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 www.saalt.org.

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 almas@saalt.org 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 almas@saalt.org 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.

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-britain-first-retweet-muslim-migrants-jayda-fransen-deputy-leader-a8082001.html

[2] https://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/local/jacksonville-officers-man-planned-mass-shooting-at-islamic-center/658434170

[3] http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/11/30/upper-darby-anti-muslim-signs/

[4] http://www.krqe.com/news/new-mexico-mosque-vandalized-by-a-real-christain/1009337281

[5] http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/vandal-scrawls-graffiti-at-mosque-site/article_bd1eaf88-a7d6-5006–9244-a1175c21b3fe.html

[6] http://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/sikh-community-facing-rise-in-hate-crimes-seeks-help-from-cities/281–509640203

[7] http://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/sikh-community-facing-rise-in-hate-crimes-seeks-help-from-cities/281–509640203

[8] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/07/an-ex-deputy-rammed-a-truck-into-a-store-because-he-thought-the-owners-were-muslim-police-say/?utm_term=.96c4bbd6f212

[9] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/07/an-ex-deputy-rammed-a-truck-into-a-store-because-he-thought-the-owners-were-muslim-police-say/?utm_term=.96c4bbd6f212

[10] http://www.newsindiatimes.com/sikh-gas-station-owner-in-new-jersey-becomes-victim-of-hate-crime

[11] http://www.indiawest.com/news/global_indian/indian-american-owned-gas-station-in-kentucky-vandalized-with-racist/article_ce755584-0b0b-11e8-949b-d30fdeef3b05.html


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 smrosenb@icloud.com.  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.” 

This Week In Hate: November 8- Hate Violence and Hate Rhetoric

Pre­pared by Rad­ha Modi

Over the past week, six new inci­dents of hate vio­lence occurred against South Asian, Mus­lim, and Mid­dle East­ern com­mu­ni­ties mark­ing the end of the first year of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. The lat­est num­bers in hate show over the past 12 months, there have been a total of 205 unique inci­dents of hate; a 58% increase from the pre­vi­ous year.   

There is a per­sis­tent increase in all cat­e­gories of hate vio­lence as shown in Fig­ure 2. Ver­bal and writ­ten threats are by far the most com­mon cat­e­go­ry of hate inci­dents with 83 occur­ring over the past year. Five of the six recent hate inci­dents involved writ­ten hate rhetoric or threats against mosques and local politi­cians.

For exam­ple, over the past week, numer­ous threats have been direct­ed towards a mosque in Pat­ter­son, NJ and a mosque in Pas­sa­ic, NJ. Fur­ther, hate-filled fliers were found in Hobo­ken, NJ with a pic­ture of Ravi Bhal­la, a local Sikh may­oral can­di­date, stat­ing Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town! A day pri­or, unknown per­pe­tra­tors sent mail­ers to Edi­son, NJ res­i­dents attack­ing local school board can­di­dates.


The increase in ver­bal and writ­ten assaults points to a grow­ing trend of sanc­tioned and nor­mal­ized hate rhetoric that is xeno­pho­bic and Islam­o­pho­bic by elect­ed offi­cials includ­ing Don­ald Trump. The rise in state-spon­sored implic­it or explic­it hate rhetoric is encour­ag­ing the tar­get­ing of those per­ceived to be for­eign and Mus­lim as well as oth­er mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. For instance, after the truck attack of bik­ers by Say­ful­lo Saipov, Pres­i­dent Trump tweet­ed out alarmist mes­sages that sup­port­ed his tar­get­ing of Mus­lim immi­grants: “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our coun­try after defeat­ing them in the Mid­dle East and else­where. Enough!”, “I have just ordered Home­land Secu­ri­ty to step up our already Extreme Vet­ting Pro­gram. Being polit­i­cal­ly cor­rect is fine, but not for this!, andCHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some peo­ple come in, and they bring their whole fam­i­ly with them, who can be tru­ly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”. In com­par­i­son, Trump has yet to call out the extrem­ism of white shoot­ers in Las Vegas, NV and Suther­land Springs, TX. These tweets, undoubt­ed­ly, are meant to encour­age anti-immi­grant sen­ti­ments and nativist fears in the U.S.


