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The Sikh American Spirit

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Table of Contents Mission/About Us Letter from the Chairman


Chardi Kala: Turning Tragedy into Unity Reflections on Oak Creek



Chardi Kala: Creating a Stronger Nation Washington Metropolitan Police Department Federal and State Advocacy Continuing Challenges


Chardi Kala: Building Bridges of Understanding White House Briefings Engaging the Media Working with Government Law Enforcement Partnership Program


Chardi Kala: Our Future 26 SikhLEAD Internship and Leadership Development Program SikhVote 34 Celebrating Fifteen Years of Progress Financials 36 Sponsors, Staff & Board 38 Resources 39 2

Gurdwara Sahib, Stockton, California, established 1912

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit


is the nation’s oldest Sikh American civil rights advocacy and educational organization, founded in 1996.

Our Mission

is to protect the civil rights of Sikh Americans and ensure a fostering environment in the United States for future generations.

Chardi Kala

is the Sikh philosophy of eternal optimism and high spirits.


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

MESSAGE from the Chairman:

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, This year, as we commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the first Sikh gurdwara in the country, we pay our respects to all those lost and injured during the tragic attacks on the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Two gurdwaras, separated by one hundred years, united by a common belief in the strength of the Sikh spirit and American dream. In 1912, a group of Sikhs came together in Stockton, California to raise the Nishaan Sahib (Sikh flag) at the first gurdwara in the nation, a sign that they believed their community could flourish in their new country. On August 12, 2012, thousands came together to raise the Nishaan Sahib at the gurdwara in Oak Creek, a sign that they would not be deterred from practicing their faith. Throughout our history, Sikh Americans have faced challenges, from the Bellingham riots in 1907, to the child bullied in school today, but we have always risen above to defend our rights and make our community stronger. In 1923, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Bhagat Singh Thind, a veteran of World War I, in his bid to become a citizen because he was not white. Today, SALDEF has launched the SikhVote project to encourage Sikh Americans to vote and exercise their hard-earned rights as citizens. We have made significant progress in the past year. Today, Sikh Americans can protect their communities with their identity intact as police officers in the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. Thanks to the leadership of Chief Cathy Lanier, the Nation’s 4

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh, Capital is the largest and first major city which will allow Sikh Americans to be uniformed, full-time police officers. Progress like this can only be made and sustained by ensuring our youth have the skills and opportunity they need to carry our community forward. SikhLEAD, our youth leadership program, has grown immensely. This fall we will host the second class of students in the Leadership Development Program. Eighteen participants come together from across the country for six days of training spread over two weekends in Washington, DC and Los Angeles, California. This summer, through the SikhLEAD Internship Program, we placed five students in full-time internships throughout offices in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House. These placements represent the largest number of students placed in offices on Capitol Hill in our history. It is our goal to expand these opportunities to more youth, so the future of Sikh America will always be bright.

community to make progress. Your support will help us tackle the next set of challenges that face us. Your support will ensure our community always stays in chardi kala. Sincerely,

Manjit Singh Co-Founder, Chairman, SALDEF

As the attacks in Wisconsin showed us, there is much work left to be done. Your support over the past sixteen years has allowed our 5

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit


Turning Tragedy into Unity In memory of those who lost their lives on August 5, 2012.

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

“We are all part of the Oak Creek sangat.” “We will overcome today’s pain and drive tomorrow’s progress. … For generations, [Sikhs] have taught the world that progress comes when we strive to understand, and when we celebrate our commonalities. We need you now, more than ever, to do what your ancestors have always done in times of adversity: show us what it means to rise above suffering and struggle; teach us the way to peace; and remind us that our faith – both in the divine and in each other – will allow us to transcend today’s fears, to bridge today’s divisions, to overcome today’s sorrows, to feel the healing comfort of God’s hand upon us, and to find strength in the enduring assurance that, everywhere and always, God is there.” – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder 8

