We Too Sing America

South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future

The nationally renowned racial justice advocate shines a light on an unexplored consequence of modern-day terrorism: the ongoing, state-sanctioned persecution of a range of American minorities

“If I see someone [who] comes in that’s got a diaper on his head and a fan belt wrapped around the diaper on his head, that guy needs to be pulled over.” —former U.S. Congressman John Cooksey (R-LA) in 2001, who later apologized

Many of us can recall the targeting of South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh people in the wake of 9/11. We may be less aware, however, of the ongoing racism directed against these groups in the past decade and a half.

In We Too Sing America, nationally renowned activist Deepa Iyer catalogs recent racial flash points, from the 2012 massacre at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, to the violent opposition to the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and to the Park 51 Community Center in Lower Manhattan.

Iyer asks whether hate crimes should be considered domestic terrorism and explores the role of the state in perpetuating racism through detentions, national registration programs, police profiling, and constant surveillance. She looks at topics including Islamophobia in the Bible Belt; the “Bermuda Triangle” of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim hysteria; and the energy of new reform movements, including those of “undocumented and unafraid” youth and Black Lives Matter.

In a book that reframes the discussion of race in America, a brilliant young activist provides ideas from the front lines of post-9/11 America.

Praise

“With years of experience in civil rights advocacy, Deepa Iyer’s book is an important contribution to the work of building a stronger and more inclusive democracy.”
—Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA)
“With strong research and individual accounts, Deepa Iyer’s We Too Sing America fills an unfortunate gap in knowledge of the effects of post-9/11 bigotry and violence on South Asian, Arab, and Muslim communities. It is personal, political, and powerful.”
—Hari Kondabolu, comedian and writer
“Iyer’s personal journey organizing around racially charged events post-9/11 defines a new movement in America that is centered on the desire to reclaim our country. Her account of the policies, rhetoric, and actions that marginalize, demonize, and criminalize brown people because of their identities, their names, and their faiths provides a call to action for all of us.”
—Rashida Tlaib, former Michigan state representative and the second Muslim woman to serve in a state legislature
“In smooth and fluid prose, Iyer provides us with a wealth of detail on the struggles faced by South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh youth, women, and men who refuse to be excluded from full membership in the United States.”
—Rajini Srikanth, author of Constructing the Enemy: Empathy/Antipathy in U.S. Literature and Law and The World Next Door: South Asian American Literature and the Idea of America
“A fascinating read! Iyer is never shy to share her strong opinions; she has written passionately, tying well-researched sections on policy together with emotional accounts of national events. Whether you ultimately agree or disagree with the narrative, this book is a rare opportunity to read about a perspective on the intersection of community, governance, policy, family, and law.”
—Kal Penn, author and public servant
“At a time when Black and Brown communities from Murfreesboro to Ferguson are under attack, Deepa Iyer reminds us in this timely and moving book that building meaningful and lasting allegiances, shaped by young people, is the urgent task ahead of us.”
—Vincent Warren, Center for Constitutional Rights
“In an era of heightened racial anxiety and contradictory state policies, Iyer challenges us to imagine and aspire toward a truly equitable and inclusive multiracial society.”
—Michael Omi, associate professor of Asian American studies, University of California, Berkeley
“Deepa Iyer brings the head of a lawyer and the heart of a community activist to bear on her remarkable book We Too Sing America. It is a window into the struggles of the margins that allow the mainstream to remain humane.”
—Vijay Prashad, author of Uncle Swami: Being South Asian in America
We Too Sing America is a necessary, important, and passionate work that records the hymns, blues, and joyous songs of a post-9/11 America, featuring diverse voices of American communities often excluded from the choir. But Iyer’s book aims higher: it reflects hope for America’s pluralistic future where these ‘others’ ultimately emerge as the protagonists of not only their own narratives but of a new, vibrant America as well.”
—Wajahat Ali, host, Al-Jazeera America, and author of The Domestic Crusaders

News and Reviews

The Aerogram

Four things you can do to counter hate and violence: South Asian activists in conversation with Deepa Iyer

New Books in Political Science

Listen to New Books in Political Science's podcast interview with Deepa Iyer

NBC News Asian America

NBC News interviews Deepa Iyer about We Too Sing America

The Aerogram

Deepa Iyer writes about her recent book We Too Sing America.

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