Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category.

Pray For Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad

We are deeply saddened to hear that at least 160 people have been killed in a series of bomb blasts and armed attacks in Paris today, November 13, and in  Beirut and Baghdad earlier this week. UNITED SIKHS strongly condemns the attacks, and offers heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families.

This week, your donations will be doubled by #DasvandhNetwork. Make a bigger difference.

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We appreciate your support in the past, which allowed us to initiate natural disaster relief projects. For more details click here. Our recent relief efforts include Nepal Earthquake Relief, Myanmar Flood Relief and Washington Wildfire Relief. #DasvandhWeek begins this Saturday, November 7, and lasts until Sunday, November 15.

During this week, all donations made towards the UNITED SIKHS GurKirpa Health Network project and UNITED SIKHS natural disaster relief efforts will be DOUBLED by the Dasvandh Network.

To donate to our natural disaster relief efforts through the Dasvandh network, click here.
To donate to the Gurkirpa Health Network through the Dasvandh network, click here.

The Dasvandh Network is an online giving platform where donors and organizations can actively participate in the spirit of Dasvandh, or share part of one’s earnings towards the betterment of society.

The UNITED SIKHS Gurkirpa Health Network Hospital treats 700 to 1200 individuals every month for typhoid, dehydration, minor and serious accidental cases, and various other ailments. This health center also aims to address the drug epidemic in Panjab, India, by serving 40,000 individuals who are in need of drug rehabilitation. Click here for more details.

This year, your support changed lives. In 2016, we have no plans of slowing down. It was an honor to work with donors, volunteers, and supporters from every corner of the globe in 2015, to whom we extend our utmost gratitude. We hope that you will join hands with us in our effort to recognize the human race as one in the new year.

Join UNITED SIKHS to Celebrate California Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month!

UNITED SIKHS congratulates its volunteers and supporters on the fourth annual Sikh Awareness month in California, USA. In 2012, California State Legislature declared November as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation month-a month to recognize American Sikhs, and honor the contribution of Sikhs to American society.

This November, join us to help teach our fellow Americans about Sikhi:

“Be Your Own Superhero”

Join us at Milpitas Gurudwara, California on November 8 for a four hour workshop starting at twelve in the afternoon, Pacific Standard Time, with special guest artist Joti Dhanjal, creator of Dhanjalart.

 

Joti Dhanjal is a young Sikh artist from the UK. Click here to view more of his work.

UNITED SIKHS is committed to continuing the fight against bullying, and to providing knowledge and resources to students and parents who face bullying. To attend the workshop, please email contact@unitedsikhs.org. Click here to view images of previous anti-bullying workshops.

“Tie a Turban Day”

In collaboration with the San Jose State University Sikh Student Association, UNITED SIKHS aims to fight the stigma and stereotypes against turbans, and humanize individuals who wear them. This event will take place at San Jose State University, California on November 18, beginning at 11:00 AM Pacific Standard Time and lasting until 2:00 PM.

This year, we encourage all California residents to do their part to spread awareness about Sikhism and its followers. If you would like to organize a UNITED SIKHS Turban Tying Day or an Anti-Bullying Workshop, email contact@unitedsikhs.org.

It is through your support that we are able to spread awareness about Sikhism. Join our effort to spread awareness of minority faiths by donating today to help us expand these programs.

Follow our social media accounts to learn more about our organization: Facebook Twitter 

USA: Have You Signed the Petition to Protect Sikh Drivers’ Civil Rights?

UNITED SIKHS helped the sangat of Gurdwaras in California and New York sign the UNITED SIKHS hair sampling petition to ensure the protection of commercial drivers of the Sikh faith. Similar events were hosted at Gurudwaras in Virginia, in the Washington, D.C. area, and across the United States.

Hair Sampling Collage

On September 28, you signed the petition to write to your Senators about the detrimental effects bill S.806: Drug Free Commercial Driver Act will have on the Sikh community if passed without a religious accommodation amendment. In the past four weeks, we have received 1,200 signatures, but our work is far from over. The bill is still in the Senate and continues to pose a threat to Sikh commercial drivers across the country. If you haven’t done so already, we ask you to sign the petition to your Senators asking them support the civil rights of the Sikh community, and share it with your friends and family.

Civil Rights Violation

Bill S.806 has the potential to violate the civil rights – the rights of citizens to equality and freedom – of Sikh commercial drivers. It fails to implement the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of the right of every citizen to practice his or her faith without fear of persecution or discrimination.

If this bill is enacted, employers will be able to force a Sikh operator to provide a hair sample without offering an alternate form of testing such as urinalysis, thereby preventing Sikhs from seeking employment as operators due to their inability to cut their hair for any purpose.

