We interviewed Nitasha Sawhney, a lawyer at Burke, Williams, and Sorenson, LLP in Los Angeles, who has focused her energy on civil rights cases on behalf of Sikh Americans since 9/11, including Swaran Bhullar. As a Sikh American lawyer and activist, she spoke with great passion about her community's experiences. She feared that many Sikhs have simply become accustomed the prejudice they face daily. And she hopes that with enough education and advocacy, people may begin to recognize one another as Americans:
"As long as there is a war on terror, there will be a war on immigrant communities. It’s going to take this country as a long time to remember that this country was built by immigrants. Every time we have a war, we look at who is going to be 'the Other', who is going to look like the Other-- the Japanese, the Sikhs, the Muslims. Sikhs are attacked because they are assumed to be Arab, but the deeper problem is that someone is always going to be attacked when we are at war. We need to change this. We need more legislation and education. We need the community to step out of its protective shell. And we need the government and media to change the climate of this country."
We want to thank Nitasha not only for sharing her experience and perspective, but also supporting our project in every way. Her friendship, and the generosity of people like her, has brought us this far.
[This entry is cross-posted on "Into the Whirlwind," and was originally posted on July 19, 2005.]
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