SAALT in May: Community Events, New Faces, SAALT Speaks

SAALT top bar

SAALT Community Connection - May 2009

In This Issue

SAALT Speaks

New Faces in SAALT

Community Calendar

Be the Change

Summit Wrap-Up

Support SAALT in 2009!

The SAALT Com­mu­ni­ty Con­nec­tion is a month­ly e‑newsletter that focus­es on com­mu­ni­ty news and events. To learn more about SAALT’s com­mu­ni­ty and pol­i­cy work, con­tact us at saalt@saalt.org

South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is a nation­al, non-prof­it ded­i­cat­ed to fos­ter­ing full and equal par­tic­i­pa­tion by South Asians in all aspects of Amer­i­can civic and polit­i­cal life through a social jus­tice frame­work that includes advo­ca­cy, coali­tion-build­ing, com­mu­ni­ty edu­ca­tion, and lead­er­ship devel­op­ment.

SAALT Speaks on First 100 Days, Immigration, and Citizenship

  • lavPriya Murthy, Pol­i­cy Direc­tor, appeared as a guest on WPFW Pacifica Radio in April to dis­cuss immi­gra­tion and civ­il rights issues affect­ing South Asians.
  • Deepa Iyer, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, appeared as a guest on Beneath the Surface radio show on KPFK 90.7FM in Los Ange­les, CA with Hamid Khan to dis­cuss cit­i­zen­ship and immi­gra­tion reform on April 23rd.
  • Deepa Iyer spoke on the Applied Research Cen­ter’s “Race in Review: First 100 Days” con­fer­ence call on April 28th.
  • Lavanya Sithanan­dam, SAALT Board Mem­ber, appeared on “That Fresh Radio Piece” on May 18th on WMUC 88.1FM in Col­lege Park, MD to dis­cuss the effects of recent immi­gra­tion enforce­ment efforts and raids on the chil­dren she sees as a pedi­a­tri­cian in Tako­ma Park.

Upcoming:

  • Deepa Iyer will be speak­ing at Georgia State University at the Immi­gra­tion & Human Rights Sym­po­sium on June 17th, 2009.
  • Deepa Iyer will be speak­ing at the “Know Your Community: A Discussion of Issues and Trends Affecting Asian Pacific Americans in Washington DC and Beyond" spon­sored by the Asian Pacif­ic Amer­i­can Bar Asso­ci­a­tion — Wash­ing­ton DC on June 3rd.

New Faces at SAALT

SAALT wel­comes Aaditi Dubale as the new SAALT Fel­low! She will be work­ing on Be the Change 2009, our Nation­al Day of Ser­vice, as well as sup­port­ing fundrais­ing and devel­op­ment efforts. Aadi­ti can be reached at aaditi@saalt.org.

SAALT also wel­comes our sum­mer interns:

Ashley Vij from George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty
Niralee Shah from Williams Col­lege
Zara Haq from Amer­i­can Uni­ver­si­ty Wash­ing­ton Col­lege of Law

SAALT bids a fond farewell to Aparna Kothary, Fundrais­ing and Devel­op­ment Assis­tant. Aparna’s work at SAALT advanced the devel­op­ment of an indi­vid­ual mem­ber base, helped us to iden­ti­fy new fundrais­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, and expand­ed Be the Change — our Nation­al Day of Ser­vice.

Community Calendar

BTC09May 30th - New Jersey SAALT Circle Service project
Join the SAALT Cir­cle for a com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice project with ‘The Shar­ing Place’, a food pantry at St. Pauls’ Luther­an Church in Jer­sey City.  We’ll be prepar­ing, pack­ing, and serv­ing break­fast and lunch to the local com­mu­ni­ty.  Come out and BE THE CHANGE!


The Shar­ing Place — St. Luther­ans Church

440 Hobo­ken Avenue (five cor­ners) in Jer­sey City, NJ


Please RSVP by May 26th at
qudsia@saalt.org. Space is lim­it­ed — sign up now!

