South Asian Americans Leading Together is the resistance movement we need

Credit: South Asian Americans Leading Together

In my time as Communications and Policy Fellow with South Asian Americans Leading Together, I had the opportunity to be in the front row seat to understanding the true impact of hate crimes and the American immigration system, which continues to separate families at the border. White supremacy and hindu nationalism have joined forces to disenfranchise people living within their borders and outside of it, in the hopes that the more ‘pure’ race can enjoy the benefits of the state while unleashing a torrent of violence on those that question them. I tracked hate crime violence against South Asians and Middle Eastern communities in the United States and analyzed the policies coming from the very top of the Trump Administration and how Stephen Miller is the origin for the family separation policy.

Part of my time at SAALT was covering the Kashmir hearings in Congress, tracking hate crimes, building up my skills in online advocacy and communications and ensuring that I helped with development efforts to ensure that SAALT could bring in new partners for fundraising and continuing to support those partners already with us. Working within the South Asian context helped me hone my skills and gain a better understanding of the Trump administrations efforts to repeal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the public charge rule, etc. As someone who aspires to be an immigration attorney myself one day, the time I had at SAALT built on my understanding of the American legal system.

Organizing against hate is never easy. But it’s time that we support those who answer the call to protect those who are vulnerable. South Asian Americans Leading Together put investment into my growth and now, it’s time for us to empower them financially so that they can take on more Policy and Communications fellows to train the next generation of South Asian activists in fighting back against hate, building community with other organizations and showing up to Congress to demand accountability from our elected officials.

Electoral Consequences

The Democratic Party, which frequently quotes Gandhi (like House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer at Howdy Modi) and Represenative Krishna Moorthi of Illnois who frequently shows up to events sponsered by the right wing and thinks that they’re still dealing with the Indian National Congress and their leaders, has now candidates running in New York State Assembly, U.S. House of Representatives and managing Presidential campaigns, that are bankrolled and funded by BJP-affiliates in the diaspora and doesn’t understand the foreign interference has branched out to India along with Russia. U.S. House of Representatives member and current contender for President Tulsi Gabbard has frequently met with Modi and welcomes the leaders of the right-wing of India into her circles and ‘sent her regrets’ that she couldn’t be at the Howdy Modi event that the ‘Congressional Samosa Caucus’ was urged to attend. But that didn’t stop Congressman Krishnamoorthi from showing up and being unabashedly happy about Modi’s presence.

From Chicago For Justice on Representative Krishnamoorthi:

Raja Krishnamoorthi Openly Supports Hindu Fascism:

  • Raja was the sole Indian-American member of Congress to attend “Howdy Modi,” which was organized to bolster support for the Hindu fascist agenda. Raja met Modi in August 2017 to “discuss the special relationship between the United States and India.”
  • Raja threw his weight behind an effort to erase caste and push Islamophobic narratives in California textbooks in 2017.
  • Raja appeared at the World Hindu Congress in September 2018. He shared a platform with RSS head Mohan Bhagwat, who openly calls for violence against minorities and the establishment of India as a Hindu ethno-state.
  • Raja continues to appear at events organized by American subsidiaries of the Sangh Parivar and did so as recently as October 2019.

What are we asking progressive South Asians to do?

  1. Challenge Raja on his ties to Hindu fascism via telephone, email, and social media
  2. Ensure Krishnamoorthi does not get re-elected;
  3. Encourage your friends, family, and other community members to stop funding Raja and other individuals with ties to Hindu fascism;
  4. Spread the message that supporting Hindu fascism = supporting genocide.

Contact us:

Email: chicagosouthasians4justice@gmail.com

Promoting Hate

Amit Jani , Sonal Shah, Jenifer Rajkumar, Seema Verma, are just few names with big weight that are bankrolled by the BJP and other conservative American groups and yet, they are given prominent notice in the community, with some of them like Verma, working at the highest levels of the Trump Administration.

Being of Sikh origin, I am no stranger to the pograms committed against the Sikh community in 1984 and the subsequent moments in our history where have fought for the rights of society’s most marginalized and vilified. I grew up in the post 9/11 world where being brown and having an ‘un-American’ name made me and my peers the target of people’s racism and derision in New York City public schools.