Once again, Sikhs would have to choose between employment, and their faith.

The bill will affect operators of all commercial vehicles. By signing the petition, you are contacting your Senators directly, and making your voice heard. Only one Senator must object to the bill and propose the amendment on the Senate floor. We are ensuring Senators across the country are aware of the concerns of the Sikh community.

As a civil rights organization, UNITED SIKHS is dedicated to ensuring the rights of all citizens, regardless of race, religion, or gender.

It is vital that we as a community rally around our senators – these officials should be informed of the detrimental effect of this bill on the Sikh community, and that overall, it stands in stark contrast to the free exercise clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We thank all of our supporters who have already signed the petition, taking a stand for religious freedom in the United States. Please continue to share it with your friends and family, and encourage others to help us make a positive change.

Keep up to date on this issue and other UNTIED SIKHS initiatives by following our social media accounts:Facebook | Twitter |

Hypertension Awareness Programs Launched to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease Among Sikh Americans

CEED1“Keep on Track” team members: Gurdwara Baba Majha Singh Karamjot Sikh Center volunteers, New York University Staff, and UNITED SIKHS staff.

New Jersey/New York – To increase awareness of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease in the Sikh American community, UNITED SIKHS organized events at two Gurdwaras, or Sikh places of worship. These awareness events took place in September of this year in partnership with Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Carteret, NJ, and Gurdwara Baba Majha Singh Karamjot Sikh Center in South Ozone Park, NY. The events were organized as part of REACH FAR, a 3-year program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through a REACH grant awarded to New York University’s Center for the Study of Asian American Health (NYU CSAAH).

EXPERTS SUGGEST THAT 1 IN 5 ASIAN INDIANS IN THE USA HAS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE.

REACH FAR stands for Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health for Asian Americans. The goal of the program is to prevent cardiovascular disease in Asian Americans living in New York and New Jersey by increasing access to healthy foods and culturally tailored health coaching to improve high blood pressure management. Core partners include: UNITED SIKHS; Korean Community Services; Kalusugan Coalition; the Diabetes Research, Education, and Action for Minorities (DREAM) Coalition; and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

CEED2UNITED SIKHS Community Education and Empowerment Directorate (CEED) Project Manager Rucha Kaur and Project Coordinator Gagandeep Kaur engaged community members in discussion and demonstrations

The event at Gurdwara Singh Sabha was organized on September 20, 2015. Sangat members participated in discussions on healthy lifestyles, sodium intake, and food label information, as well as food demonstrations on full fat versus low fat yogurt and a tasty brown rice option. Khalsa Sweet House, a Carteret-based restaurant and REACH FAR partner, provided a brown rice biryani for sangat members to try.

Keep on Track, a hypertension awareness program supported by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was launched at Gurdwara Baba Majha Singh Karamjot Sikh Center on September 27, 2015. The goal of Keep on Track is to offer blood pressure monitoring at community-based organizations to help community members prevent and control high blood pressure. Sangat members at the Gurdwara sahib participated in a survey, received blood pressure readings from trained community members, and were given information that will assist them in making healthy lifestyle choices.

The Gurdwara committees and local volunteers are taking the lead on encouraging sangat members to make healthy lifestyle choices in their homes and at the Gurdwara. These Gurdwaras and UNITED SIKHS have previously partnered on other community-focused health initiatives including an oral health promotion project, diabetes prevention intervention, and in-language health insurance access services. Committee and community members will continue to work to improve health outcomes by bringing additional aspects of the REACH FAR program to the Gurdwara sahib. With your support, UNITED SIKHS strives to continue promoting health education and nutritious eating habits within local communities.

For more information on REACH FAR, Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Baba Majha Singh Karamjot Sikh Center, UNITED SIKHS or our other health initiatives, please contact us at ceed-usa@unitedsikhs.org.

To volunteer for UNITED SIKHS, click here. Keep up to date on this initiative and other UNTIED SIKHS projects by following our social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Blog.

In Solidarity: Umpqua Community College Shooting

UNITED SIKHS‬ extends heartfelt condolences to victims and their families after the shooting at ‪‎Oregon‬‘s Umpqua Community College on October 1, which left 10 individuals dead and 9 injured. Such unfathomable and horrifying acts of violence remind us of the shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh place of worship in 2012, which claimed 6 lives. We are deeply saddened to hear of yet another senseless and tragic occurrence.

