Thank you for your interest and support of the
Anti-Defamation League. In the words of the late, great John Lennon, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one; I hope someday you’ll join me and the world can live as one.” While these words are not part of ADL’s mission statement, they do capture the vision of the organization. The Anti-Defamation League is a civil rights organization whose mission statement includes, “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair-treatment for all.” ADL does this all the time, every day.
We are ADL when we treat others respectfully. We are ADL when we stand up for others. We are ADL when we hear prejudice and bias and address it, even if it is difficult or uncomfortable. We are ADL when we teach our children and grandchildren to get involved and to help stand up to bullying. We are ADL when we work with schools and legislators to put programs in place to protect all students against cyberbullying. And we are ADL when we support and advocate for victims of hate.
Rana Sohdi is one of many individuals who have been helped by ADL. AND ADL’s assistance has inspired him to help others. Here’s his story in his words:
My story is an immigrant story of endurance since 9/11, as
waves of deadly hate crimes and backlash targeted the Sikh American community. The turban and beard worn by those of the Sikh faith, including myself, somehow
became a symbol of America’s new enemy. Four of my brothers and I fled to the United States in the
mid-eighties to escape political and religious violence in Punjab, India. In this time of our lives, it was difficult to find jobs in India because of the hatred amongst Hindus and Sikhs. After years of working and saving money
in California, my brothers and I opened our own Indian restaurant in 1987 in Phoenix, Arizona. Soon after, we began to open gas stations throughout the valley. One of our first gas stations was in Mesa, Arizona. My older brother Balbir Singh Sodhi managed the gas station and was a liked and respected member of the community. However, soon after, my dear brother, Balbir, a practicing
Sikh who also wore a turban and a beard, became America’s first post-9/11 hate crime murder victim. On September 15, 2001, a man named Frank Roque, who
claimed he was rooting out a terrorist, gunned down Balbir on the forecourt of his gas station. I was left in shock.
After the death of my dear brother, I was in deep depression.It astonished me that a country known for its diversity and freedom had citizens who could kill because of the way others look. But my pain didn’t stopthere. The following August of 2002, I learned that my next oldest brother Sukhpal Singh Sodhi, a cab driver in San Francisco, had been shot and killed in his taxi. Although police suggested that Sukhpal had been caught in a gang fight, I still believe that his dead was also a hate crime. At this point of my life I was deeply saddened. The stories of people getting beat up or threatened because of the way they looked, became more prominent. Something had to be
done. The violence was getting out of hand.
They say in the darkest moment, one should always follow the light. My light was my community. One day, a man by the name of Bill Straus, came up to me and encouraged me to speak for myself. For once I felt that someone actually cared about my story. Bill introduced me to the Anti-Defamation League, and their fight for all form of bigotry. In times of need, they gave me a helping hand and sympathy and the ability to get my message across.
Because of this, I am now actively involved in various facets of the community including the Sikh Advisory Board to Law enforcement, the Global Sikh Alliance and the Phoenix Community Engagement and Outreach Task
Force. Also, I reach out and support the activities of the Anti-Defamation League that have made it their business to thwart hatred and who have helped me educate others. My passion to assist victims of hatred was greatly honored by
President Obama when he invited me as a guest to the First “State Whitehouse Dinner” in honor of the visiting Sikh Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Today I feel I am not the same person what was before 9/11 All my life change by most of ADL and Bill Straus love and respect and encouragement .I feel proud I am family of ADL.