTSD shake me.

One more part of me, one more piece of safe­ty slips from me with every news update, pray­ing it is not tar­get­ing a Sikh or Mus­lim. With every 9/11 remem­brance over the past 16 years reminds me of Bal­bir Singh being shot to death after he was look­ing to buy flags for his store. He was an immi­grant who want­ed a bet­ter life for his fam­i­ly, work­ing hard with­in the Amer­i­can Dream only to be shot cold in a busi­ness he start­ed from noth­ing just days after 9/11. I remem­ber the fear that day, for us to quick­ly buy any flag stick­er, stand, cloth and adorn it on our res­i­dence and vehi­cles. It was ter­ri­fy­ing how quick­ly this fear swept across the nation. Was his flag not up fast enough? We had to PROVE we are Amer­i­can, we had to LABEL our­selves as Amer­i­can, why were we ever put in that sit­u­a­tion?

This past week­end I flew out to Oak Creek on a red eye. I was not expect­ing to go, but I felt I had to, as a Sar­dar­ji ka beta (daugh­ter of a tur­ban wear­ing reli­gious elder). I had to. At 8am I checked into the hotel, loaded my back­pack up with a sec­ond change of clothes and a hood­ie not know­ing what to expect with Mid­west weath­er. I got into the Uber with a pun­jabi uncle who shared how close he was to the peo­ple who died. We talked about my father, about how hard it is to be brown in Amer­i­ca — but he remind­ed me that the love of the com­mu­ni­ty is what will get us through all the hard times. I went into the tem­ple, per­formed muth­na taak­naa (respect­ful prayer) and ate the par­shaad (holy sweets) look­ing at this small prayer hall with eccen­tric pink and gold, full of love. I found myself in tears, this was where peo­ple had died, where Papas were last seen, where lives had trans­formed for­ev­er. There was blood on this car­pet once. I saw the bul­let hole in the door they had left as a reminder to peo­ple of their per­se­ver­ance.

I walked into the lun­gar hall (com­mu­nal food hall) and saw all the amaz­ing aun­ties prep­ping the free food for the 5K guests tomor­row and the week­end of 48 hour prayer. They were laugh­ing, smil­ing and mak­ing sure I had one of every­thing they made. They did not know me, but they had so much care for me. I sat down next to a younger girl who was per­son­al­ly affect­ed by the death of her father and we talked about how los­ing your father can trans­form your life. I shared the mile­stones I had that I found dif­fer­ent ways to memo­ri­al­ize my Papa — my high school grad­u­a­tion, my col­lege grad­u­a­tion, and soon how I will hon­or him when I mar­ry Naseer. I told her how strong she was to have gone through some­thing so hard and still be able to even step foot into the Gur­d­wara and do hours of char­i­ty work here, but told her she nev­er need­ed to be put in a sit­u­a­tion to need to per­se­vere. So many miles apart and we were con­nect­ed through loss. I began talk­ing to all of the peo­ple in the Gur­d­wara, all the aun­ties, the uncles — labored for hours in the kitchen help­ing them do seva, wiped the floors, threw the trash — and drank bot­tom­less chai.

Through­out the week­end I could feel out­siders ask­ing details about where the aun­ties and chil­dren were when their hus­band, wife, moth­er and father died, did they die in front of them, how was the funer­al, was their blood on the car­pet? My heart sank, I felt the need to pro­tect these peo­ple who I just met hours ago. The memo­r­i­al must have been so hard on them, and then with the ques­tions it must have been so much hard­er. Peo­ple want to know the exot­ic inves­tiga­tive side of Oak Creek.

How­ev­er, we should ask them about their com­mu­ni­ty, ask them how non-Sikhs sup­port­ed them, how it was going back inside the tem­ple, how did they get the courage to step back in — what were their favorite mem­o­ries of their father and moth­ers? What is their favorite pho­to? If they could say some­thing to them now, what would they say?

