Nineteen Years Ago Today...

Nineteen years ago today, a Sikh father was murdered in front of his store in Mesa, Arizona by a man who called himself a patriot. Balbir Singh Sodhi became the first person killed in thousands of acts of hate in the aftermath of the horror of 9/11.

The stories of See No Stranger come to life in our award-winning film Divided We Fall. The film has been used on 300+ campuses to spark dialogue and reflection regarding hate, bigotry, and belonging. It is now available online for free and comes with up-to-date teacher´s guides and dialogue questions to use in your classroom, house of worship, or even your living room. Check out resources here. You can also order a DVD of the film on Amazon here.

Fifteen years after Balbir Sodhi’s murder, his brother Rana and Valarie Kaur did something that was previously unthinkable. They asked: Who is the one person we have not yet tried to love? They decided to call his murderer. Their conversation was recorded. Watch, read, and listen to their encounter in order to explore themes of forgiveness, reckoning, and reconciliation.

Grieving and Awakening

“You may say: It’s too much — all this grief, all this violence and injustice, it’s too hard. You are right: The mind can comprehend one death, but it cannot comprehend thousands, especially when one’s own community, nation, or ancestors played some part in causing the death. Mother Theresa once said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.” And so, begin with one. Can you choose one person to practice wondering about? Can you listen to the story they have to tell? If your fists tighten, or your heart beats fast, or if shame rises to your face, it’s ok. Breath through it. Trust that you can. The heart is a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it becomes.”  –– Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger: a Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love

Last week, the death toll from the novel coronavirus surpassed 65,000 in the United States. We believe that grieving together is frontline social justice work. But how do we grieve together when are physically distant?

WATCH our virtual event on grieving and awakening here.

My teammate Melissa Canlas and I were joined by more than six hundred of you in our virtual gathering. Together, we created a container to explore what it looks like to grieve during this pandemic. Anchored by the music of our movement sister, Ari Afsar, we allowed ourselves the breath and space to feel in to the grief we had been holding in our own bodies.

We explored the many waves of grief we may be facing. In addition to our personal losses we are faced with the reality that this virus is disproportionately killing black people, devastating indigenous communities on reservations and the poor. In less than a month’s time, we have seen 1500 reported hate incidents targeting our Asian American brothers, sisters, and siblings. And so we breathed to grieve with communities who have long suffered in the United States. And we embraced what we have learned from our ancestors – that grieving together is a political act. For when we learn to be with the pain of vulnerable communities, we are also gaining the information necessary to fight for them.

Some were surprised by where they found the grief living in their body, while others awakened to waves of grief unrelated to this moment but activated by the heaviness of the current reality. Some were inspired by their experience to write poetry, still others found rage closely connected with their grief. No matter the experience, we allowed for it all. It was a powerful, life-giving evening. For with grief, there is no fixing it, only bearing it. And even in this time of physical distancing, we can find ways to bear it together. Grieving together is an act of revolutionary love.

Thank you to all of you who participated in cultivating this sacred space and time together. Deep gratitude to our partners at Dream Corp. for co-hosting these gatherings with us.

We are excited to announce that our next gathering is happening this month. Sign-up for the next virtual gathering on May 14th.

You are not alone. We are in this together.


You are invited to our third Virtual Gathering on Thursday, May 14th. Joined by Dr. Melissa Canlas, Valarie will orient us to the historical moment, read an excerpt from her forthcoming book, lead a practice and host a live Q&A. We encourage you to pre-order SEE NO STRANGER: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love.
All are welcome.

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We shared your love and solidarity in Christchurch

One year ago, in the aftermath of the mass shootings inside mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, we partnered with Auburn Seminary’s digital platform Groundswell Movement and collected more than 13,000 messages expressing our shared grief and moral outrage. Thousands of people in the United States and around the world joined together and pledged to stand up for each other and to call out hate in all its forms. This is the story of what happened next.

