Fifteen years have come and gone since the September 11 attacks.
What seemed, at the time, like a tragedy that would ultimately bring Americans together, has given way to the rise of racial prejudice, bigotry and violence against minority groups. While much of the hate has been aimed at Arabs and Muslims, Sikh Americans, too, have been targeted, often by those who associate their outward appearance with followers of Islam.
They make the crude assumption that turbans equal terrorism.
Right after 9/11, it was such a big tragedy that hit our home, and people saw those images on T.V.," said Dr. Jasbir Kang a Sikh physician living and working in Yuba City. "They saw Osama Bin Laden and his other associates who were terrorists, so they saw their turbans and they confused the Sikh-Americans with them."
This confusion led some to violence, resulting in the death of Sikhs across the United States.
"The only way to get rid of ignorance is by education," Kang told ABC10. "You can only get rid of darkness by light. Enlightenment. To me, enlightenment is knowledge. Not just about Sikhs, but about any new ideas. And you have to share the education and make people aware and educate them and enlighten them and get rid of this darkness in their minds."
It was this enlightenment, this education, I was pursuing when I traveled to Yuba City, home to the largest concentration of Sikhs in the United States. I wanted to know what it’s like being Sikh in the time of intolerance.
The video attached to this story has been edited from the original form that aired.