I took a step back and I real­ized I am a trau­ma, grief and loss ther­a­pist — and not every­one responds that way. I don’t want Oak Creek to be seen as a tragedy, it is a sto­ry of not just resilience but per­se­ver­ance, that when they lost their entire sense of safe­ty, they still stood strong and found the courage to con­tin­ue lead­ing the lives they hoped for.

When I was leav­ing for my flight, all of the aun­ties came and hugged me and prayed I had a safe jour­ney. They loaded me up with six bags of Samosas, a con­tain­er of snacks, two bags of bur­fee, and chips. There is so much love in Oak Creek, they need to be remem­bered for how com­pas­sion­ate­ly the com­mu­ni­ty came togeth­er.. of how Amer­i­ca should act — not remem­ber it as a scene of a crime.

It was hard to cap­ture the love and con­nec­tion I felt amidst the mourn­ing of their loved ones, so felt it was only appro­pri­ate to cre­ate a video to help you enter the week­end with me.

Since 9/11 — every Sikh uncle I pass, I take a moment and make a duaa for them:

“May Rab pro­tect them from the injus­tices of the world”
May they get home safe­ly with­out being killed.
May Rab give them courage when the micro aggres­sions and ver­bal assault is too hard.
May some­one not use their ruby tur­ban as a trig­ger for pro­tect­ing Amer­i­ca.
May their chil­dren nev­er have to have a day with­out their Papa.”

Ameen.

Rab­hi is a trau­ma ther­a­pist, activist, ethno­graph­ic researcher, and for­mer YLI fel­low. As a fel­low, Rab­hi led the largest art as activism event in UCLA’s his­to­ry for domes­tic vio­lence and bul­ly­ing aware­ness. With pub­li­ca­tions in three dif­fer­ent out­lets, as a trau­ma ther­a­pist, she has worked with grief and trau­ma for 8 years now. As an ethno­graph­ic researcher at UCLA and Pep­per­dine, she led the way for research on the pow­er of sto­ry­telling for Sept 11th Vic­ar­i­ous Trau­ma — PTSD Islam­o­pho­bia sur­vivors — fur­ther decon­struct­ing the Medi­a’s War on Islam. Her research find­ings indi­cate the pow­er of shared sto­ry­telling sup­ports nor­mal­iza­tion and thus allows for a huge shift in the com­pas­sion and heal­ing of com­mu­ni­ties. Rab­hi cur­rent­ly works at CAIR-LA fur­ther advo­cat­ing the basic human rights for her AMEMSA sis­ters and broth­ers.

This Week In Hate — August 4 — The Complexity of Documenting Hate

Pre­pared for SAALT by Rad­ha Modi

SAALT, as well as oth­er nation­al advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions, are tak­ing the lead in col­lect­ing and doc­u­ment­ing hate inci­dents across com­mu­ni­ties as fed­er­al agen­cies fall short on this front. Orga­ni­za­tions use news clip­pings as a com­mon way to col­lect and doc­u­ment hate inci­dents. Often hate inci­dents do not make it to the news cycle in real time, and orga­ni­za­tions only learn about some inci­dents weeks to months lat­er. In addi­tion, the report­ing of hate inci­dents is a dynam­ic process with shifts in the safe­ty, ease, and struc­tur­al access around report­ing for com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. Fur­ther, the defin­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing of what con­sti­tutes a hate inci­dent is also vari­able across orga­ni­za­tions and media out­lets. Con­sid­er­ing all of these com­plex issues, the num­ber of hate inci­dents against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab are in flux.

Recent­ly, SAALT dis­cov­ered past inci­dents that were not orig­i­nal­ly doc­u­ment­ed in the organization’s data­base. These missed inci­dents have now been cat­a­loged in an effort to bring our com­mu­ni­ties the most up-to-date and accu­rate num­bers in the dynam­ic land­scape of doc­u­ment­ing hate.

Per­sis­tent Pat­terns of Hate

It is impor­tant to note that while the num­bers have changed from our pre­vi­ous reports, the over­all pat­terns have remained the same. As shown in Fig­ure 1, the total num­ber of doc­u­ment­ed hate inci­dents post-elec­tion, tal­ly­ing at 135, has sur­passed the total num­ber of hate inci­dents of 130 that occurred dur­ing the year pri­or to the elec­tion (see below for clar­i­fi­ca­tion).