Dear Friends,

My name is Amy Olrick, and I work with Valarie Kaur and our team at the Revolutionary Love Project. I also live in New Zealand, and today we remember one of the darkest days in this country’s history.

On March 15, 2019, during Friday prayers, a white supremacist gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch. He killed 51 people and injured 49 more. In the wake of the tragedy, thousands of you sent in messages, prayers, and letters of love and solidarity for the Muslim community.

A few months after the shooting, Mustafa Farouk, the president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand, invited us to a meeting of the Waikato Muslim Association in Hamilton, New Zealand. We compiled the messages into a book, and one Sunday night, I was welcomed into a room crowded with people and invited to speak. I read curiosity on people’s faces, along with understandable wariness. As an American, my presence there was certainly a reminder of the exported hate that had fueled the recent violence.

I told the community members that I was there on behalf of all of us, then I explained our letter project and began reading our collective pledge and some of your personal messages out loud:

To the Muslim families of New Zealand:

We mourn with you in the aftermath of this horrific white supremacist mass shooting and act of terrorism. You are not alone. We stand with you. We weep with you. We will not forget your loved ones. In their name, we pledge to rise up against white supremacy — in our institutions, on our streets, online, in our homes, and in our own hearts.

I mourn and grieve the losses and horrendous tragedy and join you in solidarity to rise up against all forms of hatred and white supremacy.
— Jennifer

An attack on any one of us is an attack on all of us. My deepest sympathies to the affected families & the country of New Zealand.
— Justine

In solidarity of compassion and grief at this time. Offering my commitment to peace making and nonviolence as core community values.

As a minority person in America, every day that I live is a fight against racism and white supremacy.
— LaVania

As a Jew and child of Abraham, my heart is broken at the slaughter of my cousins.
— Karen

We are with you.

As a Christian, I believe in loving everyone because we are all God’s children. We cannot stand for hatred. Praying for all those touched by this horrible tragedy, and sending love and support.
— Hilary

An attack on one member of the human family is an attack on all. We must stand together in the face of hate and terrorism.
— Claire

From the other side of the globe, heartbroken for the hate that our national leadership foments, standing with you in grieving and solidarity.
— Nancy

I handed the book to Mustafa and closed with these words:

“On one dark day in Christchurch, a gunman blinded by hate sought to steal all of our humanity. Your community’s was a physical taking—he stole the lives of your beloveds. He sought to dehumanize the rest of us by planting seeds of fear and division so deep that he would rip us apart. He, and white supremacists like him, want us to be too scared or silent to act. He wanted us to forget that we belong to each other. That we are always stronger together.

Your community’s leadership, your love, and your steadfastness in the face of this trauma have offered us a different invitation. You have welcomed us in, and by allowing the people of the United States and the world to mourn with you, you have made us all stronger. Thank you for letting us join our heartbreak with your own. If we stand together, hate and violence will never be stronger than revolutionary love. This book is a small part of the love that so many around the world have for you. We hope you will accept as a symbol that will never stop working to create a world in which all of our children can live in peace, without fear.”

The atmosphere of the room changed as I spoke. As I read your messages out loud, I saw wonder and incredulity on people’s faces. In the eyes of the women, I saw tears that matched my own.

Mustafa accepted our book and promised to take it Christchurch and share it with the mosques and communities there. On behalf of FIANZ, he later sent us this message:

Assalamu Alaikum – May Peace be with you.

On behalf of the Muslims of New Zealand, and our national umbrella organization, The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ), I wish to thank The Revolutionary Love Project organization and its volunteers and supporters for the 13,000 messages of love and solidarity for Muslim families in New Zealand that you collected and compiled into a book and handed to us almost a year ago.

As we approach the anniversary of the Christchurch shootings and as we make arrangements in major cities of New Zealand to remember the horrendous event and those who were immediately impacted, I just want to take this moment to reach out to those who stood side by side with us during the difficult moment in the immediate aftermath of the shootings. The Revolutionary Love Project organization is one we will never forget.

