September 11, 2020

19 years ago today, 3,000 peo­ple were killed on Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001. Our gov­ern­men­t’s response known as the “War on Ter­ror,” has cost more than 500,000 lives world­wide. This num­ber does not even include the lives lost to inter­per­son­al hate vio­lence ignit­ed by this state violence.

Four days after 9/11, Bal­bir Singh Sod­hi, a Sikh busi­ness own­er, was plant­i­ng flow­ers out­side of his gas sta­tion in Mesa, Ari­zona when he was shot and killed. We lat­er learned that his shoot­er had report­ed­ly told a wait­ress at Apple­beesI’m going to go out and shoot some tow­el heads,” and “We should kill their chil­dren, too, because they’ll grow up to be like their par­ents.”

This was the first of 645 inci­dents of vio­lent back­lash aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­cans in the first week after 9/11.

Inci­dents of hate vio­lence tar­get­ing our com­mu­ni­ties have con­tin­ued unabat­ed since since 9/11. SAALT has tracked 679 inci­dents since 2015 alone. Today we renew our com­mit­ment to fight­ing the deeply entrenched fed­er­al poli­cies that emerged from the “War on Ter­ror,” includ­ing the cur­rent Mus­lim Ban.

In those ear­ly days fol­low­ing 9/11, we didn’t stand by and watch as our com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers were harassed, tar­get­ed, and sur­veilled by the gov­ern­ment. We came togeth­er, raised our voic­es, and demon­strat­ed our pow­er. Out of that moment came the cre­ation of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions, the Nation­al South Asian Sum­mit, and the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute and long stand­ing coali­tion part­ner­ships work­ing toward sig­nif­i­cant pol­i­cy wins like the end of the 2002 Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Entry-Exit Reg­is­tra­tion Sys­tem (NSEERS) pro­gram all the way to the recent House pas­sage of the NO BAN Act

In the midst of this cur­rent pub­lic health tragedy that has dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impact­ed Black and brown com­mu­ni­ties and has led to the death of near­ly 200,000 peo­ple in the U.S., we’ve simul­ta­ne­ous­ly seen a dra­mat­ic rise in COVID-relat­ed hate vio­lence attacks tar­get­ing Asian Amer­i­cans. In SAALT’s forth­com­ing COVID-19 report, we mark the dif­fer­ent forms of hate vio­lence, once again ignit­ed by our gov­ern­ment since the pan­dem­ic, which you can pre­view here.

This cur­rent cri­sis, like all crises, has rein­forced that we don’t all expe­ri­ence moments of cri­sis equal­ly. Depend­ing on class, immi­gra­tion sta­tus, caste, reli­gious or eth­nic back­ground, South Asians are tar­get­ed at dif­fer­ent scales and mag­ni­tudes. At SAALT we’re ded­i­cat­ed to acknowl­edg­ing these dis­parate expe­ri­ences, but also what unites us across com­mu­ni­ties. Ear­li­er this month in Irv­ing, Texas, a South Asian fam­i­ly received hate mail say­ing if Indi­an and Chi­nese immi­grants don’t stop tak­ing Amer­i­can jobs, “we will have no choice but to shoot mer­ci­less­ly immi­grants of Chi­nese and Indi­an descent…” White suprema­cists don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly dis­tin­guish with­in our com­mu­ni­ties with the same effi­cien­cy as our gov­ern­ment, which is why build­ing col­lec­tive pow­er is so critical.

On this anniver­sary, we hon­or all the lives destroyed by hate vio­lence and state vio­lence, and ask you to join us in fight­ing racism and white suprema­cy in all its manifestations.

Learn about the impact of 9/11 on South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties by…
- Fol­low­ing the ways in which post‑9/11 poli­cies have changed over the decades, and SAALT’s chang­ing advo­ca­cy in response.
- Watch­ing “Rais­ing our Voic­es”, a doc­u­men­tary about post‑9/11 xeno­pho­bic back­lash.
- Read­ing our month­ly hate reports.

Take a stand against hate vio­lence by…
- Par­tic­i­pat­ing in bystander train­ing.
- Learn­ing about abo­li­tion and strate­gies to com­bat vio­lence that do not involve police.

17 Years After 9/11: Detentions, Deportations, Diminished Civil Rights

Sep­tem­ber 11, 2018

Today marks the 17-year anniver­sary of the trag­ic attacks of Sep­tem­ber 11, 2001. This anniver­sary falls at a time of ram­pant immi­gra­tion enforce­ment and racial pro­fil­ing poli­cies direct­ed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, this esca­la­tion of bru­tal and dis­crim­i­na­to­ry poli­cies is accom­pa­nied by a ris­ing tide of hate vio­lence impact­ing our com­mu­ni­ties. Near­ly two decades after the events of Sep­tem­ber 11th, hate vio­lence tar­get­ing South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties has now sur­passed lev­els only seen imme­di­ate­ly after that tragedy.

SAALT has already doc­u­ment­ed over 400 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric tar­get­ing our com­mu­ni­ties since the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Trag­i­cal­ly, we can now draw a direct link between divi­sive polit­i­cal rhetoric and its role in spurring hate vio­lence: one in five of the hate incidents documented in our 2018 report, Communities on Fire, involved perpetrators who verbally referenced President Trump, one of his administration’s policies, or one of his campaign slogans while committing an act of violence.

Since the events of Sep­tem­ber 11th, suc­ces­sive admin­is­tra­tions have lever­aged a ‘nation­al secu­ri­ty’ lens to advance anti-immi­grant and xeno­pho­bic poli­cies that tar­get our com­mu­ni­ties and our place in this nation. This list of poli­cies that seek to lim­it and exclude our rights includes but is not lim­it­ed to the Patri­ot Act, the Coun­ter­ing Vio­lent Extrem­ism pro­gram, and the Mus­lim Ban. Sev­er­al dev­as­tat­ing poli­cies aimed at immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties have been unveiled in the last year alone. Exam­ples include the deci­sion to ter­mi­nate Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) for indi­vid­u­als from sev­er­al coun­tries includ­ing Nepal, Hon­duras, El Sal­vador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan; a wave of depor­ta­tions of doc­u­ment­ed and undoc­u­ment­ed res­i­dents; sep­a­rat­ing fam­i­lies and detain­ing chil­dren in cages; and denat­u­ral­iz­ing Amer­i­can cit­i­zens. In short, we are in the midst of a cam­paign to cre­ate an Amer­i­ca that is sep­a­rate and unequal for the for­eign-born and their fam­i­lies. The onslaught is slat­ed to con­tin­ue esca­lat­ing through the administration’s plans to fur­ther crim­i­nal­ize immi­grants for uti­liz­ing pub­lic ben­e­fits by issu­ing a ‘pub­lic charge’ rule and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly includ­ing a ques­tion on cit­i­zen­ship sta­tus in the 2020 Census.

It appears this dan­ger­ous con­ver­gence of poli­cies, rhetoric, and vio­lence will not end soon. In April 2018, a Hous­ton Mus­lim woman wear­ing a hijab was stabbed by an attack­er yelling “Oh my God, it’s a r**head” “sand n******” and oth­er racial­ly deroga­to­ry terms. In July and August 2018, two Cal­i­for­nia Sikh men wear­ing tur­bans were vio­lent­ly attacked in sep­a­rate inci­dents. In one inci­dent, the per­pe­tra­tor yelled “Go back to your coun­try!” SAALT con­tin­ues to col­lect data on inci­dents of hate vio­lence in our public, online database, and pro­vides month­ly updates on trends.

