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  • NYS Writers Institute

Rebuilding the Republic: A Response to Anti-Asian Hate

"I believe we can reclaim love as a force for justice for a new time."

-- Valarie Kaur, See No Stranger

Valarie Kaur, a civil rights activist, has been active in raising awareness about violence against Asian Americans since the early 2000s as a response to the murder of a beloved family friend, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, on September 15, 2001. Killed by a self-proclaimed “patriot,” Balbir was the first person to be murdered in a hate crime after the attacks of 9/11.

She has devoted her life to responding to hate crimes against people of color, visiting communities affected by violence, interviewing victims and witnesses, documenting incidents on video and in writing, organizing workshops and designing educational curricula to address and prevent violence, and working with victims to find healing and empowerment.

In the wake of the Atlanta massacre, she circulated a call to action. Her key recommendations included learning the names and stories of those who were killed, and lending support to various organizations on the frontlines of this crisis, notably

Valarie Kaur is an award-winning filmmaker, lawyer, Sikh faith leader and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project (for resources, visit: Her social justice campaigns have helped win policy change on hate crimes, racial profiling, immigration detention, solitary confinement, marriage equality and internet freedom.

Reverend William Barber II of The Poor People's Campaign said, “Valarie Kaur is a revolutionary for justice who shows us how to labor for the world we dream.... Her wisdom inspires us to build movements and seek the change that love demands.”

Kaur's 6-minute speech, "Breathe and Push," delivered in the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election at the Watch Night Service at the at the Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C. received 40 million views worldwide. Her TED Talk, "3 Lessons of Revolutionary Love in a Time of Rage," has been watched more than 3 million times.

She is the author of the new book, See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love (2020), a manifesto that draws from the wisdom of sages, scientists, and activists to reclaim love as an active, public, and revolutionary force that creates new possibilities for ourselves, our communities, and our world.

Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, called the book, “Inspirational, radical, fierce . . . a reliable moral compass guided by revolutionary love.” CNN host Van Jones said, “This is the book we have been waiting for. It calls us up and calls us into the hard and necessary work to heal our wounds and reimagine the world.”

You may purchase his book at the local, independent Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza

More about Valarie Kaur:


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