I want you to know that your messages of aroha are helping the victims in Christchurch with their healing process and will remain forever a reminder that there are overwhelmingly more people in this world that choose love and humanity over hate. Following the Christchurch event, our country experienced strong connectivity between all her various ethnicities and religions, going forward, it is this experience we are trying to strengthen in New Zealand and export to the rest of the world. We hope The Revolutionary Love Project will help us with this goal.

May God Almighty Grant all of you who sent those messages and the rest of us and our communities and countries safety, peace, happiness and prosperity.

Thank you. Yours sincerely,
Dr Mustafa Farouk President FIANZ


To all of those who wrote and expressed solidarity—your message was heard and felt, and your voice mattered. My colleagues and I are very grateful to be in this work with you.

In a time of fear and disconnection, may this story offer an example of the connection that is possible across great distances. Together we can find ways to build a world where we see no stranger, transformed by revolutionary love.

In Chardi Kala,
Amy, Valarie, and the Revolutionary Love Project Team

We shared your love at the border

For last year’s #ReclaimLove campaign on Valentine’s Day, we invited you to write letters of love and solidarity to people who most needed to hear from us. So many of you answered the call. Parents and children, students and teachers, artists and activists, and faith leaders. We were overwhelmed by your handmade Valentines and love letters. We received hundreds and hundreds of cards for migrant families and children in particular.

Today we want to tell you the story of how we shared some of your love at the border this week. Then we invite you to join us as we come together and raise our voices again.

On Tuesday, Revolutionary Love teammates Valarie Kaur and Julianna Piazzola gathered your cards and traveled across the U.S.- Mexico border into Tijuana. They visited Madre Asunta – a long-established shelter for women and children fleeing persecution. The shelter had thirty-five women, most of them mothers, and twenty-five children who were fleeing the most horrific kinds of persecution – traffickers, abusive spouses, and gang members who have threatened to kill them.

As the women and children sat down to eat together, the senior nun La Hermana introduced Valarie and Julianna. Valarie said:

“There are thousands of people in the United States who are thinking of you right now, who care about you. We are sorry for the cruelty of our government and its policies. On Friday, we have a holiday in America called Valentine’s Day, a day of love. So people have written you letters and cards to show you that we love you. And because we love you, we will fight for you. You are our sisters and brothers. Your children are our children. When you feel alone, we hope you can look at their cards and know that you are never alone. We are by your side.”

Credit: Alliance San Diego

A mother in the front of the room began to weep. Soon many mothers wiped away tears. Valarie and Julianna wept with them and passed out the letters and cards. Children took the cards with big smiles. Mothers embraced them and said thank you.

“It’s just a grain of sand,” Valarie said to them.

“But it’s important,” said a mother in Spanish. “It’s an important grain of sand.”

Credit: Alliance San Diego

Valarie and Julianna left the bag of letters with La Hermana, the senior sister of the shelter. The letters are now making their rounds to all the major shelters in Tijuana and they are being delivered to hundreds of mothers, children, and families. It was such a simple gesture, a small offering, and yet more powerful than any of us could have imagined.

Many of these women and children are seeking asylum in the United States. They would typically be going through this process in the U.S. But the Trump administration has implemented the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), otherwise known as the Migrant Persecution Protocols or the “Remain in Mexico” program. Under this program, 60,000 asylum-seekers who have presented themselves at the border have been forced back across the border to Mexico – where they are still in danger and their persecutors can find them. MPP is widely condemned as a horrific policy that has manufactured a humanitarian crisis. Together we all took one small step to show these mothers and children that they are not forgotten.

In the revolutionary love framework, the first act of love is wonder – to draw close to another and hear their stories and grieve with them, because in sharing in their pain, we gain the information we need to fight with and for them.

Scroll down for more information about how to push on in love and solidarity for the parents and children you held in your love this week.

Now it’s time to get loud.