Lat­er this week, SAALT will host a Con­gres­sion­al Brief­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Con­gres­sion­al Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Cau­cus (CAPAC) to high­light the inter­sec­tion between cur­rent inci­dents of hate vio­lence, the Mus­lim Ban, and immi­gra­tion enforce­ment. SAALT is com­mit­ted to address­ing the under­ly­ing fac­tors that spur hate vio­lence against our com­mu­ni­ties, includ­ing dis­crim­i­na­to­ry poli­cies and the growth in orga­nized white suprema­cy. We are ded­i­cat­ed to ensur­ing the next decade sees a decline in hate vio­lence and an effort to regain this nation’s core ideals of equal­i­ty and justice.

Young Leaders Institute 2018–2019

Meet the 2018–2019 YLI cohort!
“Build­ing Com­mu­ni­ty Defense”

The 2018–2019 Young Lead­ers Insti­tute (YLI) theme was Com­mu­ni­ty Defense, and projects will take on anti-immi­grant poli­cies and hate vio­lence. Shared below are project descrip­tions from this year’s cohort.

Apoorva Handigol: My project will stem from my senior the­sis research on how antiblack­ness and Black-Brown sol­i­dar­i­ty have man­i­fest­ed over gen­er­a­tions of South Asian Amer­i­cans in Chica­go. I will start with orga­niz­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tive event at my school focus­ing on nar­ra­tives of pain and love among South Asian and Black Amer­i­cans. After this, I will take the project to my com­mu­ni­ty in the Bay Area and reframe this com­mu­ni­ty need as one of sup­port for a group of peo­ple who has gone through much the same as we have, plus oth­er injus­tices we have the priv­i­lege to for­get. I will trans­late what I learned from the event on cam­pus and my research into address­ing my South Asian community’s antiblack­ness, lack of aware­ness of our 150+ years of Black sol­i­dar­i­ty, and need to strength­en our com­mu­ni­ty defense.

Farishtay Yamin: My pro­pos­al cen­ters around cre­at­ing a rapid response sys­tem to ICE activ­i­ty and hate crimes using an app. I would like to use the exist­ing mem­ber base and net­work present in Athens, GA to dupli­cate the mod­el in Nashville, TN.

Hiba Ahmad: My project is to cre­ate a finan­cial lit­er­a­cy pro­gram for prison inmates in aims to reduce recidi­vism rates around the Unit­ed States, which is main­ly caused by lack of attain­able finan­cial edu­ca­tion and resources. US prisons
dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly tar­get peo­ple of col­or, so the successful
imple­men­ta­tion of this pro­gram will hope­ful­ly pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties of col­or against fur­ther unjust detain­ment, and arm them with the edu­ca­tion nec­es­sary to com­bat the dif­fi­cul­ty of reen­ter­ing the workforce.

Mahi Senthikumar: I will explore the inter­sec­tions of rights and reli­gion through a series of pub­lic talks and YouTube videos. By cre­at­ing inter­faith forums to discuss
reli­gion along­side activism, I hope to break down social bar­ri­ers with­in our com­mu­ni­ty and uncov­er shared val­ues which com­pel us to stand togeth­er for justice.

Meghal Sheth: For my project I will be work­ing to co-pro­gram with oth­er cul­tur­al and iden­ti­ty- based groups on Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty in St. Louis’ cam­pus to cre­ate a “Jus­tice Through Free­dom” Week. The week will include a vig­il, call-in, pan­el dis­cus­sion on com­mu­ni­ty defense, and a gala with oth­er var­i­ous stu­dent organizations.

Myra Khushbakht: For my project, I plan to cre­ate an open dis­cus­sion town hall event at Howard in the com­ing aca­d­e­m­ic year. I hope to ini­ti­ate a con­ver­sa­tion about col­orism with­in minori­ties on my campus.

Naisa Rahman: My com­mu­ni­ty defense project will focus on improv­ing my university’s report­ing and response sys­tem for bias, dis­crim­i­na­tion, and harass­ment. My goal is for our insti­tu­tion to respond time­ly to stu­dents and to bet­ter sup­port them dur­ing any crises.

Sarah Rozario: Sarah hopes to cre­ate a video com­posed of her cam­pus com­mu­ni­ty’s immi­grant and undoc­u­ment­ed voic­es address­ing anti-immi­gra­tion poli­cies. The project will pro­vide a space for stu­dents to voice their con­cerns as well as act as a dis­play of support.

Vrinda Trivedi: Com­ing from Ohio, I think sub­ur­ban and rur­al loca­tions are sore­ly over­looked in regards to being seen as spaces con­ducive to com­mu­ni­ty build­ing. There­fore, I would like to find a way to con­nect LGBTQIA+ South Asians, through host­ing a retreat sim­i­lar to YLI, but on a small­er scale, and geared towards address­ing the unique themes faced by LGBTQIA+ South Asians in sub­ur­ban and rur­al spaces.

Yasmine Jafery: My project is cre­at­ing an on cam­pus club that pro­vides a safe space for peers to talk to one anoth­er about dif­fi­cult things they are going through. This club would pro­vide strug­gling stu­dents a place to meet and learn from their peers that are fight­ing sim­i­lar obstacles.

Neha Valmiki: Neha will have a ses­sion on her cam­pus called Break­ing Bar­ri­ers, where will bring in speak­ers to talk about men­tal health in the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty and the
neces­si­ty for civic engage­ment. The goal is to break the stig­ma of men­tal health and to break the idea that your vote does­n’t count. Her goal is it make sure each stu­dents knows that they have a voice and they are valid.

Rupkatha Banarjee: Sum­mits and con­fer­ences often attract large audi­ences and trans­mit mes­sages of sup­port and aware­ness through­out the com­mu­ni­ty. In lieu of stu­dent involve­ment and increased par­tic­i­pa­tion, I aim to orga­nize a TEDx type con­fer­ence with mul­ti­ple speak­ers to expli­cate sto­ries of immi­grants who’ve expe­ri­enced tar­get­ed racial violence.

Jaspreet Kaur: Brown Girl Joy [an IG plat­form] explores the inter­sec­tions of beau­ty one brown girl [includ­ing gen­der non con­form­ing + non­bi­na­ry per­son] at a time. We hope to recon­struct par­a­digms of beau­ty to be more inclu­sive and accept­ing for peo­ple of color.

Sana Hamed: I pro­pose to start SEMS (Shar­ing Every Mus­lims’ Sto­ry), an ini­tia­tive that would serve to unite Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tions on cam­pus through the com­mon thread of sto­ry­telling. The project would include var­i­ous ways to put a pos­i­tive spot­light on who Mus­lims are in Amer­i­ca and would include cre­at­ing short nar­ra­tive videos to be shared through social media, writ­ten fea­tures for an anthol­o­gy, and even a show­case fea­tur­ing Mus­lim cre­atives through which we could fur­ther engage the community.

YLI Reflections: Shifting South Asian Spaces with Sahana

At this moment in the his­to­ry of South Asians in the Unit­ed States, we can­not afford to be com­plic­it. We must mobi­lize in sol­i­dar­i­ty with oth­er mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. The recent detain­ment of immi­grant rights activist leader Ravi Rag­bir demon­strates that those who stand up against injus­tice in our com­mu­ni­ties are the first to be tar­get­ed by this vio­lent, xeno­pho­bic, racist admin­is­tra­tion. We can be remind­ed by Ravi’s release of the pow­er of our com­mu­ni­ties, and the ways in which we can use our bod­ies, minds, and priv­i­lege to resist oppres­sive regimes like the Trump Administration.

