It could have been me. Easily. Move the location 1.4 miles east, go back 14 years and I could have had the same experience as Gurprit Kaur.

Mind you, both Gurprit and I went to public schools in one of the most diverse cities in the world. Most of my friends were curiously open-minded. Yet, the evils of harassment and ignorance crept up in some from time to time. There were a few kids who’d nervously laugh as they asked “so what would happen if we took this scissor and snipped your hair?” And I’d look them in the eye as I sternly replied “that isn’t funny; you know why I don’t cut my hair so keep your scissors away from me.” I guess the look I gave and tone of my voice was enough to help them distinguish right from wrong.

Stern looks and terse voices don’t have much effect anymore. Or any effect for that matter. On June 8, 2008, one of Gurprit Kaur’s classmates intentionally cut three inches of her braid as she sat in her English class. Stern looks and terse voices don’t seem to catch the attention of local and national media either. Either the media is unaware of the blatant infringement of Gurprit Kaur’s rights or has deemed the story un-newsworthy. Type “Gurprit Kaur,” “P.S. 219” or any combination thereof in search engines and you’ll end up empty handed. Seems completely ridiculous as this is the third instance of physical harassment and religious discrimination towards Sikh children within a year, the last one taking place five days prior to Gurprit’s unfortunate attack.

The Sikh Coalition has recognized the lack of attention and is taking matters into their own hands by organizing a march to push the New York Department of Education to end bias-based harassment of Sikh children in city schools. Help the Coalition in our community’s collective efforts by joining in “Sikhs of New York City to March for Sikh Children” on Monday, June 30. We can’t have our young ones practice their faith in fear any longer. Take a peek at the flyer below for more information:

Many, many thanks to organizing/activist extraordinare Sundeep Singh for spreading the word.

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