We believe love is the only force powerful enough to protect our communities. And that we build the beloved community by becoming the beloved community. And so we are joining together.

For #ReclaimLove this year, we are focusing on a social media campaign that spreads the message of Revolutionary Love while inviting people to come together to learn and connect.

Valarie Kaur’s book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love will be released in June and is available for preorder now.  The book will equip us and our movements with a framework to understand revolutionary love and tangible ways to practice it.

For a limited time, preorders of the book will include an invitation to a series of virtual gatherings lead by Valaire and cohosted by Dream Corps and the Revolutionary Love Project.

Read all about it at, preorder your copy and get your invitation to join the virtual gatherings, then help spread the word.

You’ll find everything you need to join us here.

Ready for More?

And a huge thank you to our friends at Alliance San Diego for organizing this trip and for reimagining what’s possible along our borders with a new border vision. Learn about Alliance San Diego here.

What 2020 Holds...

Dear Friends,

I am so grateful for what we accomplished together this year! We reached 10,000+ people in events and workshops across the country, equipping them to reclaim love as a force for justice. Our work reached a million more online. And we mobilized in solidarity for communities in harm’s way, including in the wake of mass shootings and at the border.

Now as we look to 2020, I have a message for you. Please watch my 2-minute video: 

In the next ten months, the actions we take, the words we choose, and the way we make change will determine our collective future. I believe that we have a chance to birth an America that has never been — a nation that is multiracial, multifaith, multicultural, and multigendered, a society that protects the dignity of every person. This culture shift is not only how we win the election. It’s how we transition America.

And so we want to stage a cultural intervention in 2020 — 

Imagine a critical mass of artists, activists, faith leaders, and thought leaders using their voice, art, music, stories, and platforms to call people to action with loveWe can shift consciousness from what we are fighting against to what we are laboring for. We can equip people to make love the ethic in more of our homes, schools, and movements. This is the work of the Revolutionary Love Project.

In the final stages of development right now: a book on revolutionary love + educational hub with curricula for educators, activists, and communities + original music from major artists + a nation-wide tour of live events in 2020. 

Will you make a donation to support this work? Every gift – $15, $50, or $500— will determine our scale & reach for 2020.

This year, we were awarded the Global Peacebuilder Award for our work, presented by United Religion Initiative at Stanford University. It was an honor. It also reminded us that our work has global impact. When you give, you are funding culture work that will inspire and ignite and spread.

If you are able to donate $15/month or more, we invite you to become a monthly donor as one of our Beloved 200. Click to learn more.

Thank you breathing and pushing with us!

Valarie + Amy, Kalia, Julianna, Melissa, Annette and Elizabeth

Here’s just some of what we’ve done together in 2019:

  • 550 partners + 120 thought leaders + 67,000 members engaged in online action campaigns throughout the year plus —
  • 1+ million people reached in our annual digital campaign with Dream Corps and partners to #reclaimlove as a force for justice on Valentine’s Day 2019
  • 10,000 messages of support delivered in person to grieving communities in the wake of mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand
  • 1,000+ letters of solidarity collected for former prisoners who are now returning citizens, survivors of opioid addiction, climate refugees, and migrant families separated at the border.
  • 3rd Annual Leadership Retreat for co-chairs of the Mai Bhago Leadership Circle to equip Sikh women justice leaders in partnership with Auburn Seminary
  • 14 live events on how to practice love in the face of hate and white nationalism, based on Valarie’s TED Talk “3 Lessons of Revolutionary Love in a Time of Rage” (2.6+ million views), including —
  • Inspiring dialogue on rage, reckoning and revolutionary love with our partner Eve Ensler, and music with Ani di Franco at the 4th Babefest in New Orleans, rooting our movement in joy

Here’s who we reached in events across the U.S. —

  • 7,000 K-12 educators & heads of schools committed to diversity and social justice
  • 1,200 entrepreneurs invested in social change gathering in the SF Bay Area and Los Angeles
  • 1,000+ faith leaders, including church leaders in the South and Midwest
  • 500 youth leaders and peace builders convening at the UNITED NATIONS
  • 100 artists and activists committed to using their platforms for cultural change
  • 60 philanthropists & heads of foundations strategizing for 2020
  • 13 cities including Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, Boston, New York City, Berkeley, San Francisco Bay Area, Montreat, and Salt Lake City

Are you one of our #Beloved200?

