SALDEF’s Turban Myths report, a groundbreaking study conducted in conjunction with researchers from Stanford University served as a benchmark to launch SALDEF’s Media Initiative, which aims to amplify the voices of Sikh Americans. Turban Myths was the first public perception assessment of Sikh Americans. The study corroborated the existence of a specific cultural bias and its impact on Sikh Americans’ experiences.
Turban Myths demonstrated to Sikh Americans that while our community represents quintessential American values of freedom, justice, and equality, many of our neighbors still may not know us. SALDEF partnered with the largest national media company, Comcast, to launch a 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) featuring Sikh Americans from all walks of life, bringing our shared values with fellow Americans to the forefront. As Waris Ahluwalia, a renowned Sikh American designer and actor says, “For over 125 years, Sikhs have been part of the American culture. My name is Waris, and I’m proud to be an American.” The 400,000+ airings represent $3.6 million in airtime from Comcast.
In order to maintain a strong and consistent presence in the media, the SALDEF communications team:
- Proactively shares stories of Sikh Americans
- Represents Sikh Americans’ point of view on the news and trends shaping our nation
- Serves as a resource for journalists who need data or background on Sikh Americans and/or the Sikh faith
- Monitors and responds to misrepresentations of Sikh Americans and Sikh theology
As part of this work, SALDEF maintains a Speakers’ Bureau of subject matter experts in the Sikh American community. SALDEF also supports Sikh advocacy and community groups in their communications year-round.
SALDEF developed a Rapid Response Plan to support communities through scenarios that require an immediate media response, and is currently deploying training across the country. If you are a Sikh community member who would like to receive this plan as a reference, please contact us.
One example of SALDEF’s RRP in action was SALDEF’s support of Dr. Prabhjot Singh in 2013 after he was attacked, due to his appearance, near his home, in New York City. SALDEF collaborated with the New York-based Sikh Coalition and led a media relations strategy with the inclusion of a press conference that allowed Singh to share his values and his love of his neighborhood with the press, while ensuring that his family remained safe.
Watch a short video of former SALDEF Executive Director Jasjit Singh discussing our media initiative: