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August 6th, 2012
06:10 PM ET

Police identify Army veteran as Wisconsin temple shooting gunman

By the CNN Wire Staff

Oak Creek, Wisconsin (CNN) - An Army veteran who neighbors say played in a far-right punk band was the lone shooter in the rampage at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin that killed six people and wounded four, according to information Monday from law enforcement authorities.

Wade Michael Page, 40, was shot to death by police responding to the Sunday morning attack in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, the community's chief of police told reporters.

It was the latest violence against the Sikh community in the United States in apparent misdirected revenge for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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Opinion: Why focus on Gabby Douglas' hair?
After her historic win, gymnastics all-around gold medalist Gabby Douglas faced criticism about her hair.
August 6th, 2012
02:20 PM ET

Opinion: Why focus on Gabby Douglas' hair?

Editor's Note: Tiya Miles is chairwoman of the Department of Afro-American and African Studies and professor of history and Native American studies at the University of Michigan. She is the author of "Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom" and "The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story." She is also the winner of  a 2011 genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

By Tiya Miles, Special to CNN

When Gabby Douglas stood on the Olympic podium Thursday, a bright smile on her face and gold medal around her neck, she made history as the first African-American woman to win top honors in the all-around gymnastics competition.

Many African-Americans watching Douglas shared a flush of pride at the accomplishment, noting her joy, her poise, her grace and, apparently, her hairstyle.

I heard about this latter preoccupation from my sister, who swept into town for a weekend visit and opened with, “Have you heard that mess about Gabby’s hair? Type in ‘Gabby Douglas hair’ on Google; you’ll see.” I was dismayed to find a string of posts by African-American women and men debating Douglas’ hairstyle and the perceived imperfection that while her hair was straightened, parts of it had turned visibly kinky during her performance.

The fascination with natural African-American hair

Twitter and Facebook commenters and callers on black talk radio shows questioned whether her hair was too straight or too kinky, whether it was over-gelled or under-tamed, and what she should have done with that floppy bun. My sister, who thought this barrage of criticism was a “mess,” threw in the final comment: “All right, I admit if I was her mother, I would have put a headband on the girl, but really, who cares?”

A significant number of people, if the list my Google search returned is any indication. Why were some African-Americans fixated on hair at a moment that should have been set aside to savor a grand achievement? FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • History • How we look • What we think • Women
August 6th, 2012
11:56 AM ET

Opinion: Today, we are all American Sikhs

Editor's note: Valarie Kaur is the founding director of Groundswell, an initiative at Auburn Seminary that combines storytelling and advocacy to mobilize faith communities in social action. Her documentary "Divided We Fall" examines hate crimes against Sikh Americans after 9/11. Kaur studied religion and law at Stanford University, Harvard Divinity School and Yale Law School, where she now directs the Yale Visual Law Project. Follow her on Twitter: @valariekaur.

By Valarie Kaur, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Today, the day after the tragic shootings near Milwaukee, the fog will begin to lift. Just as after Columbine and Aurora, we will hear the names of the suspect and victims. We will learn more about the motive and imagine the nightmare that unfolded within those walls. In the past, hearing these horrific details would be enough to bring us together in national unity. But that will not be enough today.

Today, we are called to do more. We are called to do the hard work of listening.

If we really want to unite in response to this national tragedy, we need to know whom we are embracing. For many, this means learning about Sikh Americans for the first time - and listening closely to what's at stake. For me, the mass shooting is not just about how to keep guns out of the hands of a murderous few. It's also about my community's sacrifice in the struggle to live as free and proud Americans.

As a Sikh American whose grandfather sailed by steamship from Punjab, India, and settled in California 100 years ago, my family's story spans the struggle of Sikhs in America. Donning a turban and long beard, my grandfather tamed the hard floor of the Central Valley on a John Deere tractor in the early 1900s. Sikh pioneers such as my grandfather could not own land or become citizens because of the color of their skin, but they stayed and farmed, weathering race riots and decades of second-class treatment until the law permitted their children and grandchildren to become citizens.

Like many Sikhs, I grew up with deep roots in America and also fell in love with the heart of the Sikh faith: devotion to one God, who requires us to uphold equality between women and men and all peoples, and perform seva, service to our community as an expression of our faith. Our house of worship is called a gurdwara, where we recite and sing the poetry of our sacred scriptures. Many Sikhs wear five articles of faith, including kesh, long uncut hair that most men and some women wrap in a cloth turban.

Nearly every person who wears a turban in America is Sikh.

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Temple shooting dredges up memories of long history of bias crimes against Sikhs
People look on in front of a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where a gunman fired upon people at a service on Sunday.
August 6th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Temple shooting dredges up memories of long history of bias crimes against Sikhs

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Immediately after the September 11, 2001, terrorist acts, Sikhs came under attack.

Mistaken for Muslims for their beards and turbans, they became ripe targets for zealots seeking revenge.

The first person murdered in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks was a Sikh – a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, named Balbir Singh Sodhi who was shot five times by aircraft mechanic Frank Roque.

In the intervening years, the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based advocacy group, reported more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents.

Some Sikhs had their houses vandalized; others were spat upon. In some extreme cases, Sikhs were set upon by groups of people and beaten.

As the incidents waned, the community had hoped the worst was behind them - until Sunday when a man shot and killed at least six people at a temple outside Milwaukee, wounded a police officer, and was himself killed by another officer's bullets.

While Oak Creek, Wisconsin, police have released little information about the suspect, a spokesman with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Chicago division, described him as a white male roughly 40 years of age. And witnesses said the man had a 9/11 tattoo on one arm.

A law enforcement source involved in the investigation said the shooter was an Army veteran who may have been a white supremacist.

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Filed under: Discrimination • History • How we look • Religion