At the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute (YLI), I learned about the resilience of South Asian and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties. For over a cen­tu­ry, Mus­lim and Sikh com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed States, as well as in South Asia, have been sur­veilled and tar­get­ed by Islam­o­pho­bic and anti-Sikh insti­tu­tions. South Asian fem­i­nist facil­i­ta­tors like Dr. Maha Hilal, Darak­shan Raja, and Noor Mir remind­ed me of the impor­tance of inter­sec­tion­al work that cen­ters the community’s most mar­gin­al­ized groups and inter­ro­gates all sys­tems of power.

Despite what mis­lead­ing data on Asian & Pacif­ic Islanders in the Unit­ed States sug­gest, South Asians are an incred­i­bly diverse group of peo­ple with a mul­ti­tude of posi­tion­al­i­ties. South Asians need not be homoge­nous to stand, work, and fight in sol­i­dar­i­ty with one anoth­er. Rather, we must do the labor of lis­ten­ing and under­stand­ing each oth­ers’ unique expe­ri­ences and his­to­ries in order to be a true community.

For my YLI project, I focused my ener­gies on build­ing South Asian spaces on my col­lege cam­pus, the Clare­mont Col­leges, ded­i­cat­ed inter­sec­tion­al South Asian activism. Four years ago, there was no space on cam­pus for South Asians to explore ques­tions of iden­ti­ty and posi­tion­al­i­ty in mean­ing­ful ways. Because of the tire­less efforts of a sin­gle South Asian stu­dent, Jin­cy Varugh­ese, a one-per­son com­mit­tee called Desi Table was cre­at­ed just three years ago. Since then, SAMP, a men­tor­ship pro­gram for South Asian first-years and trans­fers has launched, and the Com­mit­tee for South Asian Voic­es (for­mer­ly Desi Table) has put on sev­er­al events, now with 10 devot­ed mem­bers. Genealo­gies like this one inspired me to con­tin­ue push­ing this work for­ward for my YLI project.

This year, the Com­mit­tee for South Asian Voic­es has put on events to explore queer South Asian sto­ries, the caste sys­tem and the Indi­an state, NGOiza­tion and gen­der in India, the Rohingya refugee cri­sis, Indo-Caribbean his­to­ries, pro­cess­ing South Asians in media, dias­poric his­to­ries, and inter­per­son­al vio­lence in South Asian com­mu­ni­ties. Along­side the depart­ment for Fem­i­nist Gen­der Sex­u­al­i­ty Stud­ies at Scripps Col­lege, Equal­i­ty Labs, and sev­er­al oth­er cam­pus groups and depart­ments, Pro­fes­sor Piya Chat­ter­jee and I were able to bring Dalit rights activist Cyn­thia Stephen to cam­pus. Cynthia’s vis­it was an incred­i­ble inter­ven­tion to push all of us to think more deeply about Brah­man­i­cal patri­archy, Dalit-Black sol­i­dar­i­ties, and the con­stant resis­tance of Dalit peo­ple. Cynthia’s vis­it was part of her Dalit His­to­ry Month tour, coor­di­nat­ed in part­ner­ship with Then­mozhi Soundarara­jan of Equal­i­ty Labs. For our final two work­shops of the year, we part­nered with South Asian Net­work (SAN), an orga­ni­za­tion com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing cru­cial ser­vices for South Asians in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, and to cre­at­ing com­mu­ni­ty spaces.

Inspired by the work of Jaha­jee Sis­ters, the Alliance of South Asians Tak­ing Action, Desis Ris­ing Up & Mov­ing, and so many oth­ers, we are fol­low­ing in deep tra­di­tions of South Asian activism in the Unit­ed States. When­ev­er I feel lost or won­der why I do this work, his­to­ries of South Asian resis­tance remind me that I am right where I belong, with­in and along­side community.

To learn more about Equal­i­ty Labs, click here.
To learn more about South Asian Net­work, click here.
To learn more about ASATA, click here.
To learn more about DRUM, click here.

The views and opin­ions expressed in this arti­cle are those of the author and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly reflect the offi­cial pol­i­cy or posi­tion of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT). South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is a nation­al, non­par­ti­san, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that fights for racial jus­tice and advo­cates for the civ­il rights of all South Asians in the Unit­ed States. Our ulti­mate vision is dig­ni­ty and full inclu­sion for all.

YLI 2018–2019 FAQ

Fre­quent­ly Asked Ques­tions | Young Lead­ers Insti­tute 2018- 2019

What is SAALT?

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is a nation­al, non­par­ti­san, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that fights for racial jus­tice and advo­cates for the civ­il rights of all South Asians in the Unit­ed States. Our ulti­mate vision is dig­ni­ty and full inclu­sion for all. 

SAALT is the only nation­al, staffed South Asian orga­ni­za­tion that advo­cates around issues affect­ing South Asian com­mu­ni­ties through a social jus­tice frame­work. SAALT’s strate­gies include advo­cat­ing for just and equi­table pub­lic poli­cies at the nation­al and local lev­el; strength­en­ing grass­roots South Asian orga­ni­za­tions as cat­a­lysts for com­mu­ni­ty change; and inform­ing and influ­enc­ing the nation­al dia­logue on trends impact­ing our com­mu­ni­ties. To learn more about SAALT, please vis­it

What is the Young Lead­ers Institute?

SAALT’s Young Lead­ers Insti­tute is a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty for 15–20 young lead­ers in the US to explore issues that affect South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties; engage in peer exchange; hone lead­er­ship skills; and learn strate­gies and approach­es to social change. The 2017–2018 Insti­tute will be the sixth time this annu­al lead­er­ship devel­op­ment pro­gram will be host­ed by SAALT.

Who can apply for the Young Lead­ers Institute?

U.S. under­grad­u­ate stu­dents and oth­er young adults 17–22 years of age inter­est­ed in cre­at­ing change among South Asian Amer­i­cans on their cam­pus­es or in their com­mu­ni­ties. SAALT wel­comes appli­ca­tions from young lead­ers who are not enrolled in aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions. We also accept appli­cants from all types of aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions includ­ing uni­ver­si­ties, col­leges, com­mu­ni­ty col­leges, voca­tion­al train­ings, etc. Appli­ca­tions of young adults who are old­er and/or in grad­u­ate school will also be accept­ed and considered.

Why is the Young Lead­ers Insti­tute important?

SAALT is com­mit­ted to the lead­er­ship devel­op­ment and sup­port of young adults as agents of pro­gres­sive change among South Asians in the US. The Insti­tute encour­ages par­tic­i­pants to explore their cur­rent lead­er­ship qual­i­ties, chal­lenge them­selves to evolve their lead­er­ship skills, learn from fel­low young lead­ers, and com­mit to advanc­ing social jus­tice in real ways on their cam­pus and in their community.

What is the 2018–2019 theme?

The 2018–2019 Young Lead­ers Insti­tute theme is “Com­mu­ni­ty Defense.” Since our last elec­tion cycle, com­mu­ni­ties of col­or across the U.S. have expe­ri­enced an increase in anti-immi­grant and racial vio­lence. Poli­cies have been enact­ed that remove Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) for over 300,000 indi­vid­u­als, includ­ing Nepal; end the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) pro­gram plac­ing 800,000 young immi­grants, includ­ing at least 23,000 Indi­an and Pak­istani youth, in uncer­tain sta­tus; increased “silent raids” against immi­grants; and ban immi­gra­tion from sev­er­al Mus­lim major­i­ty coun­tries. The poli­cies are fueled by as well as encour­age vio­lence against those most vul­ner­a­ble to their impact, par­tic­u­lar­ly South Asians. 

