In Pursuit of the “Dream”: We Reflect and Recommit

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Pho­to Cred­it: Bao Lor, SEARAC

Today marks the 50th Anniver­sary of the March on Wash­ing­ton and Mar­tin Luther King Jr.’s famous, “I Have a Dream” speech. This past week­end, to com­mem­o­rate this impor­tant occa­sion, Asian Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tions joined thou­sands of peo­ple who gath­ered in the nation’s cap­i­tal to par­tic­i­pate in a march and ral­ly titled, “Nation­al Action to Real­ize the Dream March”.. The pur­pose of this march and ral­ly was not just to remem­ber the lega­cy of Dr. King and the progress since his speech over 50 years ago, but to show that even today in 2013, inequal­i­ty per­sists.

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

SAALT staff ral­ly­ing in sol­i­dar­i­ty

Among the Asian Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tions present at the March were rep­re­sen­ta­tives from SAALT, Sikh Amer­i­can Legal Defense and Edu­ca­tion Fund (SALDEF) and Desis Ris­ing Up and Mov­ing (DRUM). And as part of the pro­gram on Sat­ur­day, Jasjit Singh, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SALDEF spoke and shared the stage along with oth­er civ­il rights lead­ers.

The work still con­tin­ues, espe­cial­ly with­in the South Asian, Mus­lim and Sikh com­mu­ni­ties when it comes to decreas­ing hate crimes, dis­crim­i­na­tion, harass­ment and racial pro­fil­ing fol­low­ing 9/11, and the tremen­dous dis­par­i­ties with­in South Asian com­mu­ni­ties from the stand­point of access to edu­ca­tion­al equi­ty, jobs, and health care.

SAALT Pro­grams Intern and recent grad­u­ate of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land, Col­lege Park, Vic­to­ria Meaney, reflect­ed on the sig­nif­i­cance of the March, “Attend­ing the 50th Anniver­sary March on Wash­ing­ton was mon­u­men­tal to me as a South Asian Amer­i­can. My abil­i­ty to par­tic­i­pate, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with SAALT real­ly exem­pli­fies the progress that has been made, based on the work of indi­vid­u­als such as Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. and Mahat­ma Gand­hi. Their exam­ples show the impor­tance of the indi­vid­u­al’s voice, and, by ally­ing with oth­ers, the steps to a just soci­ety are pos­si­ble. My hope is that future march­es to come will have an even greater rep­re­sen­ta­tion of South Asians and Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­cans, because civ­il rights belong to all, but we will not be heard if we do not advo­cate for our­selves.”

We marched and ral­lied in sol­i­dar­i­ty for jobs, jus­tice, peace and equal­i­ty along with Amer­i­cans of all races, faith and back­grounds.

Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)

Desis Ris­ing Up and Mov­ing (DRUM)

In giv­ing her rea­sons for the impor­tance of this March, Roksana Mun a DRUM Youth Orga­niz­er reflect­ed on the theme of the March in 1963, which was “the need for jobs and the ever grow­ing eco­nom­ic and social inequal­i­ty between peo­ple of col­or com­mu­ni­ties and white com­mu­ni­ties”. And today she notes, “…we’re liv­ing at a time when the same exact issues of work­ing-class, peo­ple of col­or are strug­gling to find jobs, decent pay (or in many cas­es any pay), increased cuts to edu­ca­tion, health care and social ser­vice sys­tems still per­sist. The Poor People’s March is still need­ed”

We showed that even though 50 years has passed since Dr. King’s speech call­ing for equal­i­ty and jus­tice we still have yet to pur­sue that dream.

As Fahd Ahmed, Legal and Pol­i­cy Direc­tor of DRUM states, “It was impor­tant for DRUM to have a pres­ence at the 50th Anniver­sary of the March on Wash­ing­ton because we have direct­ly ben­e­fit­ed from gains made by the Civ­il Rights move­ment. Both in terms of actu­al rights, won, such as the Immi­gra­tion and Nation­al­i­ty Act of 1965, but also in hav­ing learned strate­gies and tac­tics. Our cur­rent strug­gles for immi­grant rights, racial jus­tice, and worker’s rights, are a con­tin­u­a­tion of that lega­cy.”

