When comic W. Kamau Bell took an in-depth look at the Sikh community on his show, “United Shades of America,” the episode was widely praised by fans and advocacy groups. The episode recently also took home an Emmy Award at the recent Creative Arts Emmys in Los Angeles on September 8.

Supervising editor Bryan Eber was awarded the Emmy for Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured Reality Program last Saturday. “United Shades of America” explores race-based subcultures across America. Past episodes have examined groups including Puerto Ricans and Native Hawaiian communities.

The “United Shades” episode on Sikhs was said to be the first time that Sikh culture was observed so closely by the mainstream media. It all came about when Sikh Coalition co-founder, Harpreet Singh invited Bell to come down to Boston to learn more about the Sikh religion via Twitter. Singh wanted to show the world the truth and beauty behind the Sikh religion. Singh spoke of the meaning behind the Kakar, the turban, the kanga (comb) and more. The community is misunderstood and many Sikhs have been targeted in hate crimes after 9/11 because they are mistaken for being Muslims.

From Boston, Bell goes on a journey to meet many other prominent Sikh men and women like Yuba City, CA mayor Preet Didbal. Didbal spoke of what it was like to be the first female Sikh mayor in America, the large Sikh population in Yuba City, what it’s like being a Sikh woman and the various reactions from her own community. Actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia spoke of the changing view of what a “normal” American is and how he was assaulted after 9/11. Sikh Lawyer, award-winning filmmaker and faith leader Valerie Kaur was another prominent Sikh featured on the episode. Kaur was thrilled with the news that their episode won an Emmy.

The award-winning filmmaker spoke of how her grandfather came to America and her family history. Kaur also spoke of Balbir Singh Sodhi, a family friend who was the first person to be killed after 9/11. She spoke of how raw the pain of that day still is, but they have learned to forgive their family’s attacker.

“Forgiveness is not forgetting,” Kaur beautifully explains, “forgiveness is freedom from hate.”

Check out Kaur’s interview and the many other talented Sikhs featured in Bell’s show below:



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