We are looking for 200 monthly donors to pledge $15/month to ensure basic operations far into the future. That’s it! Many think that we are a bigger organization that we are. Our projects have ranged from contributing to Emmy-award winning shows to curating hundreds of campus dialogues to mobilizing thousands in the political process. We’re a tiny team that relies on committed volunteers. And we make every cent stretch. 

If you want to see more of this vision in the world, can you become a Monthly Donor? Click here to donate $15/month and become one of our Beloved 200!

The Revolutionary Love Project envisions a world where love is a public ethic and shared practice in our lives and politics. We generate stories, tools, and thought leadership to equip people to practice the ethic of love in the fight for social justice.

Eighteen Years Ago Today...

Eighteen years ago today, a Sikh father was murdered in front of his store in Mesa, Arizona by a man who called himself a patriot. Balbir Singh Sodhi became the first person killed in thousands of acts of hate in the aftermath of the horror of 9/11. His murder marked the beginning of a new era of white supremacist violence that continues today.

Every year, educators show our documentary film Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath to teach students about Balbir Sodhi’s story and hate crimes in America. One professor told us that this was the first year her students were born after 9/11. More than ever, her students want to understand the history behind the hate seizing our nation today — and learn how to respond.

So — teachers, professors, and parents! We invite you to have brave discussions with your students this fall. Here are free educational resources that center Sikh American voices in films, stories, and toolkits. We invite you to use these materials and spread the word. Forward this email to the educators and parents in your life.

Scroll down to find:

  • Divided We Fall, the Award-Winning Film and Educational Curricula
  • A Case Study: Rana Sodhi Forgiving his Brother’s Murderer (PRI)
  • A Short Story: “Go Back to Your Country”
  • #NoMoreBystanders Guide
  • A Sikh American Back-to-School Toolkit (Sikh Coalition)
  • Three Ways to Take Political Action Now (SAALT)

Today we remember Balbir Uncle and the thousands of people who have been beaten, stabbed, shot, and killed at the hands of white supremacist terrorism — from Oak Creek to Charleston to Pittsburgh to Christchurch to El Paso.

We also remember all those who have been detained, deported, tortured, or killed by state-sanctioned policies in the name of patriotism and national security in the last eighteen years. The white nativist forces we see today has its roots in centuries of American history, and most immediately in the aftermath of 9/11.

So let us look to how our communities have risen up, organized, and responded to injustice with fierce, demanding revolutionary love.

Say their names.

Learn their stories.

Declare yourself an ally.

Teach the next generation.

– Valarie, Amy, Melissa, Julianna, Elizabeth, and the Revolutionary Love Fellows

What if this is not the darkness of the tomb but the darkness of the womb? Remember the wisdom of the midwife. Labor requires pain and love. Here are ways to breathe and push together…

Our award-winning film Divided We Fall explores hate, bigotry, and belonging in America in the aftermath of 9/11. For the last decade, the film has been used on 300+ campuses to spark dialogue and reflection. It is now available online for free and comes with up-to-date teacher´s guides and dialogues questions to use in your classroom, house of worship, or even your living room. Check out resources here. You can also order a DVD of the film on Amazon here.

On the fifteen-year anniversary of Balbir Sodhi’s murder, his younger brother Rana and advocate Valarie Kaur did something that was previously unthinkable. They asked: who is the one person we have not yet tried to love? They decided to call his murderer. You can hear their conversation here, a collaboration with PRI. Listen, watch, and read this exchange with your students in order to explore themes of restorative justice, forgiveness, reckoning, and reconciliation.

