Lauren Ann Williams, Yasmin Malhotra, Sachit Kohli, and Anuva Kalawar were students at Montclair State University when she researched interfaith collaboration in Hudson County, New Jersey, during and dfter the “Dotbuster” Bias Crimes Against Asian Indians in the 1980s. Dr. Richard Franke served as the faculty sponsor for this research.
At the time of this research, the research team wrote:
Conflation of race and religion colors the Asian Indian immigrant experience. In the Indian immigrant experience, the problem of racial and religious prejudice has been a particularly important factor that socially and politically affects settlement in America. This research intends to explore the degree to which Hindu and non-Hindu faith community neighbors of Jersey City and Hudson County, New Jersey, may have collaborated in combating the well publicized nineteen eighties “Dotbuster” bias crimes. It is well known and documented that New Jersey’s ‘Dotbusters’ in 1987, openly threatened, and then in September of that year delivered on their threats, to attack and harm any “Hindus” they encountered on the streets, and in some instances even broke into their homes.
A preliminary content analysis of Hudson County newspapers, web documents, records of formal community proceedings, and verbal anecdotal evidence provided by people who claim first hand recall of the events, suggests that the series of attacks on innocent, non-threatening Asian Indians may have led to a first time coming together of Asian Indian immigrants. This unity which transcended intra-Indian ethnic affiliations, as well as class, religious and economic differences, was important in the communities demanding and gaining better treatment and more respect for Indians in Jersey City, and was seen by the immigrants as their contribution to New Jersey and the United States in general.
I propose to examine the extent to which various faith communities, (i.e. Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Baptist, Jewish etc.) in Jersey City, and surrounding Hudson County New Jersey towns, may have organized against bigotry highlighted by two especially brutal attacks – one of them fatal and the other causing severe permanent neurological damage, to members of the Asian Indian community.
While many different faith communities throughout the United States have been individually documented, this particular research will attempt to highlight collaboration for common cause between faith communities. A spin off documentation may show how collaboration during crisis effects longer term faith community life.
Selected Links and Publications
- Publication: Elements of Racial Crime and Prejudice: Religion or Jealousy [.pdf]