Supporting Sikh & South Asian Americans and the Indianapolis Shooting
Another mass shooting by a white gunman targeting Asian Americans has happened in Indianapolis on April 15, 2021. Matthew Alexander, Samaria Blackwell, Amarjeet Johal, Jasvinder Kaur, Jaswinder Singh, Amarjit Sekhon, Karli Smith, John Weisert died at a Fed Ex distribution center whose employees are majority Sikh. Four of the dead are Sikh. This is the second time in ten years that Sikh Americans have been targeted in a mass shooting—Oak Creek Wisconsin, August 5, 2012 saw another white shooter kill six Sikh people in their gurdwara as they gathered to worship together. And a Sikh man, Balbir Singh Sodhi was killed in the US when a white shooter said he wanted to get revenge for 9/11, making him the first but not the last Sikh American targeted with racist hate.
Sikh immigrants and their descendants have had a long, storied history in the US, beyond being targeted with violence. They worked in mines, in railways, in agriculture, and more. The Bellingham, Washington riots of 1907 beat down and drove many from their homes. Sikh Americans also played a key role in the Gadar movement that fought for independence of South Asia from British rule. Today, Sikh Americans continue to organize for racial and economic justice as well as for religious equality.
The Association for Asian American Studies acknowledges that we have not done enough to declare that the racial terrorism and religious hate against Sikh Americans and South Asian Americans is part of a longer history of racial hatred and xenophobia that Asian Americans have experienced in the US. But we will try harder and do more to support Sikh Americans, to recognize the place of Sikhs and other South Asians Americans in Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies, and to decry the targeting of Sikh and South Asian Americans.