THIS WEEK IN HATE: November 1- Continued Increase in Hate Violence

Pre­pared by Rad­ha Modi

As of Novem­ber 1, 2017, there have been 199 doc­u­ment­ed inci­dents of hate vio­lence against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Arab, or Mid­dle East­ern. Most notably, hate vio­lence this year has increased by 53% com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year.

The three cat­e­gories of hate vio­lence, phys­i­cal vio­lence, verbal/written threats, and prop­er­ty dam­age, have all sur­passed the totals from the year before the elec­tion as well. Ver­bal and writ­ten threats and hate­ful rhetoric are the most com­mon type of vio­lence with 78 doc­u­ment­ed inci­dents occur­ring since Novem­ber 8, 2016. A recent inci­dent of ver­bal assault occurred against a Mus­lim stu­dent, Fay Alwat­tari, at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cincin­nati by his music pro­fes­sor. The pro­fes­sor respond­ed to Alwattari’s assign­ment with a bar­rage of incen­di­ary com­ments such as: “The U.S. President’s first sworn duty is to pro­tect Amer­i­ca from ene­mies, and the great­est threat to our free­dom is not the Pres­i­dent, it is rad­i­cal Islam. Review this list of Islam­ic ter­ror­ist attacks and then tell me about your hurt feel­ings.” Uni­ver­si­ty of Cincin­nati is inves­ti­gat­ing the professor’s prob­lem­at­ic behav­ior. In addi­tion to ver­bal assaults, inci­dents of phys­i­cal vio­lence also con­tin­ue to rise with three new inci­dents occur­ring in the past week includ­ing an attack on a Hin­du Tem­ple by an unknown sus­pect in Lex­ing­ton, KY. Cur­rent­ly, the total num­ber of phys­i­cal assaults for this year are 68 inci­dents. Final­ly, prop­er­ty dam­age often con­sist­ing of van­dal­ism com­pris­es the third cat­e­go­ry of hate inci­dents with 53 unique inci­dents occur­ring since Novem­ber 8, 2016.

Just this past week­end, a four foot cross wrapped in bacon was left at a mosque in Twin Falls, Ida­ho. Local law enforce­ment are inves­ti­gat­ing this inci­dent as a hate crime.

Con­sis­tent with the num­bers from last week, women who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Arab, or Mid­dle East­ern con­tin­ue to be the most com­mon tar­get of hate mak­ing up 29% of hate vio­lence in the SAALT data­base. Hate inci­dents against men, youth, and Mus­lim places of wor­ship come in sec­ond with com­pa­ra­ble per­cent­ages. Nine­teen per­cent of hate vio­lence is against youth, a slight increase from the pre­vi­ous week. On Octo­ber 25th, Christo­pher Beck­ham harassed two Mus­lim girls wear­ing hijabs com­ing off of a school bus and threat­ened their father with a knife. He told them to “go back to their coun­try” and that he would kill them when he got out of prison.

This Week In Hate: October 25 — The Vulnerability of Youth as Hate Violence Continues to Increase

Pre­pared by Rad­ha Modi

This week’s report on hate vio­lence against those who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, South Asian, Arab, or Mid­dle East­ern high­lights two notable shifts in trends. For the first time, phys­i­cal assaults post-elec­tion have sur­passed pre-elec­tion num­bers. Addi­tion­al­ly, there has been an increase in hate inci­dents in the Mid­west region of the U.S., with per­cent­ages close to the West­ern and East­ern region­al per­cent­ages.

As we approach the close of the first year of Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­cy, the total num­ber of hate inci­dents have increased to 191 result­ing in a 46% increase from pre-elec­tion year to post-elec­tion year (see Fig­ure 1).