UNITED SIKHS Chief Operations Officer Amrita Kaur states, “UNITED SIKHS would like to extend heartfelt condolences to the victims, families, friends, and community members that have been affected by the recent shooting in Oregon. Atrocities such as this highlight the need for all of us to work together as a community to strengthen bonds and heal the wounds created from the loss of innocent lives. Every community has been affected by attacks such as the one in Oregon, and further showcases the need for all of us to stand united. “

USA: URGENT ACTION NEEDED! Say NO To New Hair Sampling Bill Posing Threat To Sikh Operators!

Remember last year we called on you to take a stand against religious discrimination? We are once again in need of your support. The Drug Free Commercial Driver Act is back in the House of Representatives as well as in the Senate, and poses as serious threat to Sikh truck drivers who are unwilling to cut their hair.

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Hair Sampling Image

If enacted, this bill will allow employers to force a Sikh operator to provide a hair sample without offering an alternate form of testing such as urinalysis, thereby preventing Sikhs from seeking employment as operators due to their inability to cut their hair for any purpose. Once again, Sikhs would have to choose between employment, and their faith. We urge our USA supporters to sign a petition to their senators and inform them of the detrimental effect of this bill on the Sikh community, and that overall, it stands in stark contrast to the free exercise clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

 

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On the heels of the introduction of this new bill, UNITED SIKHS drafted amendment language that would require motor carriers to offer an alternate form of testing to employees who cannot cut their hair due to established religious requirements. We have reached out to every Congressperson and Senator on the bills’ sponsoring committees to educate them about the bills, and proposed the inclusion of a religious exemption amendment. We know that there is a dire need for such a clause. In 2013, UNITED SIKHS wrote a legal demand letter to a trucking company in Arizona, which refused to hire an elderly Sikh unless he submitted a freshly cut sample of his hair for drug testing, and the company ignored the letter. If bill S. 806 goes through, it will unfold disastrous consequences for Sikh truck drivers. UNITED SIKHS is now emailing, calling, and meeting every one of eighty five Congresspersons and Senators who are on the bills’ sponsoring committees, asking them to support UNITED SIKHS’ effort to include religious accommodations. Furthermore, 15 Congressmen’s and Senators’ offices met with UNITED SIKHS advocates during the 2015 Youth Summit on Capitol Hill, and were informed about this issue.

Our message: While accommodation language just has to be one sentence, neglecting to include it will essentially give the trucking industry a free hand to impetuously reject Sikh applicants on their refusal to cut their hair. Devout Sikhs should not be forced to choose between employment and their faith. We cannot allow incidents like the one in Arizona to be repeated. For this, we need your support.

Click here to read more about this issue.

Pope Welcomes Sikh Community with Open Arms

UNITED SIKHS was honored to represent the Sikh community at Ground Zero during Pope Francis’ interfaith prayer service on September 25, 2015.

The 266th Catholic pope is the fourth incumbent pope to visit the United States, and further made history by conducting an interfaith prayer service at the former site of the World Trade Center. As part of his 6-day visit to the United States, Pope Francis has also spoken at the White House, the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, and became the first pope to address the U.S. Congress.

During his speeches, the Pope emphasized the collective social responsibility every citizen has to ensure the safety and acceptance of oppressed and underrepresented communities. Pope Francis has advocated for minority and immigrant rights and representation in the past, and continues to do so during his time in the United States.

 

Pope Francis stands in unity with religious minorities.

 

At Ground Zero, Pope Francis shared the stage with representatives from 10 world religions, including Dr. Satpal Singh and Dr. Gunisha Kaur, who read from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, or the Sikh holy text during the prayer.

 

“Know that we attain God when we love, and only that victory endures.” Dr. Satpal Singh and Dr. Gunisha Kaur read a shabad, or Sikh prayer.

 

In a memo released by the Office of the Moderator of the Curia, Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, members of the Sikh community were assured that those wearing a Kirpan would not be prevented from attending the interfaith ceremony. This was not the case previously. UNITED SIKHS worked with other interfaith organizations and directly with the Diocese of Brooklyn to ensure that the Sikh community would not be prevented from entering the ceremony on the basis of wearing a Kirpan, which was initially listed as a prohibited item. Accordingly, the United States Secret Service in conjunction with the Papal Visit Office was briefed on the Kirpan as being an article of faith. Great respect was shown to members of the Sikh community wearing a Kirpan, while passing through customary security procedures at the interfaith ceremony.

Four senior members of UNTIED SIKHS attended the event, including Chief Operations Officer Amrita Kaur, who remarks “UNITED SIKHS’ invitation to join the Pope in an interfaith prayer service at the 9/11 memorial is symbolic of the struggle the Sikh community has faced since the attacks of 9/11. The interfaith prayer service helps advance our goals of promoting peace and prosperity between minority religions all over the world.”