Anoth­er pat­tern that has remained con­sis­tent is the preva­lence of ver­bal and writ­ten assaults against com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. Fig­ure 2 illus­trates that the total num­ber of ver­bal and writ­ten assaults is almost dou­ble that of the pre­vi­ous year before the elec­tion (57 post-elec­tion ver­bal hate inci­dents com­pared to 29 pre-elec­tion ver­bal hate inci­dents). The sanc­tion­ing of hate rhetoric from gov­ern­ment offi­cials local­ly and fed­er­al­ly as well as the pass­ing of anti-Mus­lim and anti-immi­grant leg­is­la­tion is com­men­su­rate with the increased nor­mal­iza­tion of ver­bal abuse of com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers on the streets. On July 27, 2017, three Soma­li Mus­lim women were harassed by a white woman at a local Wal­mart near Far­go, North Dako­ta. The white woman screamed to the women that “Mus­lims were going to hell” and “We’re going to kill ya.” Threats such as these are becom­ing more com­mon­place as phys­i­cal assaults and prop­er­ty dam­age inci­dents also involve ver­bal or writ­ten hate filled harass­ment.

In addi­tion, as we remem­ber the five year anniver­sary of the mas­sacre at Oak Creek this week, the vio­lence against the Sikh com­mu­ni­ty con­tin­ues with the increased anti-immi­grant and anti-Mus­lim rhetoric under the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. This past week the body of 68-year-old Sikh man, Sub­ag Singh, was found with signs of trau­ma in an irri­ga­tion canal in Fres­no, Cal­i­for­nia. Sub­ag Singh went miss­ing on July 23, 2017, after leav­ing his house for a morn­ing walk. While local police have yet to assign the mur­der of Sub­ag Singh as a hate crime, the threat of hate vio­lence against local Sikh com­mu­ni­ties remains across the US.

The 130 total from the pre-election year in the current database does not match the 140 total hate incidents covering the some of the same time period in our Power, Pain, and Potential report. Two issues led to this discrepancy. First, the 140 total in the Power, Pain, and Potential report also documented the uptick in hate incidents one week post-election.The 130 pre-election number in our current database does not include the first week following the election. Second, a handful of incidents categorized as hate incidents are now categorized as hate rhetoric in the current database. As SAALT standardizes the distinction between hate rhetoric and hate incident, the database is consequently updated and reflects these changes.

 

Remember Oak Creek: Organizing through Grief and Pain

By Deepa Iyer

I vis­it­ed Oak Creek, Wis­con­sin, for the first time in August of 2012 to attend the memo­r­i­al ser­vice for the vic­tims of the mas­sacre at the Sikh Tem­ple of Wis­con­sin. At the time, I was the direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), and I trav­eled to Oak Creek to make a per­son­al com­mit­ment that our orga­ni­za­tion would stand in sup­port of rapid response efforts on the ground and advo­ca­cy around end­ing hate vio­lence at the nation­al lev­el. I joined hun­dreds of peo­ple to remem­ber and hon­or the lives of Suveg Singh Khat­tra, Sat­want Singh Kale­ka, Ran­jit Singh, Sita Singh, Paramjit Kaur, and Prakash Singh, and to send our sup­port to Baba Pun­jab Singh who was severe­ly wound­ed and who still remains in a coma.

Since that day in 2012, I have been back to Oak Creek many times thanks to the open­ness of the com­mu­ni­ty there. They have wel­comed me — a com­plete stranger and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a nation­al orga­ni­za­tion (both jus­ti­fi­able rea­sons for wari­ness) — into their town and their gur­d­wara dur­ing the anniver­saries every August and in between.  Our con­ver­sa­tions in homes, over lan­gar at the gur­d­wara, and on trips to the air­port, have helped me to under­stand how this com­mu­ni­ty of sur­vivors and first respon­ders mus­tered the courage to respond to hate vio­lence. They chan­neled and processed their grief and pain into com­mu­ni­ty build­ing. Five years lat­er, they con­tin­ue to build bridges, to care for sur­vivors left behind, and to express sol­i­dar­i­ty with oth­er vic­tims of vio­lence around the nation.

