Courses, Curricula, and Tools


We Commemorate, We Commit Toolkit

About the Toolkit

About the Toolkit

September 11, 2021 commemorates the 20th anniversary of a profound moment in US life – the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC. As we continue to mourn the nearly 3,000 people who died, 6,000 who were injured, and those first responders and families with long-lasting effects, we also redouble our commitment to define our own story and future.

The devastation of September 11th brought with it an increase in hate crimes against members of religious minorities and others who looked different enough to be told by the instigators of such hate, “You do not belong.” Anti-Muslim hate crimes increased by more than 1600% and have never decreased to their pre-9/11 levels. These crimes and their attendant bullying and harassment often targeted Sikh-Americans, who
continue to face attacks, as in the horrific mass shooting at a gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 2012 or the recent murder of four Sikh employees at a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis.

Today, we see another version of this othering in the rise of anti-Asian hate since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. While anti-Asian discrimination has a long history in the U.S., attacks on Asian-Americans have risen steeply since 2020 due, at least in part, to rhetoric that blames Asians for the spread of COVID-19. This trend came into shocking focus in March of this year, when six Asian-American women were killed (along with two others) in a mass-shooting in Atlanta.

Fortunately, on the anniversary of September 11th, these questions of belonging are ones we can answer. We can act to show that Muslim Americans, Sikh-Americans, Asian-Americans, Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other marginalized Americans all belong. We can demonstrate that we all belong, not just as
invited guests, but as beloved co-creators of this great American experiment. This can be the legacy of September 11th: Healing that comes from work to ensure that we all belong. Work to bring “the other” in. Work to reach across difference to discover how we belong together. As Valarie Kaur says, it’s not
that we are strangers; it’s that “you are a part of me I do not yet know.”

As we mark this solemn anniversary, join us in committing to action that cultivates belonging and healing across the U.S. We invite you to watch our 9/11 town hall discussion, We Commemorate. We Commit. Then, consider how you’ll take action to promote belonging and healing in your community, starting with this toolkit. Need help with your plans? Contact us at [email protected].

This toolkit is made possible by the generous support of The Asian American Foundation.

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How do we all work together to look beyond our differences and really find where we have so much more commonality and love? Whatever our faiths might be, whatever our conversations might be, whatever our beliefs might be, the importance is that all our faiths actually teach very similar things, which is how do we find that love and how do we find that radical love.

Sonal Shah, Founding President, The Asian American Foundation