Let us reflect and recom­mit as SAALT Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Deepa Iyer, notes “South Asians are indebt­ed to the civ­il rights move­ment and the African Amer­i­can lead­ers and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers who marched today 50 years ago. The piv­otal anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion and immi­gra­tion laws that were enact­ed in 1965 have pre­served the rights of mil­lions of peo­ple of col­or and immi­grants. Now, 50 years lat­er, South Asians must con­tin­ue to be a crit­i­cal and vis­i­ble con­stituen­cy in the ongo­ing strug­gle for equi­ty.”

So today, on the actu­al date of the March on Wash­ing­ton, as we com­mem­o­rate Dr. King, his lega­cy and the strug­gles that were endured to defend our civ­il rights, let us not for­get that prob­lems still per­sists and that we are still in pur­suit of the “Dream”.
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Auri­a­Joy Asaria
Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Admin Assis­tant
South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er, SAALT

Supreme Court Watch: Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder and the South Asian Community

On June 25, 2013, in the case of Shel­by Coun­ty, Alaba­ma v. Hold­er, the Supreme Court inval­i­dat­ed Sec­tion 4 of the Vot­ing Rights of 1965 rul­ing it uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. SAALT strong­ly con­demns the Supreme Court’s deci­sion to inval­i­date Sec­tion 4 of the Vot­ing Rights Act which has been piv­otal in pro­tect­ing minor­i­ty vot­ers’ abil­i­ty to par­tic­i­pate in the Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy. In Jan­u­ary 2013, SAALT joined an ami­cus brief in the case, along with 27 oth­er Asian Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tions, argu­ing in favor of the Vot­ing Rights Act, par­tic­u­lar­ly giv­en its impor­tance relat­ed to lan­guage access and polit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

With the back­drop of egre­gious racial dis­crim­i­na­tion against minor­i­ty vot­ers, Sec­tion 4 of the Vot­ing Rights Act artic­u­lates a for­mu­la to deter­mine which juris­dic­tions are required to have any changes in their vot­ing laws pre-cleared by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice or a fed­er­al court (under Sec­tion 5 of the leg­is­la­tion) to ensure that minor­i­ty vot­ers’ abil­i­ty to vote is not dimin­ished. The trig­ger for­mu­la used to des­ig­nate such juris­dic­tions, as out­lined in Sec­tion 4, is based on var­i­ous fac­tors, includ­ing his­tor­i­cal evi­dence of racial­ly dis­crim­i­na­to­ry vot­ing prac­tices, impact on lan­guage minor­i­ty groups, and low minor­i­ty vot­er turnout. While the Court rec­og­nized that racial dis­crim­i­na­tion con­tin­ues to plague the abil­i­ty for many to vote, it stat­ed that the cov­er­age for­mu­la used in Sec­tion 4 was “out­dat­ed” in light of recent increased minor­i­ty vot­er turnout, dis­ap­proved of states being treat­ed dif­fer­ent­ly under the law, and sug­gest­ed that Con­gress update the for­mu­la in order to pass con­sti­tu­tion­al muster. This coun­ter­in­tu­itive rea­son­ing ignores that Sec­tions 4 and 5 have been piv­otal in pro­mot­ing enfran­chise­ment, con­sid­er­able evi­dence proves racial dis­crim­i­na­tion at the polls con­tin­ues, and fed­er­al leg­is­la­tors have rec­og­nized the impor­tance of keep­ing the Vot­ing Rights Act in effect. In fact, the Vot­ing Rights Act, includ­ing Sec­tion 4, has increas­ing­ly enjoyed sig­nif­i­cant bipar­ti­san sup­port with­in Con­gress over the years and was most recent­ly reau­tho­rized almost unan­i­mous­ly in 2006.

The right to vote has been a long-fought bat­tle for com­mu­ni­ties of col­or in the Unit­ed States. The Vot­ing Rights Act is an his­toric and cru­cial piece of leg­is­la­tion that was borne out of our country’s Civ­il Rights Move­ment and the pio­neer­ing strug­gles of the African Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty in the 1960s. Indeed, the South Asian community’s own path to attain nat­u­ral­iza­tion, con­fer­ring the right to vote, has been a rocky one. In 1923, the Supreme Court then ruled that South Asians were not con­sid­ered white by the com­mon per­son and thus could not be con­sid­ered cit­i­zens; this remained in effect until leg­is­la­tion was enact­ed decades lat­er. In more recent years, as doc­u­ment­ed by elec­tion mon­i­tor­ing and exit polling efforts, South Asian and oth­er vot­ers of col­or con­tin­ue to encounter bar­ri­ers at the polls because of race, reli­gion, and lan­guage abil­i­ty and restric­tive vot­er iden­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­pos­als con­tin­ue to threat­en the right to vote. South Asians will not be immune from today’s dis­ap­point­ing rul­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly giv­en our community’s over­all size and growth in juris­dic­tions pre­vi­ous­ly cov­ered under the Sec­tion 4 for­mu­la, includ­ing Ari­zona, Geor­gia, Texas, and Vir­ginia.

