RELIGION

Prabhjot Singh, Sikh Professor, Responds To Hate Crime Attack With 'Gratitude'

09/25/2013 12:52 pm ET | Updated Nov 01, 2013

Prabhjot Singh, the Columbia professor who suffered a brutal hate-based attack on Saturday night, spoke out to express his incredible response to the mob beating.

"People keep asking me what it feels like to have been assaulted in a hate crime," Singh wrote in the New York Daily News. "Honestly, I can't come up with a better response than simply 'gratitude.'"

He went on to explain, "I'm thankful for a few reasons. If they had attacked me any more violently, I may not be awake right now to tell my story. If they had attacked me even half an hour earlier, they would have harmed my wife and one-year-old son. And if they had attacked me anywhere else, I may not have had bystanders there to save me."

Singh earlier said in an appearance on Huff Post Live, "Ultimately I think to simply go out and punish those individuals who have acted out on hate crimes is insufficient. More broadly, we need to have a real national conversation around 'Who looks American? What does it mean to be American?'"

His friend Simran Jeet Singh wrote in a blog about the incident that "Prabhjot has dedicated his life to serving the underserved," as Director of Systems Management at the Earth Institute as well as within his local Harlem community.

Singh's vocation as a healer of bodies as well as communities is evident from his response to the attack, as in a Monday statement he said that he would like to educate his attackers and "invite them where we worship."

He wrote that he and his young family, including a one-year-old son, have no intention to move, but will continue doing good work and outreach in their area. "My hope is that our family continues to be a part of this neighborhood, from visiting parks and playgrounds to building relationships through our work, he said. "I believe this will bring about positive change that strengthens us through our diversity."

Education is the key to stopping hate crimes. Singh wrote in the NY Daily News, "Even more important to me than my attackers being caught is that they are taught. My tradition teaches me to value justice and accountability, and it also teaches me love, compassion and understanding."

He hasn't let the attack ruin the love he has for Harlem, a place where he's lived for some years, and intends to raise his child in. Singh has chosen to be thankful for his life rather than bitter about the attack.

"So today, my response is gratitude. Tomorrow my response will be gratitude, as well. To the nurse, to the elderly man and to the other good Samaritans who came to my aid; to my Harlem community, my Columbia community and my Sikh community; and for my role as husband, father, doctor, American, teacher, advocate and neighbor."

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Sikhs Host 'Turban Day' in New York City
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