As we enter the midterm elec­tion cycle, our com­mu­ni­ties are expect­ed to expe­ri­ence a surge in anti-immi­grant poli­cies and hate vio­lence. Those most vul­ner­a­ble with­in the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty include work­ing class, undoc­u­ment­ed, Mus­lim, Sikh, and caste oppressed groups. It is imper­a­tive to learn from our expe­ri­ences of not just the past elec­tion cycle but the long stand­ing his­to­ry of racism and xeno­pho­bia in the U.S. We must cre­ate com­mu­ni­ty defense sys­tems through civic engage­ment that at the heart pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ty from harm and depor­ta­tion from this coun­try. It must antic­i­pate needs as well as incor­po­rate long term and short term offen­sive strategies. 

The 2018–2019 cohort will iden­ti­fy strate­gies and craft projects to sup­port those high­ly impact­ed at their aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tions and/or local South Asian com­mu­ni­ties. We encour­age projects that cen­ter and uplift undoc­u­ment­ed, work­ing class and poor, Mus­lim, Sikh, and caste oppressed groups. All projects should also incor­po­rate a civic engage­ment and social media cam­paign component. 

What is civic engagement?

The Insti­tute theme folds in a crit­i­cal civic engage­ment com­po­nent. Civic engage­ment is defined for the cur­rent pur­pos­es by an inter­est and will­ing­ness by indi­vid­u­als, res­i­dents, and con­stituents to engage with deci­sion-mak­ers, stake­hold­ers, and peers (appoint­ed and elect­ed, cam­pus-based and exter­nal) as well as deci­sion-mak­ing process­es to make their voic­es, opin­ions, and pri­or­i­ties heard. Civic engage­ment is not lim­it­ed to or pred­i­cat­ed upon activ­i­ties or efforts that involve vot­ing or the vot­ing process, or U.S. cit­i­zens (who are gen­er­al­ly, apart from some excep­tions, the only indi­vid­u­als who can vote in the U.S.). At its essence, civic engage­ment is defined as indi­vid­u­als who choose to orga­nize them­selves and oth­ers toward col­lec­tive action to weigh in, engage, and voice their opin­ions on how to address press­ing issues that need to be improved, repli­cat­ed, or addressed in their community. 

For the pur­pos­es of cam­pus-based projects around address­ing and build­ing com­mu­ni­ty defense sys­tems in South Asian and cam­pus com­mu­ni­ties, civic engage­ment can involve a vari­ety of actions. Please note, the fol­low­ing are exam­ples only. Appli­cants are encour­aged to sub­mit their own inno­v­a­tive and cre­ative project ideas, includ­ing but not lim­it­ed to projects that pro­mote civic engage­ment through art!

  • Orga­niz­ing stu­dents to part­ner with local com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions on prob­lem­at­ic local, state, or nation­al poli­cies crim­i­nal­iz­ing immi­grants and peo­ple who are undocumented.
  • Build­ing coali­tion with stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions of col­or to estab­lish an Equi­ty Advi­sor posi­tion in stu­dent gov­ern­ment that works with the admin­is­tra­tion to cre­ate and imple­ment equi­table poli­cies and prac­tices on campus.
  • Rais­ing con­cerns with the cam­pus admin­is­tra­tion and shift­ing insti­tu­tion­al prac­tices and cam­pus police com­pli­ance with poli­cies that dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly tar­get immi­grants and peo­ple who are undocumented.
  • Train stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions to sup­port immi­grant and undoc­u­ment­ed peers in cri­sis and build cam­pus coali­tions to sup­port insti­tu­tion­al cul­ture change.
  • Orga­niz­ing a speak-out for stu­dents to voice how they see anti-immi­grant and xeno­pho­bic prac­tices & sen­ti­ment man­i­fest on their cam­pus­es and in the actions of administrators.
  • Orga­niz­ing let­ter-writ­ing or post­card cam­paigns in sup­port of incar­cer­at­ed immi­grants, par­tic­u­lar­ly those detained by Immi­gra­tion and Cus­toms Enforce­ment (ICE).
  • Host­ing forums/ town halls for cam­pus com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers to share their expe­ri­ences of aca­d­e­m­ic insti­tu­tion poli­cies that are anti-immi­grant and dis­cuss how to advo­cate for change.
  • Advo­cate for and estab­lish a sup­port cen­ter for immi­grant and undoc­u­ment­ed students.
  • Sup­port­ing local orga­niz­ing efforts to insti­tute leg­is­la­tion that advances immi­grant jus­tice such as hate-free zones, anti-racist train­ing for law enforce­ment, and pro­hi­bi­tions on racial pro­fil­ing. A strong exam­ple from with­in our NCSO is DRUM (Desis Ris­ing Up and Mov­ing) sup­port­ing the cre­ation of Hate Free Zones, build­ing rela­tion­ships between indi­vid­u­als, orga­ni­za­tions, and busi­ness­es to “defend com­mu­ni­ties from work­place raids, depor­ta­tions, mass crim­i­nal­iza­tion, vio­lence, and sys­temic vio­la­tion of [their] rights and dignity.”
  • Cre­ate a cam­pus wide artis­tic dis­play that address­es an anti-immi­grant pol­i­cy spe­cif­ic to your institution. 

Note: Com­pet­i­tive appli­ca­tions will reflect detailed project pro­pos­als that include iden­ti­fy­ing cam­pus or com­mu­ni­ty groups that work with South Asian and/or oth­er mar­gin­al­ized immi­grant pop­u­la­tions and devel­op a strat­e­gy for a civic engage­ment project in col­lab­o­ra­tion with that group. 

How does the Insti­tute work?

The Young Lead­ers Insti­tute requires full par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fol­low­ing commitments:

  • On-site 3‑day inten­sive train­ing in the Wash­ing­ton, DC metro area on July 25–27, 2018
  • Cre­ation of a project address­ing com­mu­ni­ty defense through civic engage­ment on your cam­pus or in your com­mu­ni­ty that meet spe­cif­ic education/awareness and social change objectives
  • Com­ple­tion of cam­pus or com­mu­ni­ty projects by April 30, 2019
  • Month­ly group report-back, peer exchange, and sup­port calls (August–November; February–April)
  • Com­ple­tion of writ­ten report-back, pro­gram eval­u­a­tion, and addi­tion­al request­ed materials

What is your grad­u­a­tion policy?

Par­tic­i­pants must be able to com­mit to and ful­fill all above require­ments in order to grad­u­ate from the Insti­tute. Par­tic­i­pants who com­plete all require­ments will be con­sid­ered 2018–2019 Young Lead­ers Insti­tute Fel­lows and have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to fur­ther engage with SAALT’s work.

SAALT rec­og­nizes that many young lead­ers have work, fam­i­ly, and oth­er impor­tant oblig­a­tions that may be con­nect­ed to income, health, and so forth. SAALT is com­mit­ted to work­ing with each young leader accept­ed into the pro­gram to sup­port their ful­fill­ment of com­mit­ments or to work togeth­er on alter­na­tives in the event of exten­u­at­ing circumstances.

