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

DJ Rekha @ the Black Cat

On Fri­day night, myself and oth­er SAALT staff mem­bers attend­ed DJ Rekha’s show at the Black Cat.  First off, I have to say: What an amaz­ing show!! I have always been a fan of DJ Rekha’s beats, but see­ing her live was fan­tas­tic.  I also want to thank Rekha and the Black Cat for let­ting SAALT table at the show.  It was refresh­ing to see many famil­iar faces and to know that so many Desis in D.C. already know about SAALT’s work.  I am a fan of Rekha, not only because she is a tal­ent­ed artist, but because she uses her music as a tool for social change.  While it is inspir­ing to see artists like Rekha get­ting involved in the South Asian move­ment, you don’t have to be a DJ to work for change for your com­mu­ni­ty.  Vol­un­teer for Be the Change, orga­nize an event in your local com­mu­ni­ty, or if you haven’t already, become a mem­ber of SAALT.  Thanks again to DJ Rekha for her con­tin­ued sup­port of SAALT and involve­ment in our work!

Anjali Chaudhry is the Mary­land Out­reach Coor­di­na­tor for SAALT.  To learn more about SAALT’s Mary­land Com­mu­ni­ty Empow­er­ment Project and ways you can get involved, email anjali@saalt.org.

Aadi­ti Dubale, SAALT Fel­low (left) and myself (right) tabling at the Black Cat.

9/11 Eight Years Later: A Message from South Asian Organizations

NCSO sepia

9/11 Eight Years Lat­er:  A Mes­sage From South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions
This state­ment is issued by the fol­low­ing mem­bers of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions.
Today, mem­bers of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions (NCSO) join the coun­try in mark­ing the  eighth anniver­sary of the tragedies of Sep­tem­ber 11th, 2001. We solemn­ly remem­ber and hon­or those who lost their lives or loved ones that day.

Like every­one in Amer­i­ca, South Asians in the Unit­ed States were deeply affect­ed by the events on and after Sep­tem­ber 11th. From the days and months after the tragedy to now, our orga­ni­za­tions have addressed a range of issues in our com­mu­ni­ties relat­ed to the post-Sep­tem­ber 11th envi­ron­ment — from help­ing indi­vid­u­als who lost fam­i­ly mem­bers or their liveli­hoods to advo­cat­ing on behalf of those who faced dis­crim­i­na­tion, hate crimes, pro­fil­ing, and arbi­trary deten­tions and inter­ro­ga­tions.

Although it has been eight years since 9/11, many of the poli­cies imple­ment­ed in its after­math con­tin­ue to affect South Asians, such as spe­cial reg­is­tra­tion, bor­der and air­port pro­fil­ing, and arbi­trary deten­tions and depor­ta­tions.

Today, we encour­age all South Asians to hon­or the mem­o­ry of Sep­tem­ber 11th through reflec­tion, ser­vice, and a renewed com­mit­ment to pre­serve jus­tice and equal­i­ty for all.

For more infor­ma­tion about the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions, please vis­it the NCSO web­page here or con­tact saalt@saalt.org or 301.270.1855.

Addi­tion­al Resources and Infor­ma­tion:

Dispatch from New Jersey: Town Hall and Legislative Visits!

In an effort to get the local South Asian com­mu­ni­ty engaged around immi­gra­tion reform, SAALT-NJ, along with com­mu­ni­ty part­ners, held a  ‘Town Hall for South Asians on Immi­gra­tion & Civ­il Rights’ in Jer­sey City on July 27th at the Five Cor­ners Library.   The event, part of the One Com­mu­ni­ty Unit­ed cam­paign, was the sec­ond in a series of com­mu­ni­ty forums that will be held nation­wide as a part of the cam­paign.

The town hall brought togeth­er not only a diverse group of folks with­in the com­mu­ni­ty, but also a diverse coali­tion of local com­mu­ni­ty part­ners, includ­ing: Amer­i­can Friends Ser­vice Com­mit­tee, Andolan, Asian Amer­i­can Legal Defense and Edu­ca­tion Fund, the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Islam­ic Rela­tions (CAIR-NJ), Govin­da San­skar Tem­ple, Man­avi, New Jer­sey Immi­grant Pol­i­cy Net­work, and the Sikh Coali­tion.