This rul­ing is a grave set­back for vot­ing rights and equal­i­ty in the coun­try that ignores both the his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary evi­dence of dis­crim­i­na­tion that minor­i­ty vot­ers face. Com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers are encour­aged to join a peti­tion call­ing for an amend­ment to pro­tect the rights of all vot­ers. Look­ing for­ward, SAALT will con­tin­ue to work with allies when Con­gress devel­ops a new cov­er­age for­mu­la in light of today’s rul­ing and ensure that it address­es dis­crim­i­na­tion against racial, eth­nic, and lan­guage minori­ties.

SAALT thanks Priya Murthy for her assis­tance in pro­vid­ing analy­sis and writ­ing.

Election Monitoring at Lakelands Park Middle School in Gaithersburg, MD


On Novem­ber 4th, I served as the site super­vi­sor at Lake­lands Park Mid­dle School in Gaithers­burg, MD to con­duct an Asian Amer­i­can Vot­er Sur­vey and mon­i­tor and report any vot­er inci­dents. Our expe­ri­ence was amaz­ing in that most of the Asian Amer­i­can vot­ers we approached were more than hap­py to fill out our sur­vey and even more enthu­si­as­tic once we told them what it was for. It was on this day that I real­ized the impor­tance of col­lect­ing this data and get­ting a sense of the needs, chal­lenges, and pri­or­i­ties of our community.There is one inci­dent that sticks out in my mind from that day. There was a woman who I saw vote ear­li­er in the day come back to our polling site in the after­noon with a cam­era. She asked us to take her pic­ture near the “Vote Here” sign, near our “Asian Amer­i­can Vot­er Sign”, and even a pic­ture with us! Her emo­tion and excite­ment were vis­i­ble as she told us how she want­ed to doc­u­ment this his­toric day for her chil­dren. As the day unfold­ed, we saw vot­ers turn out in record num­bers and in a very real way, it struck me how impor­tant this day was. Peo­ple came out to vote despite the long lines, cold weath­er, and rain. They brought their kids, their par­ents, their pets, their cam­eras, and their excite­ment. I am thank­ful that I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to wit­ness such an occa­sion.

Check back on the SAALT web­site for updat­ed infor­ma­tion about the vot­ing trends of the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty!

 
 
 
 

 

Where were you on Election Day?

I hope that you were vot­ing and mak­ing your voice heard. Around the coun­try, vol­un­teers from SAALT and oth­er orga­ni­za­tions from the Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty were at poll sites, pro­tect­ing the vote and learn­ing more about the vot­ing choic­es and bar­ri­ers faced by Asians. It was my first time being an elec­tion mon­i­tor and I was assigned to a poll site in Sil­ver Spring, MD (which is in the sub­urbs of Wash­ing­ton, DC). It was an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence on a num­ber of lev­els. First and fore­most, it was very pow­er­ful to see so many peo­ple after they had exer­cised their right to vote. It was the cul­mi­na­tion of a long, and some­times emo­tion­al, elec­tion cycle and you could feel the excite­ment in the air.

I saw a lot of peo­ple with smiles on their faces. Anoth­er notable trend was fam­i­lies com­ing in to vote togeth­er in which the chil­dren were vot­ing for the first time. As they filled out sur­veys, I could see the pride in the par­ents’ eyes. I moved to the Unit­ed States when I was twelve years old. My fam­i­ly had pre­vi­ous­ly lived in Sau­di Ara­bia, which was an inter­est­ing expe­ri­ence all around, but there was a pal­pa­ble dif­fer­ence when we came to Amer­i­ca. This was a place where peo­ple set­tled, not just a place to pass through. It was not imme­di­ate, but Amer­i­ca became home. And when I became a cit­i­zen in 2006, I was old enough to have real­ly cho­sen become an “Amer­i­can”. I knew when I said that oath in the cour­t­house in Chica­go that, in a fun­da­men­tal way, my place in the world had shift­ed.

