Offensive NJ Radio Comments Offer Opportunity to Educate

Offensive NJ Radio Comments Offer Opportunity to Educate

Last week in a radio broadcast, hosts at NJ 101.5 repeatedly referred to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal as “turban man,” and added, “If that offends you, then don’t wear the turban and maybe I’ll remember your name.” In response to these ignorant comments about Mr. Grewal and the Sikh community, the Sikh Coalition immediately urged for a public apology from the hosts and station, provided media resources on Sikhi for the entire radio station and offered cultural and religious sensitivity training for all staff members. As the station takes our guidance and recommendations, we will provide updates.

The Sikh Coalition’s media and communications rapid response work helped bring local and national attention to the media-amplified offensive language in a climate in which our communities are subject to discrimination, harassment and violence, including news coverage in the Associated PressABC NewsNPR station WHYY, and PIX11. In addition, NJ.com published Executive Director Satjeet Kaur’s op-ed on turning this incident into an educational opportunity. The station moved to suspend the two hosts and issued a public apology to Mr. Grewal and the Sikh community.

“We applaud the station’s swift action in suspending the two radio hosts while conducting an investigation – not because the action was punitive, but because it sets a precedent for what is not acceptable in our society,” said Executive Director Satjeet Kaur in the op-ed. “This is especially important at a time when racism and xenophobia are becoming increasingly normalized.”

Earlier this year, Mr. Grewal made headlines as the first Sikh attorney general in the United States. His appointment joined a number of Sikhs achieving recent groundbreaking political successes across the United States, including in the states of New Jersey, Washington and California.

“We will continue to do whatever we can to ensure that the radio station is held responsible and that we turn this ugly incident into an opportunity for awareness and education,” said Senior Manager of Policy and Advocacy Sim J. Singh.

The Sikh Coalition continues our tireless work to combat bigotry in all its forms through legal, policy, education, media and community empowerment work.

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