Although the focus of the dis­cus­sion at large was around immi­gra­tion reform, the con­ver­sa­tion cov­ered a vari­ety of issues, such as the effects of visa lim­i­ta­tions and back­logs on low-income work­ers and women fac­ing vio­lence in the home; and deten­tion cen­ters and the grow­ing num­ber of detained immi­grants. The con­ver­sa­tion was at once chal­leng­ing and emo­tion­al, as par­tic­i­pants shared per­son­al sto­ries illus­trat­ing how immi­gra­tion laws have neg­a­tive­ly impact­ed their lives and the lives of their loved ones.   Nev­er­the­less, the con­ver­sa­tion end­ed on a pos­i­tive note with ways to stay involved with the cam­paign, and to get more civi­cal­ly engaged around the immi­gra­tion reform con­ver­sa­tion.

In fact, on August 19th, SAALT mem­bers, along with coali­tion mem­bers from NJIPN and New Labor, con­duct­ed an in-dis­trict meet­ing with Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don­ald Payne’s office in Newark, New Jer­sey.  Par­tic­i­pants met with a senior staff mem­ber at the Rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s office to dis­cuss issues around immi­gra­tion and health­care reform.

The del­e­ga­tion high­light­ed key con­cerns to both the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty and the immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty at large, such as (1) the increase in deten­tion and depor­ta­tions post 9–11 and its impact on immi­grant fam­i­lies in the US; (2) fam­i­ly- and employ­ment-based visa back­logs and the need for just and humane immi­gra­tion reform to pre­vent fam­i­lies from being torn apart in the process; and  (3) more con­crete mea­sures in place for immi­grant inte­gra­tion to address issues such as lin­guis­tic and cul­tur­al bar­ri­ers in access­ing ser­vices, and, as a result, becom­ing active and par­tic­i­pat­ing mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty.

The meet­ing was a great expe­ri­ence – it illus­trat­ed to the mem­bers present the sig­nif­i­cance of civic engage­ment, and how impor­tant it is to reach out to our respec­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tives about issues con­cern­ing us. In a polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic cli­mate that seems so anti-immi­grant, it was cer­tain­ly refresh­ing to be able to sit down with the Rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s office to active­ly advo­cate for issues that deeply impact the immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty.  I look for­ward to meet­ing with oth­er local offices in the com­ing month and encour­age oth­ers to try to sched­ule meet­ings with your respec­tive Rep­re­sen­ta­tives while they are home for August recess.

To learn more about SAALT-NJ’s work, please email qudsia@saalt.org

Look­ing for ways to get involved? Here are some ideas:

• Call your mem­ber of Con­gress to express your sup­port for immi­gra­tion reform and strong civ­il rights poli­cies. Find out who your mem­ber of Con­gress is by vis­it­ing www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.

• The Cam­paign to Reform Immi­gra­tion for Amer­i­ca has launched a text mes­sag­ing cam­paign that sends alerts to par­tic­i­pants when a call to action, such as call­ing your Congressman/woman, is urgent­ly need­ed. To receive text mes­sage alerts, sim­ply text ‘jus­tice’ to 69866.

• Stay in touch with local and nation­al orga­ni­za­tions that work with the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty.

• Share your immi­gra­tion or civ­il rights sto­ry with SAALT by fill­ing out this form or send­ing an email to saalt@saalt.org.

One Community United Kickoff Town Hall in Atlanta

From Niralee, one of our amaz­ing sum­mer interns:

On Tues­day, June 16th, SAALT’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Deepa Iyer, along with NCSO part­ner Rak­sha, Indus Bar, the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union of Geor­gia, and Khabar, launched the One Com­mu­ni­ty Unit­ed cam­paign with an inau­gur­al town hall in Atlanta. The event was the first in a series of com­mu­ni­ty forums to be held through­out the coun­try as part of the cam­paign.

The town hall took place at the Glob­al Mall in Atlanta on Tues­day evening, and about forty peo­ple attend­ed the event. The group was very diverse, includ­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives of South Asian orga­ni­za­tions, local stu­dents and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, and mem­bers of local places of wor­ship.

