Valarie Kaur: Shadow Generation

September 15, 2010

Author: Valarie Kaur

Source: The Huffington Post

Nine years ago today, the murder of a family friend changed the course of my life. His name was Balbir Singh Sodhi. Four days after 9/11, he was shot in the back in front of his gas station by a man who yelled when arrested, "I'm a patriot! Arrest me and let those terrorists run wild."

Sodhi was a turbaned Sikh man.

His murder, combined with thousands of hate incidents and crimes that broke out onto city streets in the days and weeks after 9/11, paralyzed me. As a twenty-year old Sikh American, I grew up with my mother singing mystical poems from the Sikh tradition, where women and men often wrap their long hair in turbans to mark their commitment as saint-soldiers, sworn to love God and serve others. But I also inherited my family's deep roots in American soil: my grandfather sailed by steamship from India to California to tame the dry Central Valley floor nearly 100 years ago, and I was born and raised on the land he farmed.