Of the 191 report­ed hate inci­dents, 65 inci­dents are phys­i­cal assaults, 77 inci­dents are ver­bal or writ­ten threats, and 50 inci­dents involve prop­er­ty dam­age (see Fig­ure 2). The most dra­mat­ic increase in hate inci­dents has involved ver­bal and writ­ten assaults over the past year. Recent­ly, a Delaware man, Ger­ard Med­vec, is fac­ing hate crime charges for spy­ing on and threat­en­ing his neigh­bors who he thought were Mus­lim. Post-elec­tion totals on phys­i­cal assaults have also sur­passed the totals from pre-elec­tion year. Phys­i­cal assaults include acts such as shov­ing, punch­ing, pulling, and spit­ting by the per­pe­tra­tors. On Octo­ber 7th, a 43-year old white man walked into a con­ve­nience store in Seat­tle, WA, and pep­per sprayed two men and one woman wear­ing hijab. This attack was pre­ced­ed by an anti-Mus­lim rant in the store. Final­ly, prop­er­ty dam­age often con­sist­ing of van­dal­ism com­pris­es the third cat­e­go­ry of hate inci­dents. Mosques are the most com­mon tar­get of hate inci­dents involv­ing prop­er­ty dam­age. For exam­ple, fig­ure 3 demon­strates that 21% of hate inci­dents involve dam­age or van­dal­ism of mosques and Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty cen­ters. This past week, Dar Al Farooq Islam­ic Cen­ter in Min­neso­ta, which was bombed in August, was bro­ken into and bur­glar­ized.

The most com­mon vic­tims of hate inci­dents are often women. Twen­ty-nine per­cent of the 191 doc­u­ment­ed hate inci­dents are against women who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab (see Fig­ure 3). A major­i­ty of these hate inci­dents involve women wear­ing hijabs. Hate vio­lence towards women under­scores the role of inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty and the need for iden­ti­fy­ing these inter­sec­tions in doc­u­ment­ing hate.

The com­bi­na­tion of gen­der, reli­gious attire, skin col­or, accent, and oth­er fac­tors all play a part in how women are per­ceived and tar­get­ed in dai­ly life. For men, as well, inter­sec­tions of mul­ti­ple fac­tors con­tribute to how they are per­ceived and treat­ed by oth­ers. Twen­ty-two per­cent of hate inci­dents are against men who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab. Youth are also vul­ner­a­ble to hate inci­dents due to the inter­sec­tions of race, name, skin col­or, gen­der, and reli­gion with young age. Eigh­teen per­cent of hate inci­dents involved stu­dents and youth (Youth num­bers over­lap with per­cent­ages of hate inci­dents against women and men). Inci­dents not only occur on the streets from strangers but also in insti­tu­tion­al set­tings where oth­ers bul­ly and haze them.

A recent inci­dent stands out in high­light­ing the vio­lence that youth who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as Mus­lim, Sikh, South Asian, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab face reg­u­lar­ly, and the men­tal health cri­sis that can result from that trau­ma. Raheel Sid­diqui, a young Mus­lim enlist­ed in the U.S. Marines, com­mit­ted sui­cide dur­ing train­ing this past March. Accord­ing to his par­ents, his drill instruc­tor inces­sant­ly hazed him for being Mus­lim. The instruc­tor report­ed­ly called him a ter­ror­ist and forced him to run laps until he col­lapsed. Supe­ri­ors denied Raheel Sid­diqui med­ical assis­tance and did not take seri­ous­ly his threats to com­mit sui­cide. With increas­ing hate vio­lence, com­mu­ni­ty groups will need to hold insti­tu­tion­al spaces such as schools, the mil­i­tary, and after­school pro­grams account­able in cre­at­ing safe space for all youth.

Last­ly, the rise in the num­ber of hate inci­dents is region­al­ly rel­e­vant (see Fig­ure 4). The West Coast and East Coast con­tin­ue to lead in hate inci­dents with slight­ly over half of inci­dents occur­ring in those regions of the U.S. Their lead, how­ev­er, has shrunk over the weeks as the occur­rence of hate inci­dents increased in the Mid­west. Cur­rent­ly, 25% of hate inci­dents have occurred in places such as Min­neso­ta, Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan, Ohio, Indi­ana, and Illi­nois. South­ern regions of the U.S. have the low­est num­ber of inci­dents mak­ing up 18% of the total.