As I reflect on Oak Creek on this five-year anniver­sary, so many feel­ings and images come to mind.

I remem­ber the peo­ple we lost. I didn’t know Paramjit Kaur but Kamal, her son, has shared many sto­ries about her. Once, Kamal recount­ed a sto­ry about his mother’s efforts to find a job. “She used to be a house­wife for a few years after we moved here because she had a prob­lem with Eng­lish,” he told me. “It’s fun­ny how she got the job because she had to do a phone inter­view. She was afraid they would call while we were in school and she wouldn’t under­stand what they were say­ing. So it hap­pened to be that the day she got the call, I was home.… She put it on speak­er and they kept ask­ing her ques­tions and I kept trans­lat­ing for her.” With Kamal’s assis­tance, Paramjit passed the inter­view hand­i­ly and start­ed her job as an inspec­tor at the med­ical fac­to­ry. That is part of Paramjit’s sto­ry – an immi­grant moth­er in a work­ing class com­mu­ni­ty who strug­gled with Eng­lish but who was deter­mined to care for her sons.

My reflec­tions on Oak Creek five years lat­er are also ground­ed in the phys­i­cal pres­ence of the Sikh Tem­ple of Wis­con­sin. There is the bul­let hole that has been pre­served in one of the doors lead­ing to the prayer hall. There is the con­ver­sa­tion that I had with a man days after the mas­sacre who told me that he and sev­er­al oth­ers were car­ry­ing their own guns now to pro­tect the gur­d­wara. There is the pres­ence of secu­ri­ty cam­eras and bul­let-proof win­dows in the phys­i­cal struc­ture.

The gur­d­wara stands as a reminder that South Asian places of wor­ship – envi­sioned, fund­ed, and sup­port­ed by our par­ents, uncles and aun­ties – are now vul­ner­a­ble to vio­lence and harm. It stands as a mark­er of the impact of white suprema­cy on South Asians in Amer­i­ca, much like how the 16th Street Bap­tist Church and the Moth­er Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Car­oli­na rep­re­sent the effects of anti-Black racism.  It stands as a trib­ute to the Sikh val­ue of chard­hi kala — resilience and opti­mism in the face of adver­si­ty.

Reflect­ing on Oak Creek also means learn­ing from the com­mu­ni­ty of sur­vivors and first respon­ders. In the months after the mas­sacre, Harpreet Sai­ni tes­ti­fied in Con­gress about his mother’s hopes. He said: “[A]s a hard-work­ing immi­grant, she had to work long hours to feed her fam­i­ly, to get her sons edu­cat­ed, and help us achieve our Amer­i­can dreams. This was more impor­tant to her than any­thing else… But now she is gone. Because of a man who hat­ed her because she wasn’t his col­or? His reli­gion?” His tes­ti­mo­ny and the efforts of orga­ni­za­tions in Oak Creek and beyond led to the FBI’s deci­sion to add new cat­e­gories, includ­ing Sikh and Hin­du, to iden­ti­fy vic­tims of hate crimes.

Pardeep Kale­ka who lost his father began an orga­ni­za­tion called Serve 2 Unite that runs pro­grams about inclu­sion. Man­deep Kaur has worked with a group of vol­un­teers includ­ing Navi Gill, Rahul Dubey and many oth­ers to orga­nize a 6K walk/run com­mem­o­ra­tion event each year to bring the com­mu­ni­ty togeth­er, hon­or the vic­tims, and pro­vide stu­dent schol­ar­ships. Com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers con­tin­ue to take care of the younger chil­dren who lost par­ents in the mas­sacre. The may­or of Oak Creek at the time of the mas­sacre, Steve Scaf­fi­di, has writ­ten a book with tips on how cities can pre­pare for and respond to hate vio­lence. And in the after­math of the mur­der of nine peo­ple at the AME “Moth­er Emanuel” Church in Charleston, South Car­oli­na in 2015, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers orga­nized a sol­i­dar­i­ty event at the gur­d­wara.

