Young Leaders Institute
Cultivate skills. Connect with community. Create change.
We are thrilled to announce SAALT’s 2015-2016 Young Leaders Institute cohort! This year’s Institute, the fourth cohort of youth leaders committed to social change on their campuses and communities, includes 16 outstanding, diverse youth who have developed creative and thoughtful projects focused on this year’s theme of Addressing and Confronting Anti-Black Racism in South Asian American Communities through Civic Engagement.
Amritha plans to organize a small series of facilitated community forums in Kalamazoo, MI including members of local social justice organizations, South Asian organizations, and higher education institutions such as Kalamazoo College. Sessions will explore reverse racism and how the concept can in turn inform a deeper overall understanding of racism and internalized oppression.
Anushka will partner with the Ismaili Community Center in Atlanta, GA to develop a series of speaker-facilitated workshops that will explore strategies to combat racism against Black and South Asian communities in the U.S., and explore how to ensure accountability for those that consciously or unconsciously perpetrate racism.
Aretha will create a three-day intensive, facilitated ally training for South Asian community members and other people of color in Seattle to empower them to be powerful allies for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Aysha plans to organize a week of awareness events and forums to combat Black racism, culminating in a silent march on Rutgers University’s campus with South Asian and Black students collaborating to raise awareness of existing initiatives to combat racism. The march will include an open mic night addressing the importance of modern day experiences of racism and solidarity efforts.
Cindy will organize events within the South Asian community on Hamline University’s campus to identify and draw parallels between South Asian American immigrants’ experience with racism in the US and the legacy of racism and slavery in the US in Black communities nationwide over the centuries. These events will aim to encourage mobilizing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and other grassroots-efforts.
Enakshi plans to explore the roots of anti-Black racism within the South Asian community by starting a regular discussion group on the University of Texas – Austin campus centered on short readings by South Asian Dalits and Black authors writing about oppression. The initiative will then evolve to include Black students sharing their reflections on the readings rooted in their personal experiences and struggles. Participants from both communities will host an on-campus joint open mic featuring original works by campus community members that explore internal biases and anti-Black racism.
Harjit will be working within the Sikh Community in Utah and leveraging local organizations and diversity initiatives to develop a collaboration between Sikh and Black communities. As a Sunday school teacher, she plans to launch her project by first engaging Sikh youth about racism and anti-Black sentiment within the community. She plans for the project to culminate in a ‘gallery walk’ at a local Sikh gurdwara that will foster greater understanding, engagement, and solidarity between local Black and Sikh communities.
Harris plans to create a social media or print campaign incorporating visual elements such as film, comic strips, and posters to illustrate moments when we are all complicit in perpetuating racism. The project will incorporate these visual representations into a discussion series between South Asian and Black communities on the University of Texas – Dallas, eventually culminating in joint forums and dialogues.
Myra will capitalize upon her student government role as Diversity and Inclusion Agency Director at the University of Texas – Austin to host a teach-in addressing racism affecting different communities. Additional and ongoing events will explore strategies to build build long-term solidarity, including bi-monthly meetings for student leaders from Black, South Asian, and other student organizations to sustain engagement, solidarity, and collaboration.
Neha plans to organize a series of panel discussions on the Indiana University campus about the root causes of anti-Black racism within the South Asian community, the impact of affirmative action on South Asian and Black communities, the role of South Asians in the context of the Black Liberation Movement, and the future relationship between the two communities.
Pearl will organize discussion groups in Washington, D.C. that engage South Asian and Black communities on racial profiling, exploring how both communities’ experiences parallel each other and how they diverge. The project will culminate in a curated display at a South Asian community center.
Priya will develop a multifaceted project that incorporates a social media campaign focused on illustrating racism and a series of discussions exploring shared struggles between South Asian and Black communities. The project will conclude with a celebratory showcase hosted by members of both communities for the University of Florida campus community.
Rahima is a New York-based journalist who will engage young South Asians via a social media campaign to raise awareness of and address anti-Black racism. Her project will culminate in an event that explores the shared struggles between Black and South Asian communities, particularly around collaborating to combat police brutality.
Sanjana plans to use her semester abroad in London to identify effective strategies to combat anti-Black racism and apply them to Northwestern University’s campus community through a series of workshops featuring testimonials from South Asian and Black students. Her project will root efforts to address and combat racism in the personal experiences and stories of youth from both communities.
Talia will engage New York City South Asian youth through her role as a facilitator for DRUM – South Asian Organizing Center and coordinate with campus organizations on City University of New York’s campus by hosting a series of guest speaker workshops exploring anti-Black racism and highlighting opportunities for individuals from both communities to collaborate to address issues that disproportionately affect them. Workshops will address diverse topics, including policing practices within Black and immigrant New York City neighborhoods, gentrification, and the Movement for Black Lives.
Vandana will host a ‘Story Slam’” on Ohio State University’s campus to create a safe space for Black and South Asian students to share their experiences with racism through poetry and stories with other students of color organizations. The event will bring together students from Black and South Asian organizations organizations on campus to reflect upon their shared experiences with race and racism and partner on developing joint campaigns to combat racism on campus.
Young Leaders Institute is generously supported by: