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Sikh educator reflects on decade since Oak Creek Temple shooting | WUWM 89.7 FM

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Mass shootings targeting marginalized groups continue to occur in this country. In May, separate shooters targeted a predominantly black neighborhood in Buffalo and a Taiwanese church in California.

On August 5, 2012, the Milwaukee area was the scene of a deadly hate crime when a white supremacist killed six people at the Wisconsin Sikh Temple in Oak Creek. The shooting horrified many people, including Shauna Singh Baldwin, who was heading towards the temple during the attack.

Over the past decade, Baldwin has worked to educate non-Sikhs about religion. She says it’s unusual for Sikhs to continue their outreach efforts because they don’t promote their faith.

“We are not an evangelical religion,” Baldwin says. “We are not proselytes. In fact, it’s a very personal thing — your relationship between you and the creator.

She organizes presentations in local communities to expound the principles of Sikhism, which is the fifth largest religion in the world. Baldwin explains to non-Sikhs the differences between Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus.

Baldwin says it’s also not about telling people to go against Muslims. “We don’t want to say we’re not Hindus or Muslims, so sue them. That’s not the idea either. So it was very difficult to find a message that didn’t say we’re not Muslims, go find the Muslims.”

According to the Sikh Coalition, 99% of Americans wearing turbans are Sikhs. His presentation illustrates the different styles of head coverings, including Afghan, Palestinian, Indian and Iranian turbans.

“We must continue to work to be creative, rather than destructive, in every part of our lives, every moment. This is what Muslims call ‘dhikr’ and we call ‘remembrance’ in our faith. We continue to say the name of the lord in order to remind us that we are one,” explains Baldwin.

She says the misconceptions people have about others in the United States are “simply religious illiteracy.”

LILY: Want to know more about Sikhism? Head to the New Book Collection at Oak Creek

Baldwin says, “That’s the saddest part. Not to say that it does not exist elsewhere as well. I’ve been a minority now in three countries and it’s not pretty to be a minority anywhere. But that doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying and we don’t keep interacting with people.

According to the National Sikh Campaign, a 2014 research study found that more than half of Sikh children experience bullying in schools. Two out of three turbaned children report being bullied, which is more than double the national average for all children.

“We thought believing in the Constitution of America was all it took to be American. And we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,” she says. “We must break bread together “We must unite, there is no hope. If we don’t, then we condemn ourselves to more of these mass shootings.”

Amid recent mass shootings that have targeted black and Taiwanese communities, Baldwin says it’s important for people to reach out.

As of May 27, there have been 214 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2022, according to Gun Violence Archive. Mass shootings totaled 269 in 2014.

“We cannot live in this kind of state of eternal suspicion towards our neighbours,” she adds. “It’s ridiculous. I think we’re going to go down if we don’t start doing the Sisyphus task of moving that rock up and reaching out.

Baldwin says she and others have been able to bridge some gaps, successfully helping Sikhs and non-Sikhs understand each other better.

But she says there is still work to be done. “We need to share our stories. We have to do everything we can, but everyone has to work at it. »