Even though I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vote in the 2006 midterm elec­tions, I was beside myself with excite­ment about vot­ing in my first pres­i­den­tial elec­tions: to be mak­ing this huge, mean­ing­ful choice along with my fel­low Amer­i­cans (a deci­sion that I knew from per­son­al expe­ri­ence rever­ber­at­ed well beyond the US) was some­thing I had looked for­ward to for a very long time. In my fam­i­ly there are Amer­i­can cit­i­zens, per­ma­nent res­i­dents, H1‑B and stu­dent visa-hold­ers and Bangladeshi cit­i­zens. I vot­ed absen­tee in the Dis­trict of Colum­bia, so it was­n’t the whole Elec­tion Day expe­ri­ence, but when I stood in my lit­tle vot­ing booth, I felt my whole fam­i­ly there with me and I did my best to make sure my vote reflect­ed that.

I don’t know if it is the same for oth­er immi­grants and chil­dren of immi­grants, but the very act of vot­ing felt like some small but vital por­tion of my par­ents’ dreams and my dreams becom­ing a real­i­ty. Being an elec­tion mon­i­tor and see­ing peo­ple of all races and eth­nic­i­ties, of dif­fer­ent ages and socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus­es seemed a qui­et and pow­er­ful affir­ma­tion of Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy at work. On a very prac­ti­cal lev­el, being there to help doc­u­ment any prob­lems or issues with vot­ing helped me con­tribute to a bet­ter under­stand­ing of Asian Amer­i­cans as a vot­ing pop­u­la­tion. This infor­ma­tion not only helps us under­stand our com­mu­ni­ty bet­ter, it informs pol­i­cy­mak­ers and politi­cians about the issues that mat­ter to us. I know that I will remem­ber Novem­ber 4th, 2008 for the rest of my life and I hope that the work that I and all the oth­er elec­tion mon­i­tors can make a sim­i­lar impact on our com­mu­ni­ty’s future.

We’re going to put up some more posts about peo­ple’s expe­ri­ences with elec­tion mon­i­tor­ing so keep a look out for them.

What Do I Need to Bring to the Polls? and Document the Vote!

It’s almost here! Elec­tion Day! After a rather long pri­ma­ry sea­son, this elec­tion is com­ing to close in the most excit­ing way pos­si­ble. Vot­er turnout is expect­ed to be quite impres­sive and if ear­ly vot­ing is any indi­ca­tion Amer­i­cans around the coun­try are excit­ed (and com­m­mit­ted, with ear­ly vot­ing loca­tions in some states hav­ing wait times in excess of SIX hours) about hav­ing their say this elec­tion. So for every­one get­ting ready to vote on Elec­tion Day, make sure that the ID require­ments in your state don’t keep you from cast­ing a bal­lot. Lookup your state’s ID require­ment on www.866ourvote.org.

Also, while you’re wait­ing online, doc­u­ment the vote, take pic­tures or video of how vot­ing looks in your com­mu­ni­ty. If you have any inter­est­ing sto­ries to share about first time vot­ers or the excite­ment in your fam­i­ly or cir­cle of friends about vot­ing, we want to hear about it. Are you vot­ing, get­ting out the vote, or mon­i­tor­ing at the polls on Elec­tion Day? Bring a cam­era or video­cam­era with you to doc­u­ment pic­tures and sto­ries of South Asian vot­ers. Send pic­tures, video, writ­ten reflec­tions, quotes and more to saalt@saalt.org by Wednes­day, Novem­ber 5th at 5PM!

Here’s an inter­est­ing PSA I found that real­ly under­scores how mean­ing­ful the vote is, it may take a cou­ple of hours (so I sug­gest bring­ing a book… and maybe a fold­ing chair) but going out and vot­ing remains sig­nif­i­cant long after Elec­tion Day.

Make sure your vote counts on November 4th!

This is a real­ly great video that out­lines how impor­tant it is to make sure that your vote counts on Elec­tion Day. There may not be enough vot­ing machines, your name might not be in the vot­er rolls, you may get asked for ID you don’t have to vote. So its very impor­tant that you know what your rights are, it can be the dif­fer­ence between hav­ing your say on Elec­tion Day or not.