Why do I want to be a 2018–2019 Young Lead­ers Insti­tute Fellow?

Par­tic­i­pants will devel­op lead­er­ship skills; under­stand key issues affect­ing South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties in a social change con­text; and con­nect their cam­pus and com­mu­ni­ty with South Asian orga­ni­za­tions and lead­ers. A few exam­ples of the work of fel­lows after grad­u­at­ing from the Institute:

  • Served as an Ameri­Corps Pub­lic Allies pro­gram at the Flori­da Immi­grant Coalition
  • Served as a sum­mer intern at SAALT and var­i­ous South Asian organizations
  • Orga­nized cam­pus work­ers to fight for liv­ing wages
  • Orga­nized a mul­ti-lin­gual health resource fair for  immi­grant com­mu­ni­ty members
  • Host­ed an arts show­case uplift­ing immi­grant narratives 
  • Com­plet­ed an anthol­o­gy high­light­ing the expe­ri­ences of queer Desis in the US

How does the Insti­tute sup­port diversity?

The 2018 Insti­tute encour­ages appli­cants diverse in eth­nic­i­ty, coun­try of ori­gin, immi­gra­tion sta­tus, socioe­co­nom­ic sta­tus, caste, sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion, gen­der iden­ti­ty, abil­i­ty, and religion.

How much does this cost? What does SAALT provide?

SAALT will pro­vide the fol­low­ing to accept­ed candidates:

  • Round trip air, train, or bus fare to the July 25–27 on-site train­ing. Mode of trans­porta­tion will depend on your depar­ture point and will be cho­sen by SAALT (round-trip fare is restrict­ed to trav­el­ing from a city to DC and return­ing to the same city).
  • Hotel accom­mo­da­tion (shared room) for the nights of July 25, 26, and 27
  • On-site train­ing from July 25–27
  • Break­fast, lunch, and din­ner on July 25 and 26; break­fast and lunch on July 27
  • Month­ly group calls for report backs, peer exchange, and support
  • All oth­er expens­es, such as pub­lic trans­porta­tion and taxi fares, addi­tion­al meals or activ­i­ties, and extend­ed hotel stay are the participant’s responsibility

How do I apply? What is the appli­ca­tion deadline?

Inter­est­ed appli­cants should review infor­ma­tion about SAALT, the Insti­tute, and com­plete an application. 

All appli­ca­tions should:

  • Record respons­es direct­ly into the Word doc­u­ment application
  • Be sub­mit­ted as one PDF document
  • Saved as “Name of Applicant_2018YLIApplication”

Sub­mit com­plet­ed appli­ca­tions to Almas Haider at by May 29th, 2018.

Only final can­di­dates will be con­tact­ed direct­ly. If you have any ques­tions regard­ing YLI or your appli­ca­tion before May 25th, 2018, con­tact or 301.270.1855.

What does a com­pet­i­tive appli­ca­tion look like?

A com­pet­i­tive appli­ca­tion will demonstrate:

  • An inter­est in effect­ing pro­gres­sive change on a col­lege cam­pus or community. 
  • Reflect a com­mit­ment to build­ing com­mu­ni­ty defense sys­tems through civic engage­ment in the South Asian Amer­i­can and ally community. 
  • Include ideas about real­is­tic, scaled projects to enact this change and have the ini­tia­tive, com­mit­ment, and resource­ful­ness to imple­ment those ideas. 
  • Include a social media cam­paign and/or com­po­nent in their project plan.
  • A will­ing­ness to share expe­ri­ences and learn­ing from train­ers and peers. 
  • Seek to con­nect their projects with a mem­ber orga­ni­za­tion of the Nation­al Coali­tion of South Asian Orga­ni­za­tions (NCSO) wher­ev­er pos­si­ble. SAALT does real­ize that because capac­i­ty and South Asian pop­u­la­tions vary great­ly across the coun­try, an NCSO orga­ni­za­tion may not be in or near an applicant’s city of res­i­dence and will take this into account. 

Appli­ca­tion for the 2018–19 Young Lead­ers Insti­tute is now closed. Check back for more updates soon.

YLI Reflections: Combating Islamophobia with Rupa Palanki

My high school his­to­ry teacher, quot­ing Mark Twain, often said, “His­to­ry doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” For cen­turies in the Unit­ed States, minor­i­ty groups, rang­ing from East­ern Euro­pean immi­grants to Japan­ese Amer­i­cans, have faced dis­crim­i­na­tion from more estab­lished pop­u­la­tions due to a sense of “oth­er­ness” that they are invari­ably per­ceived to dis­sem­i­nate. This has result­ed in dark chap­ters of his­to­ry in a nation that prides itself as “the home of the free and the brave.” The recent rise in hatred against Mus­lims is just anoth­er iter­a­tion of the same story.

With the 9/11 attacks hap­pen­ing only three years after I was born, life, as I know it, has includ­ed a con­stant under­cur­rent of back­lash in the Unit­ed States against Mus­lims. At present, the cur­rent admin­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to relent­less­ly engage in anti-Mus­lim rhetoric and news head­lines con­tin­ue to blame Islam for select acts of vio­lence per­pet­u­at­ing false, neg­a­tive per­cep­tions of the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty. At school and in my city, I have per­son­al­ly wit­nessed how lack of a nuanced under­stand­ing breeds big­otry and dis­crim­i­na­tion. Many peo­ple in my home­town in Alaba­ma have nev­er left the state or inter­act­ed with Mus­lims before, and their bias towards Mus­lims stems from stereo­types that have been per­pe­trat­ed over gen­er­a­tions. And often at col­lege, I am the first South Asian Amer­i­can that my peers have con­versed with for an extend­ed peri­od of time, lead­ing them to ask ques­tions about my cul­ture, reli­gion, and lan­guage or mis­tak­en­ly iden­ti­fy­ing me as Mus­lim instead of Hindu.

Because of this per­son­al expo­sure to islam­o­pho­bia, I devel­oped a desire to bet­ter under­stand the phe­nom­e­non and to equip myself to com­bat it with­in my com­mu­ni­ty. This, in part, was what moti­vat­ed me to apply for SAALT’s Young Lead­ers’ Insti­tute last sum­mer. Dur­ing the train­ing in Wash­ing­ton D.C., I devel­oped the orga­ni­za­tion­al and lead­er­ship tools nec­es­sary to car­ry out effec­tive change. Speak­ers like Noor Mir and Deepa Iyer shared fas­ci­nat­ing insights on dif­fer­ent aspects of islam­o­pho­bia that rein­forced the impor­tance of under­stand­ing it in the con­text of insti­tu­tion­al­ized racism like anti-black­ness and colo­nial­ism, as well as pro­vid­ed mean­ing­ful insights on the resilience and sol­i­dar­i­ty nec­es­sary to work in the social jus­tice field. I appre­ci­at­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet activists and stu­dent lead­ers from oth­er col­leges and the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss the speci­fici­ty of our expe­ri­ences as South Asian Amer­i­cans. I had nev­er real­ly had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to explore my iden­ti­ty as a South Asian Amer­i­can so exten­sive­ly before.

