As a Sikh, I made it a routine to stay up to date on what was going on within the community.Most stories made me proud, some made me very upset, like the killing of S.Balbir Singh Sodhiand attacks on elderly Sikhs in New York post 9/11, bullying of Sikh children schools and much more. I always had a great admiration for the United States, and used to wonder why people in such a civilized society were targeting people of a certain appearance to vent out their anger.
A few years ago, I came to the states to pursue a Masters in Law degree. UNITED SIKHS motto of Recognize The Human Race As One was enough to encourage me to take my Staff Attorney position with them. This armed me with what I needed to pursue my goal of fighting for Sikh Rights!
Our sister chapters fought for the same rights globally which fueled my intentions to make the Sikh nation, a nation without walls more acceptable to the world. Just this year, while India fought for Sikh students right to wear their turban to a Catholic school, France won their 3rd turban case at the United Nations and Australia successfully advocated for a newly initiated Sikh boy to be allowed to wear all his Kakaars at his primary school, all this amongst our other achievements.
Thus I embarked on this journey and hoping that you are with me...
Two courtroom policy victories- I got to lead some great public policy victories, which will ensure that Sikhs can freely wear the dastaar in courtrooms, and in other public offices, and will not be denied service for doing so. I had read in the past about the state of Mississippi's troubled past with respect to granting civil rights and liberties to African Americans. "Mississippi Burning" was a movie which left me in tears. "Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story" was another powerful movie I watched, which depicted the arduous struggle of the African American. I had never thought that one day in the future, I will get an opportunity to create an impact in this state.
A new Harassment and Non-Discrimination policy was recently put into place in Pike County, Mississippi, and is applicable to all county employees. The policy forbids all employees in public offices from discriminating against, and denying service to anyone just because he/she is wearing a religious headwear. A Sikh gentleman was centerpiece of this campaign, but it led to a policy being created which will benefit not only Sikhs, but people of all other faiths who are required to wear religious headwear.
We also advocated which lead to a new policy on accommodation of religious attire and headwear in Kalamazoo County Probate Court in Michigan. Michigan Judge sent a personal letter of apology for asking Mr Singh to either remove his "hat" or leave the courtroom.
Our advocacy team also launched the first Canadian Sikh Summit, 5th American Sikh Summit, 5th Global conference in France, Young Sikh Leaders Workshop and Know Your Rights Training Series this year. Our fight on our right to wear our articles of faith without discrimination continues. You can read more here
Our faith in the Guru and your faith in us is what has made these undertakings successful.
As we step into the New Year with new resolutions, I ask you again, what are you willing to do for Sikh rights?
I personally thank you for your support and request you to consider making your year end tax deductible donation today. We need your support so we can continue to fight for Sikh rights globally.