More­over, by know­ing what vot­ers have a right to expect, you can make sure that those around you, vot­ing at your polling place, vot­ers from your com­mu­ni­ty and more! Vot­ers can con­front a num­ber of prob­lems at the polls, from poll work­ers who are not knowl­edge­able about the rules to dif­fi­cul­ties with lan­guage and Eng­lish bal­lots to unfair treat­ment based on race or eth­nic­i­ty. Remem­ber:

-Check your state’s vot­er ID laws to make sure that you have the prop­er iden­ti­fi­ca­tion to vote
‑If you or any­one you know needs help inter­pret­ing the bal­lot, it is your legal right to bring an inter­preter into the booth with you
‑If your name is miss­ing from the rolls, you have a right to vote using a pro­vi­sion­al bal­lot
     Want to learn more about your rights on Elec­tion Day, check out this SAALT resource

If you encounter or wit­ness any bar­ri­ers to the right to vote, call 1–866-OUR-VOTE.

 

 

South Asians in the 2008 elections

How have South Asians been get­ting involved in the 2008 elec­tions? How have the ways that South Asians been involved in the civic and polit­i­cal process changed or evolved? What kind of vot­er turnout can we expect from the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty on Elec­tion Day? What’s at stake for South Asians in this elec­tion?



Hear the answers to these ques­tions and more in “South Asians in the 2008 elec­tions,” SAALT’s pre-elec­tion webi­nar. We were joined by Vijay Prashad (Trin­i­ty Col­lege Pro­fes­sor of Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies and the author of Kar­ma of Brown Folk among oth­er works), Karthick Ramakr­ish­nan (one of the main col­lab­o­ra­tors in the Nation­al Asian Amer­i­can Sur­vey), Seema Agnani (Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Chhaya CDC, a com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment non­prof­it based in Queens, New York), Ali Naj­mi (Co-founder of Desis Vote in New York) and Aparna Shar­ma and Tina Bha­ga Yoko­ta (Mem­bers of South Asian Pro­gres­sive Action Col­lec­tive in Chica­go). The full video of the webi­nar is here<http://www.saalt.org/categories/South-Asians-in-the-2008-Elections-Online-Webinar-/>. Stay tuned for SAALT’s post-elec­tion webi­nar, dur­ing which guests will dis­sect the elec­tion results, report the find­ings of mul­ti­lin­gual exit polling and look for­ward to the tran­si­tion to the new Admin­stra­tion and Con­gress.

History Repeating Itself: Xenophobia in Political Discourse

With mere­ly one week until Elec­tion Day, it seems like can­di­date stump speech­es, pun­dit com­men­tary, and the vol­ley of talk­ing points from all sides are every­where you turn. And if you’re any­thing like me, you’re trans­fixed to cable news and media analy­sis about what’s been hap­pen­ing on the cam­paign trail.

Here at SAALT, we’ve been keep­ing a spe­cial eye on what’s being said in this high­ly-charged polit­i­cal atmos­phere par­tic­u­lar­ly as it relates to the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty. In recent years, we’ve unfor­tu­nate­ly wit­nessed a spate of xeno­pho­bic com­ments being made against our com­mu­ni­ty with­in polit­i­cal dis­course. Such rhetoric has emerged in var­i­ous forms, includ­ing chal­leng­ing the loy­al­ty of those who are or per­ceived to be Mus­lim. Sad­ly, this hear­kens back to the sen­ti­ments and actions that led to bias and dis­crim­i­na­tion against South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties in the after­math of 9/11 and raise con­cerns about the over­all envi­ron­ment lead­ing up to elec­tion. We encour­age the com­mu­ni­ty to remain vig­i­lant about such rhetoric.

Be sure to check out SAALT’s three-part toolk­it on xeno­pho­bia in polit­i­cal dis­course, which includes com­ments made by polit­i­cal fig­ures against the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty, remarks made against South Asian can­di­dates for polit­i­cal office, and tips on how com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers can respond to such rhetoric, which have been fea­tured by UC Davis Law Pro­fes­sor Bill O. Hing over at Immi­gra­tionProf­Blog.

Do you know your rights on Election Day?

Are you required to show your ID to vote?

What do you do if you need help trans­lat­ing the vot­ing mate­ri­als?

