Valarie Kaur is a third generation Sikh-American whose work has come to stand for racial and religious inclusion, healing, and justice.
In the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks, Valarie was witness to a rising number of hate crimes and racial incidents involving "Arab-looking" men and women, including the murder of a member of her own Sikh community.
Shaken by these acts of violence, seeing that Muslim- and Arab- phobia on the rise, fearing that bigotry was becoming normalized, Valarie devoted herself to exposing the terrible consequences of racial and religious misunderstanding and to starting the healing process.
She began her mission by traveling the country and capturing on film first hand stories of stories of hate crimes, death threats, and fear visited upon American Sikhs, Muslims, and Arabs by their fellow Americans. The result was a critically-acclaimed, deeply moving and often heart-wrenching documentary entitled Divided We Fall.
"5 Stars…a hopeful civics lesson on what it means to be an American"
— Orlando Sentinel
"A deeply moving personal favorite"
— Omaha World-Herald
"A Tour De Force"
— Amy Chua, author of World on Fire and Day of Empire
"A moving portrait of one of America’s rawest periods…grips the viewer from its very first scenes."
— India West
Plus numerous "best documentary" awards at film festivals around the world.
In 2009, Valarie traveled to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba as a representative of the National Institute of Military Justice, where she reported on the military commissions. She also organized hearings on Guantánamo and worked on Supreme Court Justice’s Sonia Sotomayor Confirmation Proceedings as a legal clerk on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Valarie has launched The Common Ground Campaign, a diverse coalition of young people, speak out against fear and violence against Muslim Americans and pledge to create common ground through compassionate dialogue. The goal is to find common ground among our communities and in our country through creative action and compassionate dialogue, where people of every kind, color, creed are recognized as vital parts of a strong America.
Speaker, Writer and Advocate
Now Valarie continues to promote racial and religious pluralism through her speaking, writing, and advocacy. She is a dynamic speaker who holds audiences spellbound in presentations that promote interracial and interfaith dialogue. She delivers keynote speeches, workshops, and lectures at universities, high schools, corporations, community organizations, educational associations, and religious and interfaith centers across the country and around the world.
"Valarie Kaur was one of the most exceptional speakers/thinkers I have ever heard."
— Melissa Harris-Lacewell, leading scholar on American politics and MSNBC Commentator
"How quiet can 1,000 people be? When Valarie Kaur spoke… the Minneapolis Convention Center was so silent that the only sound was that of the muted traffic from nearby 12th Street. Kaur, the keynote speaker at our It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race, held the audience spellbound…"
— Becky Roloff, CEO of the Young Women’s Christian Association (MN)
Having been the victim of bias and bigotry as a young Sikh growing up in a conservative Christian California community, she brings a personal, heartfelt dimension to her appearances, as she asks her audiences: Who is an American?
Valarie connects with her audiences and asks them to dig deeply into their own experiences, recalling times when they were the outsiders, subjected to unfair or biased treatment at the hands of others. She leads participants to a common ground, to an understanding that, as Valarie puts it:
Each and every one of us has a stake in expanding the circle of who counts as American, of who counts as one of us.
Valarie has been featured in print, radio, and television news, in the national and international press, including CNN, BBC, National Public Radio, Associated Press, Religion News Service, and The New York Times.
Articulate, personable, appealing, she has been celebrated as "a woman of extraordinary courage and vision," "a gifted speaker" and "a brave new voice" in the next generation of young public intellectuals.
Representing the younger generation, the most diverse in America's history, Valarie offers unique insights into the multi-racial world developing around us.
We need only to look at today’s headlines to know that the outbreak of hate crimes racial and religious misunderstandings that began soon after 9/11 have not subsided, but have perhaps increased. Exceptional individuals like Valarie, devoted to changing the world and bringing us together, are needed now more than ever.
Credentials and honors
Valarie tailors each presentation to the needs of her audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest her range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.
Speaking brilliantly on the issues of race, religion, gender, and power, Valarie offers guidance for any organization committed to supporting diversity and to healing the wounds caused by hate, fear, and ignorance. Her presentation topics include:
Stanford 2013 Baccalaureate Ceremony
Standing Up for Justice
One Year Anniversary of Oak Creek | Groundswell
A college forum series:
Dear Eric — Just wanted to let you know what a HUGE success Valarie Kaur was! She connected with students in a way few speakers can, spoke on their level and had their undivided attention whether at the Q&A, the dinner or her presentation! She had a swarm after her event and ended up sitting on the floor of the reception with about 30 students and talking for another hour. It was awesome!