Indeed, the representation of Sikh Americans at the Ground Zero event holds a poignant significance to a community who has faced appalling acts of hate and violence in a post-9/11 world. The inclusion of minority faiths such as Sikh Americans on this groundbreaking day gave us the platform and visibility needed to gain the acceptance and understanding of our fellow Americans. Even after the unthinkable tragedies witnessed on and after September 11, 2001, we may still unite under the banner of religion and recognize the human race as one. In the words of Pope Francis,

“This is the time to live together with love and peace with different religions and differences. This is the time to embrace our differences and we should voice against those who stop us from being together. We should throw away our feelings of hate.”

With your support, UNITED SIKHS pledges to continue advocating for minority faiths around the world, and working towards shaping a more tolerant society.

Honoring 9/11’s Unheeded Victims

UPDATE: September 15, 2015– A hate crime charge has been added in the case of Inderjit Singh.

On the heels of the most recent anti-Sikh hate crime in the United States, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) has introduced a resolution to honor victims of post 9/11 hate crimes. Johnson states:

“September 11, 2001 changed the course of our country’s history forever. Many Americans lost their lives and loved ones in those senseless acts of terrorism. In the aftermath of 9/11, we saw a marked increase of violence misdirected at individuals within the Arab, South Asian, Sikh, and Muslim communities. In the first nine weeks following 9/11, there were over 700 documented cases of violent incidents targeting Arab-Americans. On this day, I want to recognize the individuals who were unfairly targeted in post-9/11 violence. This resolution reaffirms the positive contributions that Arabs, South Asian, Sikh, and Muslims make to the United States and recognizes the rights of religious freedom upheld in the Constitution.”

 

Joining Congresswoman Johnson in cosponsoring this resolution are Representatives Andre Carson ( IN-7), Mike Honda (CA-17), and Paul Tonko (NY-20). On behalf of the Sikh community, who has endured untold amounts of violence after 9/11, we are moved and grateful to see such a resolution introduced, and the severe impact that 9/11 on communities such as that of Sikh Americans validated.

Unfortunately, the journey towards a safe and tolerant society is far from over. A prime example of the horrifying post-9/11 violence that our community lives in fear of occurred only last week, as Inderjit Singh, 53, of Chicago, Illinois was driving when another driver cut him off, preventing him from moving his car. The driver then approached Singh and punched him repeatedly, calling him “Bin Laden,” and telling him to go back to his country. Singh, a U.S. citizen, was hospitalized and treated for a fractured cheek bone, a laceration requiring stitches, a black eye, bruising, and swelling.

Inderjit Singh

 

Inderjit Singh after the attack.

 

Instead of labeling this incident as a hate crime, law enforcement is categorizing it as a result of the attacker’s road rage, despite his use of racial slurs. Last year, UNITED SIKHS took on a similar case of hate-based violence, where a Sikh American in New York alleged a perpetrator damaged his vehicle, spit in his direction, and referred to him using a racial slur. The most challenging hurdle in this case was upgrading the charge, after police reported it as a simple traffic accident. Read more about the case here: http://unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-25-07-14-01.html.

As we remember the innocent lives lost on Septempber 11th, 2001, as well as the lives lost due to post-9/11 ignorance, we are reminded that our work as a civil rights organization is now more important than ever. Support our fight against hate and ignorance—donate today.

If you have been victim to hate-based violence, contact law-usa@unitedsikhs.org.

“I continue to nurture the passion that I have to help others.”: California Sikh Man Gives Back to Community

By day, LA-based #UNITEDSIKHS volunteer Harbakshish Singh  is the Assistant Vice President Corporate Treasury at MUFG Union Bank. In his free time, however, he works with 826LA–a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.
Harbakshish Singh (Photo Credit: 826LA)

Nominated as best mentor/volunteer at 826LA, Harbakshish began volunteering in 2014, and commonly works with students seeking help with math. Read his interview with the organization here: http://826la.org/WP/2015/08/21/iwanttohelp-nurture-the-passion-that-i-have-to-help-others/

“I want to help because I realized when I was still relatively young that I had many passions, and also that I would need to work hard in order to keep these passions alive. In order to live fully, to have a meaningful existence, I would need to keep my important passions alive. I have always enjoyed solving problems, and as I matured I realized that the common theme among all my passions was my ability to solve complex problems and to serve others in a leadership role. I continue to nurture the passion that I have to help others, as a leader and as an engaged member of an academic community.”

UNITED SIKHS salutes community members like Harbakshish Singh, who find new and innovative ways to practice the core values of seva, and improve the lives of others.