The heart of the dis­cus­sion was immi­gra­tion and human rights. From the very begin­ning, par­tic­i­pants eager­ly engaged in the dis­cus­sion, address­ing issues rang­ing from the rights of immi­grant work­ers, to deten­tion and depor­ta­tion, to the reuni­fi­ca­tion of fam­i­lies. Par­tic­i­pants also dis­cussed how the human rights of immi­grants are often vio­lat­ed in this coun­try. The event closed with a call to action, encour­ag­ing par­tic­i­pants to con­tact their rep­re­sen­ta­tives in Con­gress, stay in touch with orga­ni­za­tions work­ing with the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty, and stay up to date on immi­gra­tion issues.

Many who attend­ed walked away feel­ing inspired to take action on immi­gra­tion reform in their com­mu­ni­ties. Van­dana said, “The town hall was extreme­ly eye-open­ing and thought pro­vok­ing… I am going to chalk-out a plan of action… and def­i­nite­ly con­tact some peo­ple that I know will share the same enthu­si­asm for the [Be the Change] project.” Noshin, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Refugee Reset­tle­ment and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vices of Atlanta, said he would “keep up with bills intro­duced and con­tact [his] rep­re­sen­ta­tives “ and “share [his] immi­gra­tion sto­ry with SAALT.” Many oth­ers expressed a strong desire to go back to their com­mu­ni­ties and address the issues dis­cussed at the town hall.

SAALT left the event look­ing for­ward to future town halls, to be host­ed in the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area, Chica­go, New Jer­sey, and Wash­ing­ton DC. It was great to see so many Atlanta com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers com­ing togeth­er to express their sup­port for immi­gra­tion reform. Over­all, the event was a very excit­ing kick-off for SAALT’s One Com­mu­ni­ty Unit­ed cam­paign.

For more infor­ma­tion about the One Com­mu­ni­ty Unit­ed cam­paign for Civ­il and Immi­grant Rights, vis­it here <http://www.saalt.org/pages/One-Community-United-Campaign.html>.

More Reflections from Atlanta Town Hall for Civil and Immigrant Rights

Here are more reflec­tion on the kick-off town hall in Atlanta, GA of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions’ One Com­mu­ni­ty Unit­ed cam­paign for civ­il and immi­grant rights. This time we’re hear­ing from Nureen Gula­mali, intern at ACLU-Geor­gia  (one of the cospon­sors of the town hall):

I’m lucky to be intern­ing at the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union (ACLU) of Geor­gia this sum­mer and was grate­ful to be a part of the SAALT/ACLU forum.  After attend­ing the Immi­gra­tion Forum, my per­spec­tive has been enlight­ened and tru­ly widened.  Immi­gra­tion is a hot top­ic in today’s world – tell me some­thing I don’t know.  But how it affects the actu­al immi­grants is tru­ly the issue at hand.  I’ve heard accounts of the tri­als and tribu­la­tions that so many peo­ple have had to go through in order to get a bet­ter start in this world, and my heart goes out to them.  The forum itself not only pro­vid­ed more infor­ma­tion to the unin­formed, but allowed for a healthy and knowl­edge­able dis­cus­sion for both the informed and unin­formed.  It’s so impor­tant to stand up for what is right and immi­gra­tion rights are, in essence, human rights.  What know­ing indi­vid­ual wouldn’t stand up for human rights?

So, I sup­pose the more impor­tant ques­tion is, what can we do about it?  Well, real­ly, every­one who was able to make it to the forum has already tak­en the first step – stay informed.  It’s as sim­ple as that.  You can make a dif­fer­ence by stay­ing informed, whether that’s catch­ing up on the cur­rent issues on Google News, or join­ing a human rights advo­ca­cy group (GA Deten­tion Watch, Human Rights Atlanta, Rak­sha, SAALT, etc.).  The more allies we have, the big­ger the impact we can have – not to men­tion strate­gic pull.  So, take ten min­utes a day to read what’s going on in the human rights/immigration front and from there, I swear, it will be plen­ty easy to get involved!

For more infor­ma­tion about the One Com­mu­ni­ty Unit­ed cam­paign for Civ­il and Immi­grant Rights, vis­it here <http://www.saalt.org/pages/One-Community-United-Campaign.html>.

Advocacy Day in Trenton, NJ–South Asian Style!

Poon­am Patel, an intern at SAALT was in atten­dance for South Asian Advo­ca­cy Day in Tren­ton, NJ on March 16th. She shares her expe­ri­ence below. If you want to read more about the South Asian Advo­ca­cy Day, check out this great blog post by Son­ny Singh at the Sikh Coali­tion blog!

