Turban Myths

Stanford University’s Peace and Innovation Lab partnered with SALDEF to conduct the first-ever national survey of the public perception of Sikh Americans and their articles of faith, Turban Myths: The Opportunities and Challenges for Reframing Sikh American Identity in Post-9/11 America. This study corroborates, through literary review and data analysis, the existence of a specific cultural bias and its impact on the real, daily lived experiences of the Sikh American community. Key findings of the research include:

  • Bias exists against the Sikh American articles of faith, including the turban, beard, and uncut hair.
  • 70% of the American public cannot identify a picture of a Sikh man as a Sikh.
  • About half of the public associates the turban with Islam and believes that Sikhism is a sect of Islam
  • Anti-turban bias exists even among people with a greater knowledge of Sikhs.
  • The media contributes to and fuels the bias against the Sikh articles of faith.
  • Bias is unconscious, charged by emotion, and reinforced by the environment.
  • The Sikh American community and experience remain an understudied population.

The report details these findings and the impact they have on the lives of Sikh Americans. It lays out the foundation of a national multimedia and community capacity development strategy to introduce Sikh Americans and the Sikh articles of faith to the American public, and turn them into a fixture in the American consciousness of our shared values of equality, freedom, and justice for all. Click here to read the report.

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