This week­end, let us remem­ber Oak Creek and all that it stands for, five years lat­er. At the same time, let’s recom­mit our­selves to jus­tice because hate vio­lence con­tin­ues to affect South Asians and oth­er com­mu­ni­ties. Here are some ways you can get involved:

*This week­end, vis­it your local gur­d­wara to be in com­mu­ni­ty, and send a dona­tion to sup­port the Chard­hi Kala 6K in Oak Creek
*Hold a dis­cus­sion on your cam­pus or your place of wor­ship about hate vio­lence tar­get­ing peo­ple of col­or, faith-based com­mu­ni­ties, queer and trans com­mu­ni­ties, and immi­grants
*Report and doc­u­ment hate and big­otry
*Work with your own place of wor­ship to build pre­ven­ta­tive and rapid response plans to deal with hate vio­lence
*Write a let­ter to the edi­tor of your local news­pa­per about the impor­tance of build­ing wel­com­ing and inclu­sive com­mu­ni­ties for com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, immi­grants and refugees
*Raise your voice against the cur­rent cli­mate of hate that leads to bans, walls, and raids

Deepa Iyer is the for­mer exec­u­tive direc­tor of SAALT. Her book, We Too Sing Amer­i­ca: South Asian, Arab, Mus­lim and Sikh Immi­grants Shape Our Mul­tira­cial Future, con­tains a chap­ter on the Oak Creek com­mu­ni­ty. Learn more about Deepa’s work at www.deepaiyer.com and @dviyer on Twit­ter.

SAALT vehemently opposes updated RAISE Act that cracks down on legal immigration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al civ­il rights and racial jus­tice orga­ni­za­tion, vehe­ment­ly oppos­es today’s updat­ed bill intro­duced by Sen­a­tors Tom Cot­ton (R‑AR) and David Per­due (R‑GA) that aims to crack­down on legal immi­gra­tion.  The bill, named the Reform­ing Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion for Strong Employ­ment (RAISE) Act, would sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the num­ber of immi­grants who can obtain green cards and oth­er visas and would cut the num­ber of legal immi­grants allowed in the Unit­ed States by 40% in the first year and by 50% over a decade.

First intro­duced in April, today’s updat­ed ver­sion of the RAISE Act would elim­i­nate pref­er­ences for extend­ed fam­i­ly mem­bers sim­i­lar to the “Mus­lim ban”, elim­i­nate the diver­si­ty visa lot­tery, lim­it refugees offered per­ma­nent res­i­den­cy to 50,000 per year, and insti­tute a “skills-based points” mer­it sys­tem.

“Amer­i­ca is a nation of val­ues, found­ed on an idea that all peo­ple are cre­at­ed equal. Poli­cies that break fam­i­lies apart and cre­ate false divi­sions among immi­grants based on flawed notions of mer­i­toc­ra­cy do not live up to these val­ues. Today’s revised RAISE Act, backed heav­i­ly by the White House, is part of an undis­guised and coor­di­nat­ed attack on immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties across the spec­trum,” stat­ed Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran, Direc­tor of Nation­al Pol­i­cy and Advo­ca­cy at SAALT. “The dra­con­ian use of leg­is­la­tion and exec­u­tive orders to crim­i­nal­ize and mar­gin­al­ize immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties reveals the inher­ent xeno­pho­bia of this admin­is­tra­tion. From bans to walls to raids to this cur­rent focus on slash­ing green card num­bers, there is a con­cert­ed effort to purge immi­grants from our nation. We must resist all efforts to dimin­ish immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties and divide Amer­i­can-born and immi­grant work­ers.”

Num­ber­ing over 4.3 mil­lion, South Asians are the fastest grow­ing demo­graph­ic group in the Unit­ed States, with the major­i­ty of our com­mu­ni­ties for­eign born. The RAISE Act will make reunit­ing fam­i­lies a drain­ing if not impos­si­ble task for South Asian immi­grants who already strug­gle under a woe­ful­ly out­dat­ed immi­gra­tion sys­tem that makes fam­i­ly reuni­fi­ca­tion a bur­den­some task.

