‘We are Sikhs’ Campaign Aims to Spread Awareness About Community in US
About 60 per cent of Americans admitted that they knew nothing about the community, according to National Sikh Campaign.
A 39-year-old Sikh was shot at earlier this year by a partially masked gunman, who asked him to “go back to your own country” in Kent, Washington. In April, a Sikh cab driver was assaulted and his turban was taken off by four drunken passengers in an incident that is believed to be a hate crime incident.
Incidents of hate crimes and racism are nothing new for the Sikh community in the United States, which first faced the issue after 9/11. Since then, Sikh-Americans have seen an increase in hate crimes against them because their long beards and turbans make them more visible than other minority groups, and also makes them prone to being recognised as Muslim hardliners.
Sikh-American activists have raised their voice against the intolerant climate spreading in the US. One such non-profit organisation, National Sikh Campaign (NSC), launched a nationwide million-dollar campaign called ‘We are Sikhs’ in April to spread awareness about the minority community. Four months later, the group is still going strong to spread the message about their faith.
The organisers believe that it’s the unawareness about Sikhs in America that is dangerous. They want to tell Americans what turban or the kirpan stands for, and bring them closer to understanding the Sikh faith.
Over 65 per cent of Americans are ignorant about Sikhism and they aim to use this initiative to spread awareness about the religion and Sikh-Americans, according to the NSC.
Rajwant Singh, the co-founder and senior advisor of the National Sikh Campaign, said that the initiative is a “national effort to help inform our fellow Americans about who we are and why we are proud to wear the turban, a symbol of our community’s commitment to equality and serving others,” PTI had reported.
Using marketing, public relations and social media, the campaign aims to highlight the Sikh-American community’s increasing presence in national and local news outlets, online platforms and neighbourhoods.
“Sikh-Americans are pillars of their communities in every corner of our nation and we must work to proactively meet and connect with our neighbours,” Singh said.
There exists a “collective misunderstanding” of what the turban means in the US, because of which the community has been the target of discrimination and hate crimes, especially since the 9/11 terror attacks, the organisation said.
“Sikh values are American values, and Sikh-Americans have been making positive and significant contributions to American life for more than a century. We run local businesses and sing our national anthem with pride,” Gurwin Singh Ahuja, the co- founder and executive director of the NSC, said.
The American dream is a fundamental part of the Sikh community’s identity in America and they “deeply in the freedom to pursue one’s own success through hard work,” Ahuja added.
“We have brought a very scientific and targeted messaging element to the campaign. Our focus is to build a proactive and positive message and try to educate and inform Americans about the positive contributions the Sikhs have been making in America,” Singh said.
With this massive campaign, NSC hopes to create awareness about the Sikh faith and promote inclusivity and positive attitude towards the minority community in US.