On Mon­day, March 16th, I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to attend the first South Asian Advo­ca­cy Day in Tren­ton, New Jersey–an inspir­ing expe­ri­ence, to say the least. Grow­ing up in a tra­di­tion­al Indi­an fam­i­ly with the stig­ma that speak­ing to elect­ed offi­cials at any lev­el is fruit­less, it was reas­sur­ing to see leg­is­la­tors not only respon­sive to the issues dis­cussed but also will­ing to take action—research new means of solv­ing fun­da­men­tal prob­lems whether that involved sup­port­ing exist­ing leg­is­la­tion or intro­duc­ing new ideas.

One of the advo­cates talked about a project their orga­ni­za­tion had developed—grading pub­lic schools in a report card for­mat based on their cul­tur­al com­pe­ten­cy. The leg­is­la­tor that was pre­sent­ed with this idea not only agreed that it was a very effec­tive way of cre­at­ing aware­ness, but also asked for spe­cif­ic details so that the pro­gram could poten­tial­ly be imple­ment­ed in her dis­trict. While I was lis­ten­ing to this exchange take place, it became clear that inno­v­a­tive projects devel­oped by experts in their own fields com­bined with the gov­ern­ment resources can tru­ly have an affect on the com­mu­ni­ty at large.

Fur­ther­more, to see so many com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, advo­cates, and stu­dents col­lec­tive­ly dis­cuss the issues most rel­e­vant to the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty shed light to the fact that they cross bound­aries of all sorts–gender, age, and nation­al ori­gin to name a few.  Even though the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty is so diverse in a num­ber of ways, there are sev­er­al issues we can all relate to such as devel­op­ing com­pre­hen­sive immi­gra­tion reform or cre­at­ing cul­tur­al com­pe­tent resources for com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers. This is what was at the heart of Tren­ton Advo­ca­cy Day. It wasn’t about each indi­vid­ual advo­cat­ing some­thing unique, but a strong, col­lec­tive voice that caught the ears of state leg­is­la­tors.

A Call to Action to Address and End Domestic Violence

Please read this state­ment released by the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions in response to recent domes­tic vio­lence inci­dents includ­ing the trag­ic mur­der of Aasiya Has­san in New York.

February 26th, 2009- As com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions that pro­vide ser­vices to, advo­cate for, and orga­nize South Asians in the Unit­ed States, we are deeply sad­dened by recent trag­ic inci­dents of domes­tic vio­lence that have affect­ed South Asian fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties over the past six months.

The trag­ic mur­der of Aasiya Has­san, a 37-year-old moth­er, who was bru­tal­ly behead­ed in Buf­fa­lo, New York, is the lat­est in a series of recent vio­lent inci­dents that has received com­mu­ni­ty-wide and pub­lic atten­tion.  Ms. Has­san had obtained an order of pro­tec­tion against her hus­band and filed for divorce before the mur­der, which occurred on Feb­ru­ary 12, 2009.

This inci­dent comes on the heels of anoth­er tragedy that occurred in Clifton, New Jer­sey last Novem­ber, when 24-year old Resh­ma James was mur­dered by her estranged hus­band at the church she attend­ed.  And, it fol­lows two mur­ders of fam­i­ly mem­bers, includ­ing chil­dren: one occur­ring in Novi, Michi­gan, where the bod­ies of 37-year-old Jay­alak­sh­mi Rao and her two chil­dren were found, and the oth­er occur­ring in Sor­rente Pointe, Cal­i­for­nia, where the entire Rajaram fam­i­ly (moth­er-in-law, wife,  three chil­dren, and the sui­cide of the hus­band) was found dead last Octo­ber.

Beyond speak­ing out and con­demn­ing these tragedies, we as com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and orga­ni­za­tions must strive to do even more.  As mem­bers of the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty, each of us has a role to play in end­ing vio­lence.

Most impor­tant­ly, we must move beyond the ten­den­cy to reduce acts of domes­tic vio­lence to cul­ture or reli­gion, or any such char­ac­ter­is­tic. The epi­dem­ic of domes­tic vio­lence affects fam­i­lies from all back­grounds and reli­gious faiths; in fact, the inci­dents we describe here occurred in Chris­t­ian, Hin­du and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties.  We must call domes­tic vio­lence what it is, and work both with­in our com­mu­ni­ty and exter­nal­ly, to cre­ate safe spaces and envi­ron­ments.