We implore Con­gress to sup­port all forms of immi­gra­tion, wel­come refugees, pro­mote sanc­tu­ary cities, pass the DREAM Act, and adopt an accu­rate and long view of our coun­try’s his­to­ry that sees immi­grants as a fun­da­men­tal aspect of Amer­i­can life.

Con­tact:  Vivek Trive­di — vivek@saalt.org

Remember Oak Creek — Sikhs are here to stay

By Jo Kaur

For many of our com­mu­ni­ties, liv­ing in Amer­i­ca is more dan­ger­ous today than it was in 2012. This is a solemn fact that we must con­tend with as we com­mem­o­rate the five-year anniver­sary of the Oak Creek mass shoot­ing. Not only is dis­crim­i­na­tion ris­ing across the coun­try, but the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is no longer a reli­able part­ner in enforc­ing civ­il rights laws, reduc­ing hate vio­lence, and/or tar­get­ing domes­tic ter­ror­ism.

The rise of Don­ald Trump and the fuel­ing of white nation­al­ism across the nation has placed our fam­i­lies in more dan­ger. The seeds of hatred that grew in the heart of the Oak Creek killer, who iden­ti­fied with white suprema­cist and neo-Nazi ide­olo­gies, are con­nect­ed to the divi­sive­ness and rise of hate groups that we see today. It’s still shock­ing to accept that a fel­low Amer­i­can was hate­ful enough to march into a Sikh gur­d­wara — on a peace­ful Sun­day morn­ing — with the sin­gu­lar pur­pose of killing as many moth­ers, fathers, and grand­fa­thers that he could find. Our aun­ties, uncles, our baba jis.

Make no mis­take – Sikhs were tar­get­ed and killed because of our brown skin, our reli­gious head­wear, and most notably the grow­ing and vir­u­lent forms of insti­tu­tion­al racism that have defined Amer­i­ca. The con­stant dehu­man­iza­tion of brown-skinned peo­ple with reli­gious head­wear, the degra­da­tion of actu­al or per­ceived Mus­lims by our politi­cians, the media, and Amer­i­can soci­ety at large has con­tributed to the onslaught of hate vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion that occurred in Oak Creek and that we see unfold in the Trump era.

What can indi­vid­u­als do? We should look toward the Oak Creek com­mu­ni­ty. I will nev­er for­get a con­ver­sa­tion that I had with an Oak Creek police offi­cer after the shoot­ing. He told me that when the Oak Creek gur­d­wara first opened its doors, their non-Sikh neigh­bors were a lit­tle wary. Who were these brown peo­ple with tur­bans and col­or­ful out­fits? Where were they from? What was their deal? Stereo­types, with­out con­ver­sa­tion or con­nec­tion, were made. The offi­cer felt ashamed that it took a hor­rif­ic act of domes­tic ter­ror­ism to con­nect with such a beau­ti­ful com­mu­ni­ty. Now he vis­its the gur­d­wara week­ly to have cha (tea) with his Sikh neigh­bors. Indeed, the rela­tion­ship between Sikhs and non-Sikhs in Oak Creek has been an inspir­ing, heart­warm­ing sto­ry of neigh­bor­ly love. But the offi­cer is right – it shouldn’t take mass tragedies for us to con­nect with our neigh­bors who may look dif­fer­ent from us.

If some­one does­n’t know your “deal,” it’s much eas­i­er to dehu­man­ize you and your peo­ple, make harm­ful stereo­types and assump­tions, and cast you as a vil­lain and ene­my of the state. But it’s not the sole respon­si­bil­i­ty of Sikhs or demo­nized com­mu­ni­ties to make you com­fort­able with us and to help you rec­og­nize our human­i­ty. To assuage your con­cerns. The heavy lift­ing of aware­ness work must be shared by our allies and part­ners.