This pro­pelled me to begin to shape my own project that I car­ried out over the course of the aca­d­e­m­ic year to work against bias­es with­in my col­lege com­mu­ni­ty. This spring, I worked in con­junc­tion with oth­er South Asia Soci­ety mem­bers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia to plan a Sym­po­sium for Aware­ness of South Asian Issues (SASAI), a week-long inter­col­le­giate con­fer­ence to cre­ate aware­ness for social jus­tice issues and to encour­age activism in its many facets. The week’s events includ­ed a keynote address from 2014 Miss Amer­i­ca Nina Davu­luri, a fundrais­er for a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion fight­ing mal­nu­tri­tion in South Asia, and a series of dis­cus­sions cov­er­ing social issues like islam­o­pho­bia. With a mix of both fun cul­tur­al pro­gram­ming and deep polit­i­cal con­ver­sa­tions, SASAI encour­aged par­tic­i­pa­tion not only from a diverse range of South Asians but through­out the minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ty at Penn. By the end of the week, we found it inspir­ing to see that our efforts to make our cam­pus a more inclu­sive space for all were rewarded.

Pho­tos from the aware­ness sym­po­sium Rupa helped orga­nize in the Uni­ver­si­ty of Pennsylvania.

As the incred­i­bly pas­sion­ate, intel­li­gent, and social­ly con­scious indi­vid­u­als that made up my Young Lead­ers’ Insti­tute cohort car­ry out their projects over the course of this year, I hope to see vis­i­ble change with­in the com­mu­ni­ties that they tar­get, just as I hope that my actions have spurred. How­ev­er, our work can­not be done alone. As Pres­i­dent Oba­ma notably wrote in his final mes­sage to the Amer­i­can peo­ple as Com­man­der in Chief, “Amer­i­ca is not the project of any one per­son. The sin­gle most pow­er­ful word in our democ­ra­cy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We the Peo­ple.’ ‘We shall over­come.’” Together, we must push forward the fight against islamophobia, for this is not a matter of one culture or religion or language or social class; it is a struggle for achieving equality for all people.


The views and opin­ions expressed in this arti­cle are those of the author and do not nec­es­sar­i­ly reflect the offi­cial pol­i­cy or posi­tion of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT). South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is a nation­al, non­par­ti­san, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that fights for racial jus­tice and advo­cates for the civ­il rights of all South Asians in the Unit­ed States. Our ulti­mate vision is dig­ni­ty and full inclu­sion for all.




This Week in Hate: hate continues to rise, our communities continue to suffer


Ear­li­er this year, SAALT released our post-elec­tion analy­sis of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric called “Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire.” Dur­ing the first year fol­low­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion (Novem­ber 7, 2016 to Novem­ber 7, 2017)—we doc­u­ment­ed 302 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at our com­mu­ni­ties, an over 45% increase from our pre­vi­ous analy­sis in just one year. An astound­ing eighty-two percent of inci­dents were moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment. Addi­tion­al­ly, One out of every five per­pe­tra­tors of hate vio­lence inci­dents ref­er­enced Pres­i­dent Trump, a Trump admin­is­tra­tion pol­i­cy (“Mus­lim Ban”), or Trump cam­paign slogn (“Make Amer­i­ca Great Again”) while com­mit­ting the attack.

Since Novem­ber 7, 2017, which marked one year since the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, SAALT has doc­u­ment­ed 40 additional inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric. Three of the eight instances of xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric were anti-Mus­lim videos retweet­ed by Pres­i­dent Trump in a sin­gle day.[1]

Fourteen of the thir­ty-two inci­dents of hate vio­lence were verbal/written assaults, fol­lowed by twelve inci­dents of prop­er­ty dam­age, and six phys­i­cal assaults. The cumu­la­tive post-elec­tion total is shown in Fig­ure 1 below com­pared to the year lead­ing up to the pres­i­den­tial election.

Emerging Trends

Property Damage

On Decem­ber 1, 2017, Bernardi­no Bolatete was arrest­ed for plan­ning to “shoot up” the Islam­ic Cen­ter of North­east Flori­da.[2] He told an under­cov­er detec­tive, “I just want to give these freak­ing peo­ple a taste of their own med­i­cine, you know? They are the ones who are always doing these shoot­ings, the killings.” Fol­low­ing this event, four more mosques were van­dal­ized around the coun­try. Mosques in Upper Dar­by, PA[3]; Clo­vis, NM[4], and Queens, NY[5] were van­dal­ized with “Trump”, “Terr-” “911” and oth­er anti-mus­lim phrases.

In tune with the dis­turb­ing trend of Mosque van­dal­ism, Tah­nee Gon­za­les and Eliz­a­beth Dauen­hauer tres­passed the Islam­ic Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter of Tempe, Ari­zona. While on Face­book lives, the women stole the masjid’s edu­ca­tion­al mate­r­i­al and called Mus­lims “dev­il-wor­ship­pers” who are destroy­ing “Amer­i­ca.” The women also encour­aged their chil­dren to par­tic­i­pate in anti-Mus­lim behavior.

Continued Targeting of Sikh Americans

Twen­ty-two per­cent of hate inci­dents we doc­u­ment­ed in “Com­mu­nites on Fire” tar­get­ed men who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab. Per­pe­tra­tors of hate crimes often use the reli­gious pre­sen­ta­tion of tur­ban-wear­ing Sikh men to tar­get them. Our report found over sev­en inci­dents of hate vio­lence aimed direct­ly against Sikhs Amer­i­cans, which reflect­ed a sig­nif­i­cant dis­con­nect between SAALT’s com­mu­ni­ty-report­ed and pub­licly-sourced data and data report­ed to the FBI.

In Jan­u­ary 2018, at least three inci­dents of hate vio­lence tar­get­ed Sikh men. In Belle­vue, Wash­ing­ton, an unknown per­pe­tra­tor took a ham­mer from his bag and swung it against the head of Swarn Singh, caus­ing his head to bleed.[6] At the AM/PM con­ve­nience store in Fed­er­al Way, Wash­ing­ton, a man threat­ened to kill a Sikh employ­ee and told him to “go back where you came from.”[7] Lat­er in the month, a Sikh Uber dri­ver, Gur­jeet Singh, picked up a cou­ple in Moline, Illi­nois.[8] The male sus­pect put a gun to Singh’s head say­ing that he hat­ed “tur­ban people.”

Addi­tion­al­ly, on March 3, 2018 Chad Horse­ly plowed his pick­up truck into Best Stop Con­ve­nience Store because he thought the store own­ers were Mus­lim; they were Sikh Amer­i­cans.[9]  On Feb­ru­ary 20, 2018, a Sikh gas sta­tion own­er was called a “ter­ror­ist” and told that he should “go back to his own coun­try.” When the vic­tim tried to take pho­tos of the vehi­cle license plate, Steven Laver­ty exit­ed the vehi­cle and tried to punch the vic­tim and took his phone.[10] On Feb­ru­ary 1, 2018, Pit Stop Gas Sta­tion in Ken­tucky, owned by a Sikh Amer­i­can, was found van­dal­ized with swastikas, “white pow­er,” “leave,” and “f**k you,” spray-paint­ed on its exte­ri­or.[11]

While we rec­og­nize that many instances of hate vio­lence or xeno­pho­bic rhetoric against our com­mu­ni­ties go unre­port­ed, we at SAALT remain com­mit­ted in refus­ing to nor­mal­ize hate. Down­load our report “Com­mu­nites on Fire”, to read more about our rec­om­men­da­tions on how to com­bat hate vio­lence and address the under­ly­ing sys­tems and struc­tures that pro­duce this violence.













South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a nation­al, non­par­ti­san, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that fights for racial jus­tice and advo­cates for the civ­il rights of all South Asians in the Unit­ed States. Our ulti­mate vision is dig­ni­ty and full inclu­sion for all.