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Creating a Stronger Nation

Dalip Singh Saund with President John F. Kennedy

Bhagat Singh Thind, United States Army

“In the weeks after 9/11, I was proud to work with SALDEF and the Sikh American community…As long as Sikhs continue to face religious discrimination in the workplace, and Sikh children continue to be bullied in school because of their faith,

we still have work to do, and we must finish that work.” – Senator DICK Durbin (IL) 11

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Nation’s Capital First Major Police Department to Allow Full-Time Sikh American Police Officers. In May, the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the seventh largest police force in the nation, became the first major police department in the United States to explicitly and voluntarily allow Sikh Americans to serve as full-time, uniformed police officers while keeping their articles of faith. The policy serves as a model for agencies around the nation. The guidelines remove barriers to employment often faced by Sikh Americans in other public safety positions which prevent them from serving with their turbans, beards, and other articles of faith.

Washington, DC is now the largest city in the United States in which Sikh Americans can become full-time, uniformed police officers, joining their counterparts across the world. The policy is the result of an eight year partnership between MPD and SALDEF. Since 2004, over 4,000 MPD officers have participated in cultural awareness training through SALDEF’s Law Enforcement Partnership Program.


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

SALDEF delivered over 2500 handwritten letters collected in one weekend to the Governor from Sikhs in California.

Strengthening California Schools After months of advocacy and thousands of messages sent to California lawmakers, SALDEF and a coalition of organizations ensured the passage of SB 1540 which will revise and update the state social science curriculum. SALDEF delivered over 2,500 hand signed letters from members of the California sangat urging him to require the State Board of Education to recognize the over one hundred year history of the Sikh American community in California.


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

End Racial Profiling Act For the first time in twelve years, the Senate will hold a hearing on Hate Crimes and Racial Profiling, as a result of over a decade of advocacy by SALDEF and our partners including the Rights Working Group and the American Civil Liberties Union. Throughout the year, the coalition met with the offices of 65 Representatives and Senators and shared the damaging effects of racial profiling on communities, including the stories of Sikh Americans. As a result, ninety members of Congress support the End Racial Profiling Act which would prohibit law enforcement agencies from profiling and collect data on profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, and religion. 15

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Vandalized Gurdwara in Michigan

Virginia Family Threatened After receiving a death threat in the mail, a Sikh American family in Virginia contacted SALDEF. The letter threatened the family for appearing to be “associated with the Taliban”. Due to SALDEF’s long-standing relationships, the matter received immediate and serious attention by police and media outlets throughout the region. As a result of the attention, the community has a stronger connection with local law enforcement, and Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman and his officers visited the gurdwara in Sterling, Virginia. 16

Michigan Gurdwara Vandalized In Febraury 2011, the sangat of Sterling Heights, Michigan awoke to find their gurdwara vandalized with grafitti containing vulgar language, threats, and references to 9/11. SALDEF worked with the local community to reach out to the police, the FBI, and the local media. As a result, the Sikh and non-Sikh community of Sterling Heights, Michigan came together in solidarity against hate and in support of diversity, religious freedom, and tolerance.

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

71% of Sikh American students think educational programs about Sikhism in their schools would stop bullying and harassment. Bullying in California Schools Over six months, SALDEF conducted a survey of K-12 students in Southern California. The survey found that 67% of students were bullied because of their religion in the past year. Incidents ranged from verbal harassment to physical assault. Students reported that almost all incidents occurred in schools. SALDEF, local sangats, and local schools are using these findings to develop a safer atmosphere for Sikh American students, including the inclusion of Sikhism in the curriculum. 17

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Building Bridges of Understanding Personal relationships are the key to success, and since 1996, SALDEF has been developing relationships with the White House, Federal Agencies, Law Enforcement and the Media to produce tangible results for the Sikh American community. These relationships are helping to address the challenges facing our community and ensuring that a positive image of Sikhs is projected. 19

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

In 2011, SALDEF brought together 30 Sikh American business and healthcare professionals for meetings with senior members of the White House. The meetings were an opportunity to demonstrate that Sikh Americans have professional expertise in all sectors affecting American life. During the meetings, attendees had the opportunity to engage the Administration in a discussion about government policies, provide insight into their effects on their communities, and offer suggestions on how to improve the economy, aid small business, and increase access to healthcare. 20