And, we must under­stand and empathize with vic­tims and sur­vivors of domes­tic vio­lence.  All vic­tims and sur­vivors of domes­tic vio­lence face sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­ers in seek­ing and obtain­ing assis­tance, jus­tice, and sup­port. For South Asians, these bar­ri­ers become even more exac­er­bat­ed.  Many South Asians feel uncom­fort­able reach­ing out to those with­in their own com­mu­ni­ty for fear of being judged, ques­tioned, iso­lat­ed, blamed and stig­ma­tized.  When abuse occurs in non-mar­i­tal or same-sex rela­tion­ships, it can become an even more dif­fi­cult top­ic to broach.  More­over, a lack of cul­tur­al and lin­guis­tic sen­si­tiv­i­ty and tan­gi­ble legal pro­tec­tions can make sur­vivors feel that they have lit­tle recourse in exist­ing laws, the jus­tice sys­tem, law enforce­ment and social ser­vice agen­cies.

Final­ly, we must be ready to address domes­tic vio­lence pub­licly.  Around the coun­try, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, reli­gious lead­ers and social ser­vice agen­cies must take sig­nif­i­cant steps each day to ensure that vic­tims and sur­vivors of domes­tic vio­lence receive the sup­port and assis­tance they need.  Our entire com­mu­ni­ty must be pre­pared to speak out against vio­lence and address it in our homes, places of wor­ship, cul­tur­al cen­ters, and social ser­vice orga­ni­za­tions.

In light of the recent trag­ic inci­dents of domes­tic vio­lence, we offer three con­crete steps that you can take:  first, cre­ate a safe space to talk about domes­tic vio­lence with your fam­i­ly, friends, and sup­port net­works; sec­ond, encour­age your reli­gious, cul­tur­al and civic lead­ers to address the impact of domes­tic vio­lence in pub­lic state­ments, remarks, prayers and ser­mons, and set­tings; and third, sup­port orga­ni­za­tions that strive to end domes­tic vio­lence in our com­mu­ni­ties.

We send this call to action with the hope that com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, reli­gious, cul­tur­al and civic orga­ni­za­tions, pol­i­cy­mak­ers, allies and media will all take on the task of end­ing domes­tic vio­lence. For our part, we remain com­mit­ted to con­tin­u­ing our efforts to advo­cate against vio­lence in any form, to cre­ate safe spaces for all com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, and to press for poli­cies that sup­port and empow­er vic­tims and sur­vivors of vio­lence.

The Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions (NCSO), a net­work of com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions in 12 regions around the Unit­ed States, seeks to ampli­fy a pro­gres­sive voice on pol­i­cy issues affect­ing South Asian com­mu­ni­ties.  For more infor­ma­tion about the NCSO, please con­tact South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) at 301–270-1855 or via email at saalt@saalt.org

Endorsed by:

Adhikaar- New York, NY
Andolan — New York, NY
Apna Ghar - Chica­go, IL
ASHA for Women — Wash­ing­ton DC Area
Chaya - Seat­tle, WA
Chhaya CDC — New York, NY
Coun­cil of Peo­ples Orga­ni­za­tion — New York, NY

Coun­selors Help­ing (South) Asian/Indians — Wash­ing­ton DC Area
Daya — Hous­ton, TX

Ham­dard Cen­ter — Chica­go, IL
Indo-Amer­i­can Cen­ter — Chica­go, IL
Maitri — San Jose, CA
Man­avi — New Brunswick, NJ
Michi­gan Asian Indi­an Fam­i­ly Ser­vices — Livo­nia, MI
Nari­ka — Berke­ley, CA
Rak­sha — Atlanta, GA
Saathi of Rochester — Rochester, NY
Sakhi for South Asian Women — New York, NY
Satrang — Los Ange­les, CA
Sne­ha - West Hart­ford, CT
South Asian Health Ini­tia­tive — New York, NY
Sikh Amer­i­can Legal Defense and Edu­ca­tion Fund — Wash­ing­ton DC
South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er - Wash­ing­ton DC Area

South Asian Youth Action — New York, NY
Trikone NW - Seat­tle, WA
Turn­ing Point for Women and Fam­i­lies — New York, NY

Poverty in the Asian American Community in New York Featuring SAYA!

