Anisha Singh

Anisha Singh, Anti-Bullying and Sikh Activist

Author by Bicky Khosla

Anisha Singh was recently featured on the Forbes list of 30 Under 30.
South Florida’s own Bicky Khosla interviewed the rising star

Meet Anisha Singh, a rising South Asian Sikh known for her activism work within Sikh and Muslim communities. Born and raised in South Florida, Anisha currently works in Washington, DC as the Campaign Manager for the Center for American Progress. As a first generation born Indian- American, she began her career by obtaining a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law with an emphasis on social matters. Her most recent achievement includes being featured on Forbes Magazine: 2016 30 under 30 list for a legal win against the U.S Army.  She represented nonprofit organization United Sikhs on behalf of a Sikh student who was rejected from ROTC programs because of his turban. The case led to the student being granted a religious accommodation and the Army created a procedure for individuals to apply for accommodations. Anisha also started a national anti-bullying campaign that promotes cultural awareness for both Sikhs and Muslims.

Anisha’s inspiration to help others draws from her adolescent years. At an early age she coordinated fundraisers for earthquake victims and recorded over 1,000 community service hours in high school.

Anisha Singh

After September 11, Anisha saw firsthand the discrimination and harassment the Sikh community faced. Her friends were bullied in school for wearing religious articles and uncles were interviewed by local journalists about their harassment experiences. Most importantly, many people were uneducated

about Sikhism going so far as to associate a peaceful religion with terrorism.  Anisha knew she “did not have to be a victim or know a victim personally to be frustrated and believe change begins with me. I developed a passion for advocacy and recognized the vitality of education. My pride in my religion and my need for others to understand its beauty fueled my career path and led me to law school. I wanted to be a lawyer to advocate for justice.”

I developed a passion for advocacy and recognized the vitality of education. My pride in my religion and my need for others to understand its beauty fueled my career path and led me to law school. I wanted to be a lawyer to advocate for justice.”

Anisha’s goal is to ensure equal rights and educate the public on Sikhism. Her motivation underlies these fundamental questions, “How do we show that Sikh values are American values? How do we lift up our Muslim brothers and sisters while also educating the public that Sikhs are not Muslims? With the hateful anti- Muslim, rhetoric being disseminated from Republican presidential candidates, how do we protect our community from the backlash? How do we foster love in a climate of hate?”

United Sikhs

Even though the Obama administration has taken initiatives to implement anti-bullying and anti-hate programs at the White House (Know Your Neighbor and Act to Change), there continues to be an increase of racial profiling incidents for both Muslims and Sikhs.  Anisha hopes “the next President can continue that legacy, not break it down. Having the White House support the Sikh community and dedicate staff time and resources to make these initiatives happen are key to seeing the change we need to see to put a stop to misconceptions, misperceptions, and hate.”

While the nation has seen an increase in hate crimes and speeches, driven in part by remarks from presidential nominees, Anisha believes more is needed to counteract this behavior. She states, “in this work, we have to utilize the networks, activism, organizing, and tools. We have to continue to quash all misconceptions and raise awareness. With the prominence of social media in our everyday lives, we are seeing hashtags like #HateUnchecked and #WhyWeAreHere, which is a sign that something is stirring—people are speaking out against hate and we will not apologize for our brownness nor for our faith.”

As Anisha continues to break boundaries and make history in the United States, her passion is derived from “having hope that today will be the day we make history and change the world. While I didn’t imagine we specifically would encounter a historic case where we would sue the U.S. Army, the hope is to always get to that point.”

Even though Anisha is still humble about her recent accomplishments, she says her legacy is to “continue to work hard for the communities and issues near and dear to my heart and hope that I can make a big enough difference to have left a better world for my grandchildren than the one of today.”

As we focus on making the world a better place, Anisha advises youth to “pay close attention to your body’s signals—if you feel a knot in your stomach, it means you are making a bad choice. As you get older, more influences and challenges will come your way, but so long as you stay true to your true self, it will work out.”

Anisha urges South Asian communities to become more active by “working on the Hill, joining a campaign, registering our community to vote, the South Asian community has low voter registration and that needs to change, or volunteer for a Sikh non-profit. We need to speak out more.” By doing so, “people of color can stand together and vote, educate, and organize. I truly believe love and unity will silence and triumph over hate.”

About the Author

Bicky Khosla

Bicky Khosla was born and raised in South Florida with two bachelor degrees from Florida Atlantic University. She enjoys traveling, spending time with her dog, and reading non-fiction.

She is passionate about highlighting South Asian achievements, raising awareness about Sikhism and the importance of religious tolerance.

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