Short Story: “Go back to the country you came from!”

Read this true account of a recent incident with your students to spark dialogue:

She said it effortlessly, as if it was just in the air. She had only to reach out and grab hold of it and aim it at my father and son….

My parents came home shaken.

“Didn’t anyone speak up?” I asked.

“No one said anything,” my mom said, more upset by the bystanders than the assailant. There was a small crowd of about fifteen people watching. A few offered sympathies after the fact, but no one did anything while it happened. Just like last time, when my father was walking on the beach with my son, wearing a baby carrier, and a man called him “suicide bomber.” And the time before that, when I confronted a man shouting “sand-nigger” in our neighborhood restaurant. Each time, there were bystanders who did nothing.

#NoMoreBystanders Guide

In the face of spreading hate violence and cruelty, we must move beyond silence to action. We’ve compiled a list of resources and orgs working to educate people about how respond when others are targeted. Please read and share widely.

Check out this first-ever back to school toolkit brought to you by our partners at the Sikh Coalition. It offers critical resources to make classrooms a more safe and inclusive space for Sikh students.

Join our friends at SAALT in taking action:

  • Demand that your Member of Congress REJECT the creation of NEW domestic terrorism charges to fight white supremacy. This would only serve to further harm communities of color who have always been the targets of such policies.
  • Join the fight to repeal the Muslim Ban by supporting the No Muslim Ban Ever campaign and DEMAND Congress to pass the NO BAN Act. Stay tuned for more information on the September 24th Congressional hearing on the Muslim Ban.
  • URGE your Member of Congress to support the Khalid Jabara Heather Heyer NO HATE Act, a comprehensive bill that promotes more accurate hate crimes data collection and provide support for hate crime victims and their families. It is named in honor of two recent victims of hate crimes, whose deaths were omitted from the FBI hate crimes statistics.

The Revolutionary Love Project envisions a world where love is a public ethic and shared practice in our lives and politics. We generate stories, tools, and thought leadership to equip people to practice the ethic of love in the fight for social justice.

#NoMoreBystanders: Resources and Trainings

In the face of spreading hate violence and cruelty, we must move beyond silence to action. The Revolutionary Love Project has compiled a list of resources and organizations working to educate people about how respond when others are targeted. Please read and share widely.

“What’s worse than being targeted with harassment because of your race, sex, religion, color, gender, size, orientation, disability, age, or origin? Being targeted while surrounded by bystanders who see what is happening, but then do nothing.” – Hollaback


Hollaback is a global, people-powered movement to end harassment. They help people to be vigilant and aware of what harassment, bias incidents, and hate violence look like in order to be able to stand up and intervene at a time when people need it most.

American Friends Service Committee

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action. In partnership with Standing Up for Racial Justice, Black Lives Matter, Jewish Voices for Peace and others, they have created a 4-minute video with 6 tips on how to respond when you see violence and aggression.

  1. Be more than a bystander,
  2. Document the incident
  3. Support the victim by sticking around
  4. Avoid the police
  5. Call out the everyday culture of white supremacy
  6. Organize and protest for justice.


Maeril (@itsmaeril) is an artist working with Middle Eastern Feminist. Her graphic on responding to Islamophobia can be applied to a broad range of bystander situations.

Oak Creek, 7 years later

What if we each of us chose to act?

Today, seven years ago, a white supremacist opened fire in a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, WI. It was the worst anti-Sikh attack in U.S. history. Many of you joined my community as we grieved and organized and rose up in Chardi Kala, ever-rising spirits. We vowed to prevent another Oak Creek from ever happening again. But America as a whole did not make that vow with us. Our government did not marshall the resources to combat white nationalist violence as a serious threat. Nor did we have a national conversation about hate and white supremacy in our homes, schools, and halls of power. America forgot Oak Creek.