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

ENGAGING WITH THE MEDIA In the aftermath of Oak Creek, providing the media with accurate and timely information was critical. SALDEF served as a trusted resource for CNN and other outlets in the days following the attack and SALDEF representatives from around the country were interviewed on numerous national and international outlets including the Associated Press, Reuters, CNN, NPR, and FOX. Additionally, earlier this year, SALDEF was interviewed twice for the Headline News (a division of CNN), which aired five-minute segments in millions of homes across the country. The first piece discussed who Sikh Americans are, our contribution to American society, and current challenges. The second piece highlighted the Sikh American perspective on the presidential election and explored opportunities for minority communities to become more civically engaged. Exposure through media is one of the most effective ways to raise awareness about Sikhs.

CONNECTING LOCAL COMMUNITIES WITH GOVERNMENT In 2002, SALDEF organized the first Know Your Rights Forum and since then, we have organized forums in 30 cities across the country and educated countless Sikh Americans about their rights. The purpose of a Know Your Rights Forum is to introduce community members to agencies and groups that can address complaints, incidents, or issues; and provide local, state and federal governmental agencies the opportunity to build relationships with, and address the specific needs of, their local Sikh American community. 21

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

SALDEF has participated in meetings and forums with senior leaders throughout government INCLUDING:

President Barack Obama US Attorney General Eric Holder FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez FBI Assistant Director James McJunkin EEOC Chairwoman Jacqueline Berrien TSA Administrator John Pistole Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick Executive Director, White House Initiative on AAPI’s Kiran Ahuja DC Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier Senator Harry Reid (NV) 22

Senator Mark Begich (AK) Senator Daniel Akaka (HI) Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT) Senator Al Franken (MN) Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) Senator Benjamin Cardin (MD) Senator Dick Durbin (IL) Senator Thomas Carper (DE) Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook Representative Michael Honda (CA) Representative Wally Herger (CA)

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Educating Employment Discrimination Specialists SALDEF conducted 5 diversity trainings for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2012. Over 500 members of the EEOC, including attorneys, investigators, mediators, and staff, were informed about the Sikh faith and religious practices through the course of these trainings. The EEOC’s district offices which received training were New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. As Sikh Americans face a disproportionate number of challenges in the workplace, SALDEF sought to engage the agency responsible for protecting Sikh Americans in employment settings. The training gave basic information about Sikh beliefs and practices, Sikh American demographics, and common misperceptions about

Sikhs and Sikhism, along with recommendations for interacting with the Sikh American community. SALDEF staff discussed the various employment related challenges faced by the Sikh American community and shared examples of cases from different industries and professions.

“The training was one of the best which my staff has ever received. Because of the quality of the presentation and the value of the information relayed, I would encourage all of my counterparts in other parts of the country to take advantage of this kind of training.” – Spencer Lewis, Director, Philadelphia District Office 23

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Educating Law Enforcement Over 800 law enforcement officers received in-person Sikh American cultural awareness training this year through SALDEF’s Law Enforcement Partnership Program (LEPP). Officers from over a dozen different local, state, and federal agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the National Park Service, and the Houston Police Department, were trained across the nation in California, Georgia, Alabama, Maryland, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. 24

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

“Our valued collaboration with SALDEF has produced a unique and informative curriculum which will serve to strengthen our partnership with the Sikh American community.” – Sheriff Douglas Gillespie of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

Developing Specialized Curriculums Las Vegas: The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in Nevada reached out to SALDEF and the local Sikh American community to develop a tailored cultural awareness education program introducing the Sikh American community and their practices. The program was also customized to allow the LVMPD to better interact with the local community and the thousands who travel through the area every month.

