Valarie Kaur's Search for America After 9/11

April 3, 2007

Author: Roseanne Pereira

Source: Minnesota Public Radio

St. Paul, Minn. -- In September 2001, Valarie Kaur was a 20-year-old college junior, studying religion and international affairs. She planned to go to India to interview people about religious conflict.

Then, like millions of others, she saw the T.V. images of the world trade towers falling again and again. They were intercut with images of a bearded and turbaned Osama bin Laden.

"On the third day, I began to read the crawling on the bottom of the screen that read,'Sikh man killed in Mesa, Arizona in hate crime,' she says. "His name was Balbir Singh Sodhi. He was murdered in front of his gas station by a man who called himself a patriot. He was the first of an estimated 19 people killed in the aftermath of 9/11."

Kaur changed her travel plans. She set off across America instead.

Kaur is a third-generation Sikh-American. She wanted to teach others that the people she considered brothers and uncles were not scary just because they looked different.