Anti-Sikh bigotry didn’t start with 9/11. That fact got me through it. – RNS

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By Simran Jeet Singh | Religion News Service |

(RNS) — I was a senior in high school when the terrorist attacks of 9/11 happened.

During passing period that morning, a friend mentioned that there might have been a terrorist attack in New York City. Not knowing the seriousness of what had occurred, I offered a joke in response: “I hope they didn’t have turbans.” We laughed and went on our way.

Since we’d grown up in Texas, New York City felt nearly as foreign to us as terrorism. We hadn’t experienced much of either during our lifetimes, so the possibility of an attack in the Big Apple didn’t weigh heavily on us.
I walked to Mrs. Strong’s classroom, where some friends and I used to hang out before school each day. She had the television on, which was unusual. We stood next to her silently as we watched the Twin Towers come down. None of us knew what to do.

Soon, news channels began to show images of the primary suspect. I’d never heard of Osama bin Laden, but he may as well have been my identical twin: turban, beard, brown skin. I knew Americans would not stop to tell the difference between us. I knew immediately that my life would change forever.

Over the next few days, we kept watch on the news during the day, trying to understand what had happened to our country, and how. In the evenings, we would gather around the phone, listening to Sikhs from around the U.S. sharing the latest updates from their local communities: who had been attacked in hate, how they were doing and what the local Sikh community was doing to ensure they were safe.

Read the full article, ‘Anti-Sikh bigotry didn’t start with 9/11. That fact got me through it.’ (RNS, 8 Oct 2021), here.

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