Co-blogged with Sundari Kaur of The Langar Hall
Of recent and recurring discussion on The Langar Hall and American Turban has been the election race in California’s 9th Congressional District (map). For Sikh Americans, this district’s race is significant.
Located in northern California, the 9th Congressional District contains America’s oldest and one of its largest Sikh American communities. The oldest Gurdwara in the United States (which only a couple of weeks ago celebrated its centennial anniversary) is located in this District in Stockton, California. America’s first Asian American and Sikh American member of Congress, Dalip Singh Saund, once resided in this area, and one of the candidates currently running is himself a Sikh American.
Given the unique character of the District, we are interested to know the thoughts of the main candidates of the district on the issues affecting their current and potential Sikh American constituents, many of whom have been active in supporting each of the candidates. It is our plan to publish these answers by each candidate to learn more about their positions on issues affecting Sikh Americans.
With election day in the US nearing, we have asked the main candidates — incumbent Representative Jerry McNerney and Republican challenger Ricky Gill — to offer their thoughts on Sikh American issues. We are aware that important concerns of the general public on issues like jobs, healthcare, or social issues are often already asked of the candidates, but that their positions on Sikh American issues are not asked of them. Accordingly, these questions reflect Sikh American concerns that do not get the same attention from mainstream media.
The questions that we have sent to the campaigns of Jerry McNerney and Ricky Gill are below the fold, and on Tuesday, October 30, we will publish the responses from each campaign.
Questions for Rep. Jerry McNerney and Ricky Gill:
1. Sikh Americans report enduring profiling at airports around the United States by law enforcement.
a. Do you support the proposed federal End Racial Profiling Act?
b. Do you support adding a prohibition on profiling on the basis of religion to the United States Justice Department’s 2003 Guidance on Racial Profiling?
2. School bullying acutely affects Sikh American school children. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reports that up to 3/4s of Sikh school children experience bullying and harassment in schools.
a. Do you support the proposed federal Safe Schools Improvement Act?
3. In the United States, Sikh Americans are officially barred from service in the US military unless they remove religiously-mandated turban and cut religiously-mandated hair. Over the past three years the United States Army made one-time, individual exemptions for three Sikh soldiers so that they could maintain their religious-mandated turbans and hair. Similarly, the Washington DC Police Department made a change in policy to allow any Sikh police officer to serve with his or her turban and uncut hair.
a. Do you support a change in United States military policy so that any Sikh would be able to serve without having to remove their religiously-mandated turbans and unshorn hair?
b. Would you encourage law enforcement agencies in your Congressional district allowing Sikhs to serve as police officers without removing their religiously-mandated turbans and unshorn hair?
4. Hate crimes, exemplified by the recent massacre in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where a white supremacist entered a Sikh house of worship and murdered six Sikh worships, acutely affects the Sikh community. The Federal Bureau of Investigation however does not presently track hate crimes against Sikhs.
a. Do you believe the Federal Bureau of Investigation should track hate crime against Sikhs?
[Cross-posted on The Langar Hall]