California: Over 600 police departments and over 60,000 law enforcement officers in California now have access to cultural awareness training materials on Sikh Americans. The Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) worked with SALDEF to add On Common Ground, a Sikh American cultural awareness training video for law enforcement, to their online Learning Portal. Established in 1959, POST sets minimum selection and training standards for members of the California law enforcement community. 25

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Our Future Last year, SALDEF launched a unique initiative called SikhLEAD to inspire, develop and support young Sikh Americans as they prepare for a lifetime of community engagement and leadership. SikhLEAD’s goal is to increase civic engagement and encourage public service among young Sikh Americans. SikhLEAD launched with two first-of-their-kind programs: SikhLEAD Internship Program The SikhLEAD Internship Program places Sikh American college students in internship positions on Capitol Hill and Federal Agencies. Through this program, students are afforded first-hand perspective into the functioning of the federal government and legislative process.

Leadership Development Program The Leadership Development Program (LDP) is a leadership training program that brings together a group of young Sikh American leaders from across the country to participate in six days of training spread over two holiday weekends (Columbus Day and Memorial Day) in Washington, DC and Los Angeles, CA. Attendees participate in a series of challenging workshops, group activities and thought provoking discussions to promote personal development, build leadership skills and gain community empowerment skills. 27

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

SikhLEAD Internship Program SikhLEAD Internships seek to develop leadership skills, encourage political and civic engagement, and foster interest in public service careers by providing the unparalleled experience of interning in a congressional office or federal agency. Internships allow students to explore a potential career track, create a network of professional and personal contacts, develop real-world skills, and build confidence. Throughout the duration of the internship, SALDEF hosts a series of special programming and opportunities, such as leadership workshops, networking events, and cultural outings in DC, to further contribute to the development of the next generation of leaders. 28

Gurkaran Singh, SikhLEAD Intern with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

SikhLEAD Internship Program had five participants – the largest number of Sikh American interns on Capitol Hill and in the White House Amrita Bamrah – University of Illinois: White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Jaywin Singh Malhi – Southern Methodist University: Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) & Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)

“I would have never imagined that I would meet the President and First Lady, watch the President depart in the

Amrita Sehgal – University of California, Berkley: Representative Wally Herger (R-CA)

Marine One helicopter, stand on the South Lawn of the White House listening to the President speak, or make friends that are going to last me a lifetime.”

Maninder Saini – University of California, Santa Cruz:

–Amrita Bamrah, SikhLEAD Intern

Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)

Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)

Gurkaran Singh – New York University: Representative 29

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

“I came with an open mind and left completely inspired. Most importantly though, I have 16 other young leaders who I can call family.� Leadership Development Program (LDP) The Leadership Development Program (LDP) is a two-part program to empower Sikh American youth in becoming effective leaders, committed to exploring and realizing both their personal potential and that of the Sikh American community. As part of 30

the program, participants create a personal mission statement, develop new skills in public speaking, increase awareness of personal culture and identity, develop a clear understanding of their unique leadership profile and build skills to increase community empowerment.

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

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Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

SikhVote To increase the strength of the Sikh American voice and promote civic engagement amongst our youth, SALDEF launched the Sikh Vote project — a non-partisan voter education and engagement program. SALDEF has partnered with organizations around the country to increase engagement by the Sikh American and Asian Pacific American community. Estimates indicate the Asian Pacific American community has one of the lowest levels of political engagement in the country, which hinders the ability of the community to get attention from policymakers. SALDEF has dozens of youth volunteers in eight states, California, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Texas, Illinois, Missouri, and

New Jersey. These volunteers, college students and alumni of the SikhLEAD program are recruiting other youth in the communities and campuses to go into gurdwaras and other Sikh American community organizations to encourage people to register to vote, learn more about the issues, and to share the voice on election day. SikhVOTE Resources Registration Drive Toolkit Election Information Posters (English and Punjabi) Voter Rights Handouts (English and Punjabi) Online Registration Widget 33

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Celebrating Fifteen Years of Progress GALA 2011 Last year, community members, partners, and supporters from across the country came together to celebrate SALDEF’s fifteenth anniversary and to honor five individuals for their contributions to

civil rights, religious freedom, and community service.