Whether we like it or not, Amer­i­ca is a plu­ral­is­tic, mul­ti­cul­tur­al soci­ety. Peo­ple of all races, reli­gions, nation­al­i­ties and back­grounds live here. That’s a beau­ti­ful thing. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, our politi­cians gov­ern as if only the white non-His­pan­ic major­i­ty mat­ters. It is indeed rare to find rep­re­sen­ta­tion at fed­er­al, state, or local lev­els invest­ed in gov­ern­ing all peo­ple and con­sid­er­ing how state­ments and poli­cies impact our var­ied inter­ests. With­out lead­ers mak­ing active and reg­u­lar efforts to infuse anti-racism and anti-Islam­o­pho­bia edu­ca­tion and poli­cies into our nation­al con­ver­sa­tion and pol­i­tics, big­otry will con­tin­ue to spi­ral out of con­trol.

While the Trump admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to per­pet­u­ate its dai­ly agen­da of mak­ing Amer­i­ca unsafe and unwel­come for reli­gious minori­ties, peo­ple of col­or, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, and LGBT folks, the seeds of hatred in Amer­i­ca con­tin­ue to grow and more peo­ple will become embold­ened to com­mit hate vio­lence. As for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore recent­ly shared with media out­lets, the work to reduce cli­mate change will go on with or with­out Pres­i­dent Trump, and regard­less of our with­draw­al from the Paris Agree­ment. And so too must the work to end hate vio­lence and big­otry in our soci­ety.

It’s up to us now. Togeth­er, we have accom­plished quite a bit since Jan­u­ary and we must con­tin­ue to fire up the ener­gy and wis­dom that we need for the long-term fight. As we com­mem­o­rate Oak Creek, let us be hum­ble; let us reflect and think about the voic­es we are leav­ing out of the con­ver­sa­tion. Let us reflect and think about the voic­es we need at the table and/or build a larg­er table. Let us con­tin­ue to see the best in oth­ers and to show up for our fel­low com­mu­ni­ties, whether to com­bat hate vio­lence or police bru­tal­i­ty. It’s not easy work, but the pur­suit of love and jus­tice nev­er has been and nev­er will be.

We owe our best ener­gy, love and com­mit­ment to the beau­ti­ful souls that we lost that day on August 5, 2012: Paramjit Kaur Sai­ni, Suveg Singh Khat­tra, Ran­jit Singh, Kat­want Singh Kale­ka, Prakash Singh, and Sita Singh. We owe our fiercest ener­gy and our pas­sion to Baba Pun­jab Singh, who remains par­a­lyzed fol­low­ing the shoot­ing and can com­mu­ni­cate only by blink­ing his eyes.  The Oak Creek Sikh com­mu­ni­ty is resilient and pow­er­ful and a bea­con of light for all of us. The glob­al Sikh com­mu­ni­ty – the descen­dants of Guru Nanak Ji, of Guru Gob­ind Singh Ji, con­tin­ue to wear our arti­cles of faith with humil­i­ty and to live out our pur­pose – to see the divin­i­ty of all, to see our ene­my as our sister/brother, to fight oppres­sion and demand uni­ver­sal equal­i­ty for all peo­ple. As Sapreet Kaur, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Sikh Coali­tion said of the Sikh com­mu­ni­ty, “Amer­i­ca is our home, and we are here to stay.”

Sikhs are here to stay, and ready to play an active role in the sto­ry, direc­tion and des­tiny of Amer­i­ca.

Gurjot “Jo” Kaur is a civ­il rights attor­ney based in New York City. Jo worked as a Senior Staff Attor­ney at the Sikh Coali­tion, the largest Sikh civ­il rights orga­ni­za­tion in the U.S. and pro­vid­ed legal and advo­ca­cy sup­port to Oak Creek sur­vivors and their fam­i­lies. Fol­low­ing the shoot­ing, Jo also rep­re­sent­ed Harpreet Singh Sai­ni, the first Sikh Amer­i­can to tes­ti­fy before the U.S. Sen­ate in a hear­ing on hate crimes and domes­tic extrem­ism.