Seven years later — Today we are grieving the dead in El Paso, the largest anti-Latino attack in U.S. history, and Dayton, where the motive is not yet known. Just as we grieved after Charleston and Pittsburgh and Christchurch and Poway. White nationalists now belong to a violent transnational network, where one attack inspires another. We could never have imagined that Oak Creek would become the first of many white supremacist mass shootings on brown, black, and Jewish communities in the last decade.

We have seen many Oak Creeks. We will see more unless —

What if we each of us chose to act? What if faith leaders everywhere denounced white supremacy? What if educators taught tools for how to combat it in our institutions and in our consciousness? What if advertisers refused to sponsor programming that gave white nationalism a platform? What if banks refused to finance white nationalist orgs? What if tech companies removed their platforms? What if lawmakers kept semiautomatic assault-style weapons out of their hands? What if we organized to unseat every elected leader who espoused violent white nationalist rhetoric, starting with the current President? What if cities held truth and reconciliation commissions about the history of white supremacy, starting with the genocide of indigenous communities? What if each of us believed that we had an essential role in this fight? What if we helped each other show up?

Might we as a people prevent future Oak Creeks?

I renew my vow today. Please join me. Share the story of Oak Creek.

In honor of: Paramjit Kaur, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Suveg Singh Khattra, Ranjit Singh, Sita Singh, Prakash Singh, and Baba Punjab Singh who remains unable to move or speak since the shooting. And all those we have lost since. #RememberOakCreek #ElPasoStrong #ChardiKala

— Revolutionary Love Founder Valarie Kaur

Happy Vaisakhi!

A message from Revolutionary Love Project founder, Valarie Kaur:

HAPPY VAISAKHI! This weekend, millions of Sikhs around the world are celebrating one of the most important historic and religious festivals in our faith. Here’s the story, as it was passed down to me...

Our first teacher and founder of the Sikh faith Guru Nanak called us to a life of love and service: “If you want to play the game of love with me, step forth with your head on your hand.” Two hundred years later, our tenth teacher Guru Gobind Singh Ji put us to the test.

In April 1699, Guru Gobind Singh called Sikhs to a clearing in a place in Northern India called Anandpur Sahib. It was a time of crisis. The Sikh community was struggling to survive onslaught at the hands of Mughal rulers. Our numbers were dwindling, and the future was dark.

There stood the Guru - a warrior dressed in a tall turban, sword in hand, often seen with a falcon on his shoulder. He rose before the thousands with fire in his eyes, and called out: “Who among you is ready to give your head for the love of God and one another?” The crowd was silent. The wind rustled, and the people did not move - until one brave soul, Daya, stepped forward.

The Guru took Daya inside a tent and a few moments later, emerged with his sword dripping with blood, and called: “Now, who else is ready to give their head for love?” Not a word was spoken. The wind rustled, and the people did not move. Until courage stirred within another, Dharam, and he stepped forward and entered the tent. The Guru emerged once again with the same call, again and again, until five had offered their lives. The Guru appeared once more, but this time, he opened the tent for all to see - and there they stood. They were all alive and well, but they were changed.

“These are my Panj Pyare,” said the Guru. “My five beloved ones. These are the ones who were willing to offer their body, breath, and blood for the sake of love.” The Guru gave them new names and anointed them, and was anointed by them in return. The death of their egos had birthed them anew.

On that day, we as a community were also birthed anew. We too shed our old separate names and were given new names - Singh and Kaur, lion and lioness - to honor our equality and courage. We received the gift of five articles of faith, including long uncut hair, which men and some women wrap in a turban, so that we may never hide from the call to serve again.

That is the story of Vaisakhi — our birth as the Khalsa, a spiritual sister and brotherhood, a collective body of beloved ones. We were taught to live as Sant-Sipahi, warrior-saints devoted to service and social justice. Not out of duty but out of love — a love so deep that we would give even our lives for it. Our long hair and turbans were worn precisely so that we could be seen — so that you could come to us in your time of need and we would give our lives to help you. At least this was the idea.