The Public Service Award was awarded to former Secretary of Transportation, the Honorable Norman Mineta, whose leadership in the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11 was a testament to a long career in public service dedicated to promoting equality, tolerance, and diversity. Mr. Mineta also made conscious efforts to ensure that the rights of the Sikh, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities were protected while traveling. Rana Singh Sodhi received the Bhagat Singh Thind Community Empowerment award for his ability to transcend the tragedy of his brother’s death and utilize it as a catalyst for education, outreach, and understanding. Mr. Sodhi’s embodiment of chardi kala and commitment to the community serves as an exemplar for the entire Sikh American community.

S. Floyd Mori, former National Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) was honored with the Dorothy Height Coalition Building Award for a career dedicated to the service of the Asian Pacific American Community. SALDEF’s Youth Leadership Award recognized Deep Singh, Co-Founder of the Jakara Movement, a youth oriented Sikh organization based in California aimed at connecting Sikh American youth to Sikh history and beliefs as well as social justice. The Dalip Singh Saund Legislative Leadership Award was accepted by Senator Dick Durbin for his leadership in advocating for legislation to increase protection for civil rights, promote religious freedom, and his efforts following the 9/11 attacks. 35

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Other Expense Health Insurance Printing & Reproduction Employer Taxes Equipment Rental Communication Expenses Web Hosting & Online Services Conference Room Rental

4% 2% 2% 11% 2% 3% 2% 5%



Rent & Utilities


Programmatic Expenses


2011 Expenses


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

1% 11% 8%


Speaking / Training Fees Grants & Foundations Event Sponsorship

Individual Contribution

2011 Income


Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Thank You SALDEF recognizes the following foundations and corporate sponsors for their partnerships and generous support of our organization. APIA VOTE APALC Comcast Genworth Financial Ik Manzil South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) South Asian Bar Association – Southern California Public Interest Foundation Southwest Airlines Additionally, we thank our countless supporters and volunteers from across the country who have helped us further our mission. Your contributions and support enhance the lives of thousands of Sikh Americans across the country. We look forward to your continued support in 2013 and beyond. SALDEF is indebted to the following photo contributors including: Holt Museum, Thind family, V. Covert Martin, Baljinder Bathla, Ernie Mastroianni and 38

SALDEF Team Board of Directors Manjit Singh, Chairman & Co-Founder Navjeet Singh, Vice Chairman Jasbir K. Bawa Kavneet Singh Parminder Singh Staff Jasjit Singh, Executive Director Amrita Singh, Legal and Legislative Affairs Associate Birpal Kaur, Community Outreach Associate Navdeep Singh, Policy Advisor Joyce Johnson, Office Manager Regional Directors Bhupinder Kaur – Western Regional Director Jaswant Singh Chani – Northeast Regional Director Navtej Singh Khalsa – Southeast Regional Director Sathanuman Singh Khalsa – Pacific Northwest Regional Director Savraj Singh – Eastern Regional Director

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit

Educational Resources Education and outreach form a major component of SALDEF’s work. Through increased awareness and understanding of the Sikh American community, SALDEF ensures that the community continues to project a positive and productive image within the United States.

SALDEF educational publications include: A Sikh Parents Guide to School Bullying Know Your Rights Pocket Guide Who Are The Sikhs Brochure Visiting a Gurdwara Booklet for Non-Sikhs Sikh Awareness Pocket Calendars Law Enforcement Reference Card  On Common Ground – Sikh American Cultural Awareness Training DVD An Educator’s Guide to Sikh Americans A Healthcare Provider’s Guide to Sikh Americans How to Organize a Vigil Voter Engagement Resources 39

Learn more about SALDEF, join our mailing list, and download available resources by visiting NATIONAL Office 1012 14th Street, Suite 450, Washington, DC 20005 P: 202.403.0246 | F: 202.318.4433

Southern California Office 634 South Spring Street, Suite 802, Los Angeles, CA 90014 p: 213.985.1116 | f: 202.318.4433

SALDEF 2012 Annual Report  

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) is the oldest Sikh American civil rights and educational organization. We empowe...

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