Strong anti-Islamic sentiments increased dramatically after the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States, leading to an uptick in prejudice and the perpetration of hate crimes targeting Muslims. Sikh men and boys, often mistaken for Muslims, suffered as collateral damage. The overall health of both communities has been adversely affected by these experiences. Faced with such realities, communities and parents often adopt adaptive behaviors to foster healthy development in their children. In this paper, drawing on interviews with 23 Sikh parents from 12 families, we examine Sikh parents’ ethno-religious socialization of their children. The confluence of media stereotyping and mistaken identities has shaped Sikh parents’ beliefs regarding their children’s retention/relinquishment of outward identity markers. Sikh parents, in general, are concerned about the safety of their boys, due to the distinctive appearance of their religious markers, such as the turban. They are engaged in a constant struggle to ensure that their children are not identified as Muslims and to protect them from potential harm. In most of the families in our study, boys were raised to give up wearing the indicators of their ethno-religious group. In addition, many parents took responsibility for educating the wider community about their ethno-religious practices through direct communication, participation in cultural events, and support of other ethno-religious minorities. Policy implications are discussed.
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