SAALT ful­fills our mis­sion through:

  • Advo­cat­ing for just and equi­table pub­lic poli­cies at the nation­al and local level;
  • Strength­en­ing grass­roots South Asian orga­ni­za­tions as cat­a­lysts for com­mu­ni­ty change;
  • Inform­ing and influ­enc­ing the nation­al dia­logue on trends impact­ing our communities.

SAALT is the only nation­al, staffed South Asian orga­ni­za­tion that advo­cates around issues affect­ing South Asian com­mu­ni­ties through a social jus­tice framework.

The Posi­tion:

Report­ing to the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, the Direc­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions will be respon­si­ble for devel­op­ing and exe­cut­ing the organization’s over­all strate­gic com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­e­gy span­ning tra­di­tion­al and social media. In addi­tion, the Direc­tor will be work­ing with the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor and exter­nal devel­op­ment con­sul­tants to expand, and strength­en, the organization’s resources with a focus on indi­vid­ual donors. It is antic­i­pat­ed that short term the split of respon­si­bil­i­ties will be 75% com­mu­ni­ca­tions and 25% indi­vid­ual donor cultivation.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions-relat­ed respon­si­bil­i­ties include: 

  • Iden­ti­fy­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to expand SAALT’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions pres­ence and efforts across core issue areas, South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, and regions, includ­ing draft­ing press releas­es and media advi­sories; mon­i­tor­ing and expand­ing its social media pres­ence and strategy;
  • Devel­op­ing proac­tive rela­tion­ships with main­stream and eth­nic media jour­nal­ists to ampli­fy SAALT’s work and the pri­or­i­ties of South Asian immi­grant communities;
  • Work­ing close­ly with the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor to write and place op-eds that exam­ine press­ing issues for South Asian communities;
  • Draft­ing lan­guage for emails, newslet­ters, and oth­er forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tions to reach SAALT’s diverse audiences.
  • Imple­ment­ing a rapid response plan that bal­ances SAALT’s efforts toward its core pol­i­cy work with engage­ment on emerg­ing issues, needs
  • Man­ag­ing SAALT’s web­site and its content.
  • Pro­vid­ing event man­age­ment sup­port which involves man­ag­ing all the optics for SAALT relat­ed events includ­ing ven­dor rela­tion­ships as need­ed (i.e. pho­tog­ra­phers, video­g­ra­phers, etc.). Exam­ples of events include the SAALT Sum­mit, Lob­by Days, Con­gres­sion­al Brief­in­gs, etc.

Resource devel­op­ment respon­si­bil­i­ties include: 

  • Strength­en­ing SAALT’s fundrais­ing capac­i­ty, with an empha­sis on indi­vid­ual donor com­mu­ni­ca­tions and cultivation;
  • Devel­op­ing and exe­cut­ing a com­mu­ni­ca­tions strat­e­gy focused on cur­rent and prospec­tive indi­vid­ual donors;
  • Imple­ment­ing an indi­vid­ual donor fundrais­ing plan includ­ing donor research and craft­ing mes­sages for indi­vid­ual donors; man­ag­ing solic­i­ta­tion cam­paigns and events aimed at indi­vid­u­als, and coor­di­nat­ing SAALT’s donor cul­ti­va­tion efforts in close part­ner­ship with the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, exter­nal con­sul­tants and the SAALT Board of Directors;
  • Col­lab­o­rat­ing with indi­vid­ual donor devel­op­ment con­sul­tants around the country;
  • Assist Exec­u­tive Direc­tor with oth­er spe­cial projects, as necessary.

Ide­al Can­di­date Profile:

  • Min­i­mum of five to sev­en years of expe­ri­ence in com­mu­ni­ca­tions, mar­ket­ing, resource devel­op­ment or phil­an­thropy with­in a social jus­tice organization.
  • Excel­lent writ­ing, ana­lyt­ic, and verbal/presentation skills with the abil­i­ty to sum­ma­rize infor­ma­tion and con­nect with a vari­ety of audiences.
  • Expe­ri­ence with web site design and con­tent management.
  • Expe­ri­ence with var­i­ous social media plat­forms includ­ing Face­book and Twitter.
  • Demon­strat­ed self-starter with abil­i­ty to iden­ti­fy and pur­sue strate­gic opportunities.
  • Suc­cess­ful track record of artic­u­lat­ing, eval­u­at­ing, mea­sur­ing, and report­ing goals and successes/areas of improvement.
  • Demon­strat­ed abil­i­ty and expe­ri­ence in being cre­ative and self-direct­ed while man­ag­ing and pri­or­i­tiz­ing mul­ti­ple tasks and roles.
  • Demon­strat­ed abil­i­ty to think strate­gi­cal­ly, have a flex­i­ble approach to work, and quick­ly adapt and piv­ot to chang­ing needs in a dynam­ic non-prof­it environment.
  • Demon­strat­ed abil­i­ty to work inde­pen­dent­ly in a fast paced and col­lab­o­ra­tive team-based environment.
  • Excep­tion­al email man­age­ment skills and abil­i­ty to thrive in a high-vol­ume email office.
  • Pro­fi­cien­cy in Microsoft Office suite and abil­i­ty to quick­ly learn oth­er basic programs.
  • Com­mit­ment to and pas­sion for social jus­tice issues and to a career in the non-prof­it sector.
  • Under­stand­ing of and com­mit­ment to advanc­ing and enhanc­ing SAALT’s mission.
    Com­mit­ment to an office cul­ture where cre­ativ­i­ty and diver­si­ty are celebrated.
  • Sense of humor and famil­iar­i­ty with Cus­tomer Rela­tion­ship Man­age­ment (CRM) data­bas­es such as SALSA are a plus.
  • Trav­el with­in the Unit­ed States may be required.


SAALT will pro­vide com­pen­sa­tion for this posi­tion com­men­su­rate with expe­ri­ence. A gen­er­ous vaca­tion pol­i­cy and health, den­tal, vision, and trans­porta­tion stipend ben­e­fits will also be provided.

To Apply

Please sub­mit a resume and cov­er let­ter to  Inter­views will be sched­uled with select­ed can­di­dates on a rolling basis. No phone calls please.

Down­load job descrip­tion here.


BLOG: Why You Can’t Be Neutral About Net Neutrality — Civil Rights At Stake

Tomor­row, the Fed­er­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion (FCC) will vote on a plan to reverse its 2015 “Open Inter­net Order,” which estab­lished net neu­tral­i­ty, ensur­ing that all online con­tent is treat­ed equal­ly by inter­net ser­vice providers. Essen­tial­ly, net neu­tral­i­ty pre­vents com­pa­nies like Com­cast, Ver­i­zon, and AT&T from block­ing, slow­ing down, or speed­ing up online con­tent based on the user and their abil­i­ty to pay for faster or increased ser­vices. Elim­i­nat­ing net neu­tral­i­ty allows inter­net ser­vice providers to charge user fees at their dis­cre­tion for access to cer­tain content.

