Filmmaker chronicled life for American Sikhs in the aftermath of 9/11
It was a few days after Sept. 11, 2001, when Valarie Kaur, a third-generation American of Indian descent and a Stanford University student at the time, decided to turn a senior honors paper on religion and violence into a videotaped road trip across America.
This wasn't exactly a pleasure outing. Kaur, then 20, was shaken both by the terrorist attacks as well as the vastly underreported spate of hate crimes directed mostly at male members of the American Sikh community.
The Sikhs are neither Muslim nor from the Middle East. It didn't matter. They wear turbans and beards as articles of faith, which made them targets for the ignorant and the vile among us.
"My grandfather crossed an ocean to be an American,'' Kaur, a Sikh, says at the start of the film.
"A century later, I crossed this country to discover what it means to be an American.''
What she found during her four-month, 14-city cross country trek was both ugly and inspirational.
Six years later, the college project is a thought-provoking and award-winning documentary one film critic describes as a "hopeful civics lesson on what it means to be an American.''
The film, "Divided We Fall: America in the Aftermath,'' is a gut check about how prejudices, stereotypes and misplaced fear can easily corrupt ideals and flourish during a national security crisis. But it's also about clinging to principles and higher moral ground. [Link]
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