These days in America, hate crimes are at an all-time high, our turbans still cast us as terrorists, and it is a courageous act just for a Sikh to walk out the door. And yet many of us still manage to practice the call of our faith — to love others even when they hate us, to fight for others even when we are bleeding, to insist on Chardi Kala, ever-rising high spirits even in the darkness.

So today I wonder: What if everyone knew the story of Vaisakhi and why Sikhs wear turbans? What if we knew one another’s stories the way we know our own? Might we begin to see one another the way we see ourselves?

Let’s find out. Share this story.

#HappyVaisakhi #RevolutionaryLove

[Painting by ArtofPunjab - Sikh Art by Kanwar Singh]


Christchurch Massacre: Urgent Call for Solidarity

Dear Friends,

On Friday afternoon, white supremacists opened fire in multiple mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. So far, we know that at least 49 people were killed and more than 20 seriously wounded in an act of "extremist right wing violent terrorism." Our hands tremble with the horror at this bloodshed in a sacred space. How do we show up right now in Revolutionary Love? Through our tears, we must act swiftly.

Send a message of love and solidarity to the Muslim families of Christchurch.

We will make sure that your words are delivered to the families and survivors.

To our Muslim sisters, brothers, and siblings: We know that this news is sending waves of grief in households across New Zealand, the United States, and around the world. We mourn with you. We share your outrage. We are breathing with you. We will not leave your side. We will not forget those who were slaughtered. In their name, we pledge to rise up against white supremacy -- in our institutions, on our streets, online, in our homes, and in our own hearts.

To all who feel helpless right now: Hate on this scale feels like looking into the abyss. But we are not powerless. In the wake of recent mass shootings in Pittsburgh, Charleston, and Oak Creek, we worked with Auburn Seminary to collect tens of thousands of letters and prayers of support, which were then bound and delivered in person to the survivors and families. In Oak Creek, the books are still preserved in the gurdwara's library. Long after the media trucks leave, these physical embodiments of solidarity show the community we will not leave their side. Our movements are only as strong as our solidarity is deep.

In sending messages specifically to the Muslim families of Christchurch, we are rising up in one voice to express our grief and moral outrage. We recognize that white nationalism is a global epidemic. This massacre was the result of white nationalist ideologies that we all have the power to eradicate. As we grieve, so too we pledge to take action to dismantle white supremacy in our institutions and cultures.

The massacre took place at a time mosques are filled with people who gather for Friday prayers. It was fueled by the same hate that led to mass shootings against other communities of color in their houses of worship in the United States -- Sikhs in the gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, African Americans in Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, and Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Right now, Muslim and Sikh Americans are preparing for heightened security at our houses of worship across the U.S. this weekend. We need your support more than ever:

1. Send a message of love and solidarity to the Muslim families of Christchurch.
2. Call or text a friend who is Muslim or Sikh. Let them know they are not alone.
3. Visit a mosque or gurdwara near you and leave a sign or flowers to show your love and solidarity.
4. Donate to the victims and families of this massacre.
5. Show up to a solidarity event in your community - friends at Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice have put together an event list, searchable by zip code: Click here to find an event

If people in your life are hurting right now and need this message, please forward this email to them. This is a time to take one another's hand. We hold yours.

- Valarie, Amy, Elizabeth, and the Revolutionary Love Fellows

Write a message or prayer of love and support to the families and survivors of the shooting. 

In the wake of the mass shootings in Pittsburgh, Charleston, and Oak Creek, we worked with Auburn Seminary to collect tens of thousands of letters and prayers of support, which were then bound and delivered in person to the survivors and families. In Oak Creek, the books are still preserved in the gurdwara's library. Long after the media trucks leave, these physical embodiments of solidarity show the community we will not leave their side. Click above to write your message. And donate to the LaunchGood fund set up to support victims and families.