In this dig­i­tal age, the inter­net has been a way for poor and work­ing class fam­i­lies to con­nect with crit­i­cal employ­ment, health ser­vices, and even legal assis­tance. These issues impact all of us, includ­ing South Asian Amer­i­cans. At SAALT, our online intake form for indi­vid­u­als who have expe­ri­enced hate vio­lence or dis­crim­i­na­tion is an impor­tant inter­net tool that allows us to direct peo­ple to legal ser­vices. Cre­at­ing a “pay to play” envi­ron­ment threat­ens the abil­i­ty of the poor and work­ing class to get these impor­tant resources. Numer­ous stud­ies, includ­ing a recent inves­ti­ga­tion by the Cen­ter for Pub­lic Integri­ty, reveal that fam­i­lies in poor areas are five times less like­ly to have access to high-speed inter­net than fam­i­lies in afflu­ent areas. Allow­ing inter­net ser­vice providers to charge user fees fur­ther restrains access to online con­tent and widens this dis­par­i­ty even fur­ther, which throt­tles civ­il rights..

Black-led media jus­tice orga­ni­za­tions like the Cen­ter for Media Jus­tice and the Voic­es for Inter­net Free­dom Coali­tion have defend­ed net neu­tral­i­ty for decades and were instru­men­tal in the FCC’s 2015 deci­sion to cod­i­fy net neu­tral­i­ty. Their tire­less work has shown the impor­tance of an open inter­net for social jus­tice orga­niz­ing, health­care access, rapid response to nation­al dis­as­ters, and con­tent cre­ation for artists, just to name a few. All of these rea­sons should be enough for South Asian Amer­i­cans to join the fight to pre­serve net neu­tral­i­ty. But dig­ging fur­ther into recent demo­graph­ic data shows exact­ly how many poor South Asian Amer­i­cans would be hurt by the elim­i­na­tion of net neutrality.

Accord­ing to recent­ly released data from the Pew Research Cen­ter, there are cur­rent­ly 5 mil­lion South Asian Amer­i­cans liv­ing in the Unit­ed States. Of those, over 10% or more than half a mil­lion live in pover­ty. For Nepalese and Bangladeshi Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties, this fig­ure is near­ly 25%, and for Bhutanese Amer­i­cans, this fig­ure jumps to 33%. With these stag­ger­ing lev­els of pover­ty and inequal­i­ty in our com­mu­ni­ty alone, it is crit­i­cal that we under­stand net neu­tral­i­ty as more than a polit­i­cal­ly charged issue, but a fun­da­men­tal civ­il rights issue.

We must also con­sid­er the back­drop of this pover­ty, inequal­i­ty, and unequal access to infor­ma­tion. It occurs in a nation­al cli­mate that is fueled by this Administration’s white suprema­cist agen­da, fan­ning the flames of hate to heights not seen since the year after 9/11. SAALT and our allies reg­u­lar­ly doc­u­ment inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties. Exact­ly one year since the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, SAALT doc­u­ment­ed 213 inci­dents of hate vio­lence alone against our com­mu­ni­ties, which is over a 60% increase from the pre­vi­ous year. These sto­ries rarely make news head­lines because the vic­tims are dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly Mus­lim or per­ceived to be Mus­lim (84%) and often do not have the pow­er of law enforce­ment or the bul­ly pul­pit behind them to get the recourse they deserve.

South Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties and all com­mu­ni­ties of col­or are dou­bly vic­tim­ized by this Administration’s agen­da that both fans the flames of hate and attacks civ­il rights by issu­ing Mus­lim Bans, rolling out mass depor­ta­tions, and elim­i­nat­ing net neu­tral­i­ty. As we estab­lished in our last report “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial,” there is a rela­tion­ship between rolling back civ­il rights and increas­ing vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to hate vio­lence. South Asian Amer­i­cans should be alarmed and acti­vat­ed to speak out now.

Resources to learn and act now

To take action on net neu­tral­i­ty, please see guid­ance from the Voic­es for Inter­net Free­dom Coali­tion.

To learn more about SAALT’s efforts, check out our 2017 report “Pow­er, Pain, Poten­tial” that doc­u­ments inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties in the year lead­ing up to the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Stay tuned for an updat­ed 2018 report that doc­u­ments the year after the 2016 election.

If you have expe­ri­enced an act of vio­lence or dis­crim­i­na­tion, you can report it con­fi­den­tial­ly on SAALT’s intake form here or call our part­ners at the Lawyers Com­mit­tee for Civ­il Rights Under the Law at 1–844-9-NO-HATE and get resources and support.

Lakshmi Sridaran
Direc­tor, Nation­al Pol­i­cy and Advo­ca­cy, SAALT

Last Chance to Force Congress to Vote On and Pass a Clean DREAM Act

Since Pres­i­dent Trump ter­mi­nat­ed the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA) pro­gram in Sep­tem­ber, you have heard about our efforts to speak truth to pow­er. Dur­ing a 2‑day mobi­liza­tion in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. last month, South Asian DREAM­er, leader, and SAALT ally Chi­rayu Patel asked elect­ed offi­cials at a ral­ly on Capi­tol Hill, “What is the lega­cy you want to leave behind?” You heard SAALT’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Suman Raghu­nathan, demand a clean DREAM Act with­out any com­pro­mis­es on increased bor­der enforce­ment that will neg­a­tive­ly impact immi­grant families.

Over the last three months, DREAM­ERs have been deport­ed by the thou­sands, with over 100 DREAM­ers falling out of sta­tus every day because Congress’s fail­ure to act. Addi­tion­al­ly, the gov­ern­ment is ter­mi­nat­ing Tem­po­rary Pro­tect­ed Sta­tus (TPS) for sev­er­al coun­tries that are still reel­ing from war, dis­ease, and nat­ur­al dis­as­ters. So far Nicaragua, Hon­duras, and Haiti have been on the chop­ping block. Nepal and oth­ers could be up next.

We are now at the end of the year and Congress needs to deliver.

Fund­ing for the gov­ern­ment expires this Fri­day, Decem­ber 8th and Con­gress plans to pass a short-term Con­tin­u­ing Res­o­lu­tion (CR) to keep the lights on. This is like­ly the last must-pass spend­ing bill of the year, and the last chance for us to get the DREAM Act and TPS leg­is­la­tion through Con­gress this year.

Here’s what you can do today to force Congress to vote on and pass a clean DREAM Act and TPS legislation now: 

Call your elect­ed offi­cials and tell them why they must include the DREAM Act in the last must-pass spend­ing bill of the year. Urge them to with­hold their vote on any spend­ing bill that does not include a clean DREAM Act. It is crit­i­cal that calls are made this week before a Con­tin­u­ing Res­o­lu­tion is passed on Decem­ber 8th. Click here to find your Mem­ber of Congress.

See below for a sample script!

“I am call­ing to urge you to sign on to the bi-par­ti­san DREAM Act of 2017. As a South Asian Amer­i­can con­stituent, I am call­ing on you to sup­port the DREAM Act now and ensure that it is includ­ed in the year-end spend­ing bill. 

This leg­is­la­tion would allow our DREAM­ers who are as Amer­i­can as you or me to remain in the only coun­try they have ever known or called home. You may be sur­prised to know that there are at least 450,000 undoc­u­ment­ed Indi­ans alone in the U.S. and there are at least 23,000 Indi­ans and Pak­ista­nis who are eli­gi­ble to remain in the coun­try, be shield­ed from depor­ta­tion, and legal­ly work through the DREAM Act.

We need you to exer­cise courage and lead­er­ship on behalf of our fam­i­lies and our com­mu­ni­ties so we can all thrive. I urge you to sign on to a clean DREAM Act with no bor­der enforce­ment. Will you com­mit to vot­ing NO on a year-end spend­ing bill that does not include the DREAM Act? I am hap­py to share more infor­ma­tion if use­ful or con­nect you with South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al orga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing our com­mu­ni­ties in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.”