Want to know what the answers to these ques­tions are? Then read “
Elec­tions ’08: Know Your Rights on Elec­tion Day”! This new SAALT resource out­lines what vot­ers can expect at the polls like what poll work­ers allowed to ask for and what pro­vi­sions pro­tect your vote. Check it out along with all the oth­er SAALT Elec­tions ’08 resources at www.saalt.org/pages/Elections-2008.html

One “Be the Change” Volunteer’s Experience Registering Voters in NY

Read this post from Parth Savla, Be the Change Vol­un­teer in New York City:

On Oct 4, I had the plea­sure of par­tic­i­pat­ing in SAALT’s Be The Change event by vol­un­teer­ing with Chhaya CDC, locat­ed in Queens, NY on their Vot­er Reg­is­tra­tion dri­ve.  It was a great a expe­ri­ence street can­vass­ing – going up to South Asians and ask­ing them to reg­is­ter to vote.  I was real­ly sur­prised by how many peo­ple were com­pelled to vote for the first time in their lives.  In addi­tion to spread­ing the word about the impor­tance of vot­ing, we were also edu­cat­ing peo­ple on the pub­lic advo­ca­cy work that Chhaya does – pro­vid­ing every­thing from legal ser­vices to grass­roots com­mu­ni­ty devel­op­ment.


Sup­port­ing the vot­er reg­is­tra­tion, I believe, impact­ed the com­mu­ni­ty on a vari­ety of lev­els.  It enabled those who want to make a dif­fer­ence but don’t know where to go, by pro­vid­ing them access to do so.  Deep down, every­one wants to make a dif­fer­ence and sup­port each oth­er, but are often sti­fled by a lack of knowl­edge in how to do so.  By being out there, it pro­vid­ed greater acces­si­bil­i­ty to folks while help­ing them real­ize that they have cham­pi­ons stand­ing for them. 


Street can­vass­ing, I recall fight­ing my reser­va­tions about going up to one passer­by and say­ing:

“Uncle, have you reg­is­tered to vote for this year’s elec­tion?”

 

“No, I have nev­er vot­ed.  Why would it mat­ter?  I’m only one per­son” he replied in his bro­ken accent.

“Do you have chil­dren, uncle?  Are they in school or look­ing for a good pay­ing job or look­ing to get a loan for a house?”

        “Yes.” 

“Uncle, vot­ing in this year’s elec­tion will enable you to vote for the poli­cies that will not only affect their abil­i­ty to do those things, but also to safe­guard your retire­ment.  I can under­stand that you haven’t vot­ed before, nei­ther had my par­ents before this year,” I said empa­thet­i­cal­ly.

“Oh, I did­n’t know it made that much of a dif­fer­ence,” he said as he filled out the vot­er reg­is­tra­tion form.  Once he was done, he took a few more forms to take back to his fam­i­ly.

        “Thank you young man.”

By see­ing you make a dif­fer­ence, they also get inspired to make a dif­fer­ence!  


I want­ed to par­tic­i­pate in “Be the Change” this year because of see­ing the dif­fer­ence that SAALT had made in our col­lab­o­ra­tive efforts dur­ing our YJA (Young Jains of Amer­i­ca – www.yja.org) Con­ven­tion this past July 4th week­end, and being inspired by the pub­lic advo­ca­cy work they’ve done for the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty.  For SAALT’s “Be the Change” efforts this year, they’ve been able to mobi­lize thou­sands of vol­un­teers nation­wide to sup­port count­less projects for the com­mu­ni­ty.  That’s a pret­ty incred­i­ble feat!I was par­tic­u­lar­ly inspired about their Vot­er Reg­is­tra­tion dri­ve, because this the most impor­tant pres­i­den­tial elec­tion of our life­time.  There are many things at stake from our econ­o­my – being able to get loans for col­lege, to get­ting a good job when enter­ing into the job mar­ket – to edu­ca­tion, to retire­ment ben­e­fits for our par­ents.  Being a South Asian Amer­i­can, it was a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to speak to elders in our com­mu­ni­ty about the impor­tance of vot­ing in this year’s elec­tion and enabling their voic­es to be heard.

I knew that being part this event would not only enable me to make a dif­fer­ence but also meet cool peo­ple who shared a sim­i­lar goal to make a dif­fer­ence.  While one per­son can make a impact, many peo­ple who share a col­lec­tive voice and vision can make an expo­nen­tial impact!