I’ve seen what police surveillance of black and brown communities can do and how that places less trust of everyday people into the forces charged with keeping us all safe.

South Asian Americans Leading Together maps out the incidences of hate violence and presents testimony in Congress about best practices to combat hate and encourage legislation that would prevent violence against American religious minorities in addition to mobilizing translators, legal aid and works within a network of South Asian organizations to hold accountable, those that seek to harm the South Asian community.

Right-Wing Hindu Nationalism

According to SAALT, the Bharatiya Janata Party which is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is one that is centered upon the Hindu nationalist agenda and it is described as:

Hindu nationalist agenda, known as Hindutva, a political ideology that is divergent from the pluralistic practices and beliefs of Hinduism itself. Hindutva, or right wing Hindu nationalism, is rooted in the alarming notion that Hindus are racially and culturally superior to others. Similar to white supremacy, which South Asians (including Hindus) in the United States contend regularly with, Hindutva threatens the rights, bodies, freedoms, and livelihoods of non-Hindus in India.

Gurupreet Kaur

When the story broke about a six year old girl who had died in her attempt to cross into the United States, I was beginning to pay more attention to the dire humanitarian crisis that religious minorities have been starting to face. Not that I was excusing the terrible violence and speech from India before, but I had not been able to understand the human tide that was desperate to escape their living situations in their respective countries. As a paralegal in a immigration law firm, I had the opportunity to learn about why Bangladeshis were coming to America via the southern border, but the death of Kaur, really helped me understand the conditions that Punjabis were fleeing and why this family took this desperate step of crossing the hot and unbearable desert to get to America.

On June 17th, 2019, South Asian Americans Leading Together released this statement in response to her death:

Gurupreet’s body was found by U.S. Border Patrol agents in a remote desert outside the Lukeville, Arizona point of entry on Wednesday, June 12th, just days before her seventh birthday.

She died of heat stroke in the Arizona desert where temperatures were 108 degrees Fahrenheit, according to U.S. Border Patrol and the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner (PCOME).

Gurupreet and her mother were reportedly among a group of five Indian nationals who were dropped off by migrant traffickers in a remote area on the U.S.-Mexico border. Her mother and another woman went in search of water, leaving Gurupreet with two others from the group. Gurupreet’s mother was found by a U.S. Border Patrol agent 22 hours later. Four hours after that, Border Patrol agents found Gurupreet’s body.

Seven migrant children have died in immigration custody since last year. Hundreds more have died close to ports of entry while attempting to make the perilous journey through the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Sikhs are making this perilous journey to escape the violence, corruption and human carnage that can come from being a religious minority in India. But in the diaspora, conditions haven’t improved that much. The murder of Deputy Dhaliwal in Texas while he was on duty, the murders of elderly Sikh men in California and shooting at the Oak Creek Wisconsin Gurdwara in 2012, demonstrates that this country isn’t any safer for Sikh men and women and that the United States has a long way to go in ensuring that religious minorities and Sikh Americans don’t face any violence because of the articles of faith one wishes to wear and the language, foods and houses of worship they frequent.

Action Groups against Hindu Right-Wing Fundamentalism

-South Asian Americans Leading Together

-Chicago South Asians For Justice

-Queens Against Hindu Fascism

-Equality Labs

-South Asian Network

Call to Action

According to SAALT, they ask that South Asian Americans become more vocal on the issues and empower each other to fight back against derogatry actions, words and violence perpuated by those who seek a ‘Hindu rashtra.’ They say:

South Asians in the United States have a responsibility to speak up and take action, especially now given the dire situation in Kashmir and the upcoming trip by Prime Minister Modi to the United States. We urge South Asians to raise awareness about the implications and impact of Hindutva, and to lend your voices to the chorus of people raising concerns. We urge South Asian Americans to understand the connections between white supremacy and Hindutva, to unite around human rights, to support policies that uphold dignity and inclusion for all, and to denounce hate violence in all its forms.

You can find more information about South Asian Americans Leading Together here: https://saalt.org and donate here: https://saalt.salsalabs.org/SAALTEOYForm1/index.html

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Navjot Pal Kaur

Navjot Pal Kaur

Kaur Republic has now transitioned to Substack. Please follow us there to become a monthly or yearly subscriber: https://kaurrep.substack.com/

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