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Let’s Not Forget That The Wisconsin Shooting Didn’t Just Happen To Sikhs, It Happened To Americans, Too

August 7th, 2012 | 1 comment | Posted by Jen

I’ve been avoiding writing this post because the shooting in Wisconsin at a Sikh temple that left six innocent people dead has made me feel simultaneously furious and powerless, the worst kind of impotency, not only because it’s the second incident of mass gun violence in less than three weeks and lawmakers have simply thrown up their hands on that issue, but because the Wisconsin shooting seems to me to be the convergence of all of the insidious, paranoid, dehumanizing, and Otherizing rhetoric directed at people of color–whether they be undocumented immigrants or Muslims or the President of the United States–that’s been ramping up in our culture for years now.

The Wisconsin shooter has been identified as 40 year-old Army veteran Wade Michael Page, who was killed by police at the scene. Page has been described as a “skinhead,” “the leader of a racist white-power band,” and a “neo-Nazi” with ties to white supremacy. Meanwhile, Page’s victims are Sikh, brown-skinned and members of a peaceful religion that’s often confused with Islam, which has increasingly made them targets of racist hate crimes all over the country since 9/11.

A vandalized Sikh temple in Fresno, CA, 2004

The fact that Sikh Americans have to clarify that they’re members of a peaceful religion and justify their own innocence even when victims of a heinous violent crime speaks volumes about how many Americans view people of color in this country. This is the effect of the “show me your papers” mentality writ large. “Do you belong here” begets “Do you deserve to be here” begets “Do you deserve to be.”

And don’t get me started on how Muslim Americans factor into all of this. If the majority of Continue reading Let’s Not Forget That The Wisconsin Shooting Didn’t Just Happen To Sikhs, It Happened To Americans, Too

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