NewsAs the reces­sion deep­ens and more and more peo­ple around the coun­try find them­selves job­less or stretched thin eco­nom­i­cal­ly, its impor­tant to high­light how dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties are being affect­ed in dif­fer­ent ways. This excel­lent piece from My9 News (New York) reporter Ti Hua Chang. Chang pro­files Asian Amer­i­cans and South Asians liv­ing at or near the pover­ty lev­el in New York. Many work for long hours for low wages and have lit­tle cush­ion as the econ­o­my wors­ens. More­over, few­er Asian Amer­i­cans use gov­ern­ment ser­vices; one of the star­tling facts Chang men­tions is that while Asian Amer­i­cans make up 12% of the city’s pop­u­la­tion, they recieve about 1% of the gov­ern­ment or pri­vate fund­ing. From seniors iso­lat­ed to their apart­ments to the Bangladeshi man work­ing two jobs to build a bet­ter future for his chil­dren, the sto­ries are uni­form­ly heart­break­ing and under­score how these com­mu­ni­ties are suf­fer­ing. The Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of an NCSO part­ner SAYA!, Annet­ta Seecha­ran, speaks to the impor­tance of invest­ing in these com­mu­ni­ties and help­ing them build more secure futures. Check the video out at <http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?et=1102477092076&e=001aIe-v1SY2wJtz3gLloLGdx1EKmzkq4MLylD-QY-vhvtPm4PpNI1fizuFNK7DJ9xNvqE7uIqAHfOuwQFZfhlGgbyZXU4mMQErjoOS5BY3c6v1VRiakPRE5d8nicqHS-RMP1dq69Qg8mw=>

How the Economic Downturn is Affecting Nonprofits

In times of eco­nom­ic cri­sis, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions often see an increase in the need for ser­vices. SAALT’s part­ners who pro­vide ser­vices to South Asian com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers are observ­ing an increased need for hous­ing, job train­ing, and ben­e­fits due to lay­offs, lack of jobs, and the down­turn in the econ­o­my.  At the same time, non-prof­its too are fac­ing the bur­den of the eco­nom­ic cri­sis and are hav­ing to lay off staff, reduce pro­gram­ming, and dip into reserve funds.

As Daniel Gross, a finan­cial edi­tor at Newsweek, point­ed out as ear­ly as June of 2008, dona­tions from indi­vid­ual donors are down from what they used to be. And with 80 per­cent of sup­port to non-prof­its com­ing from 20 per­cent of the peo­ple in Amer­i­ca, any reduc­tion in giv­ing can have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on non-prof­it groups.

How can South Asians who are able to give sup­port the non-prof­its that are so crit­i­cal in our local com­mu­ni­ties? Why give at all? Read an excerpt from a post from Sayu Bho­jwani (for­mer Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Youth Action and former Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs for New York City on the South Asian Philanthropy Project blog about the importance of strategic giving within the South Asian community:

South Asian phil­an­thropy has until recent­ly meant con­tribut­ing to caus­es in the home coun­try and to region­al and reli­gious asso­ci­a­tions here in the U.S. As the com­mu­ni­ty matures, accu­mu­lates wealth, and increas­es in num­ber, more South Asian Amer­i­cans are con­tribut­ing to insti­tu­tions in the Unit­ed States, tar­get­ing resources to issues of con­cern in the com­mu­ni­ty. Strate­gi­cal­ly uti­lized, the “brown dol­lar” can boost the capac­i­ty of fledg­ling orga­ni­za­tions that serve the needs of minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties across the U.S. and can play a crit­i­cal role in shap­ing per­spec­tives about South Asians in the broad­er Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty.

In the fif­teen years or so that I have been work­ing in the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty and in phil­an­thropy, I have been frus­trat­ed by the piece­meal approach that peo­ple often take to phil­an­thropy. South Asians who give, whether they are wealthy or not, are like most oth­ers who give—responsive to a per­son­al­ized request from a friend or col­league, drawn by a per­son­al con­nec­tion to an issue or orga­ni­za­tion, or moti­vat­ed by the need to meet a cer­tain end-of-year lev­el of giv­ing

Read more here <http://southasianphilanthropy.org/2009/02/02/sapp-blog-forum-sayu-bhojwani/>