August 14th - August 16th: Transgress, Transform, Transcend - A Nation­al Con­fer­ence of Les­bian, Gay, Bisex­u­al, Trans­gen­der, and Queer (LGBTQ) Asian Amer­i­cans, South Asians and Pacif­ic Islanders (API)

Uni­ver­si­ty of Wash­ing­ton in Seat­tle, WA
Reg­is­tra­tion infor­ma­tion is avail­able online at: http://www.nqapia.org

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund presents The Asian American Vote 2008

Dur­ing the 2008 Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tions, 16,665 Asian Amer­i­can vot­ers were sur­veyed as part of AALDE­F’s nation­al mul­ti­lin­gual exit poll.  The exit poll was the largest non­par­ti­san sur­vey of its kind in the nation and was con­duct­ed in twelve Asian lan­guages and Eng­lish across 39 cities in 11 states.  At these spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tions across the coun­try, com­par­a­tive infor­ma­tion will be giv­en about the Asian Amer­i­can vote in the Pres­i­den­tial and Con­gres­sion­al elec­tions, con­cerns about key issues, first-time vot­ers, and pro­files of the Asian Amer­i­can vote by eth­nic­i­ty, par­ty enroll­ment, nativ­i­ty, age, and Eng­lish pro­fi­cien­cy.  For more information or to attend any of these presentations, contact jyang@aaldef.org or call 800.966.5946, www.aaldef.org

  • June 8 at 12:30 PM — The Mass­a­chu­setts Asian Amer­i­can Vote (Boston, MA)
  • June 8 at 5:30 PM (Low­ell, MA)
  • June 11 at 6:30 PM — The Mary­land Asian Amer­i­can Vote (co-spon­sored by SAALT) (Rockville, MD)
  • June 12 at 2:00PM — The Asian Amer­i­can Vote (mul­ti­state) (co-spon­sored by SAALT)(Wash­ing­ton, DC)
  • June 17 and 18 at 6:30 PM- The Vir­ginia Asian Amer­i­can Vote (co-spon­sored by SAALT) (Rich­mond, VA)
  • June 18 at 11:30 AM (co-spon­sored by SAALT) (Annan­dale, VA)
  • August 8 (time TBA) — The Chi­nese Amer­i­can Vote (San Fran­cis­co, CA)

Check out events on SAALT's Community Calendar.calendar

SAALT staff are avail­able to speak at your stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion meet­ings, con­fer­ences, and com­mu­ni­ty events on top­ics includ­ing immi­grant rights, South Asians in Amer­i­ca, civic engage­ment, and immi­gra­tion. Please email us at saalt@saalt.org for more infor­ma­tion.

Get Ready for Be the Change 2009 - National Day of Service!

BTC09What are you doing on Saturday, October 3rd?

1) Host a Be the Change event on your campus — If your cam­pus tra­di­tion­al­ly hosts a Be the Change event or if you would like to start one on your cam­pus, please fill out this form by May 30th and we will send you a planning guide and connect you to the national event.

2) Host a Be the Change event in your city- Join or start a plan­ning team in your city. As a mem­ber of the plan­ning team, you will be coor­di­nat­ing ser­vice events, recruit­ing vol­un­teers, and con­nect­ing with oth­er plan­ning teams around the coun­try. Please fill out this form by May 30th and we will connect you with others in your city who are interested in planning a Be the Change event.  Our core cities this year are: Wash­ing­ton DC, New York City, South Bay, San Fran­cis­co, Atlanta, and Boston. We also wel­come oth­er cities to hold Be the Change events.

3) Join SAALT as a National Partner for Be the Change- If your orga­ni­za­tion, pro­fes­sion­al asso­ci­a­tion, or youth group would like to part­ner with SAALT, local­ly or nation­al­ly, please email us at btc2009@saalt.org by May 30th.

South Asian Summit Roundup

summitDid you miss the Summit?

  • Lis­ten to pod­casts of the ses­sions here
  • View pic­tures from the Sum­mit here
  • Hear from par­tic­i­pants in Sum­mit Snap­shots here
  • Read entries from the SAALT Spot about the Sum­mit here

Make A Donation to
Support SAALT's Work in 2009 Today!

Are you a SAALT mem­ber yet?


If not, we urge you to become a member today. By becom­ing a SAALT mem­ber, you not only receive ben­e­fits (such as our annu­al newslet­ter and dis­counts at events and gath­er­ings), but the sat­is­fac­tion of being part of a nation­al non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that address­es civ­il and immi­grant rights issues fac­ing South Asians in Amer­i­ca.

Do you know some­one who would be inter­est­ed in learn­ing about SAALT? For­ward them this email by click­ing here:

Forward this email


South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) is a nation­al, non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to fos­ter­ing full and equal par­tic­i­pa­tion by South Asians in all aspects of Amer­i­can civic and polit­i­cal life through a social jus­tice frame­work that includes advo­ca­cy, coali­tion-build­ing, com­mu­ni­ty edu­ca­tion, and lead­er­ship devel­op­ment.

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

A Time of Transition: Immigrant Rights in a Changing Landscape

Check out this blog post from Just Democ­ra­cy that high­lights the ways that the elec­tion of the first minor­i­ty Pres­i­dent has impact­ed the immi­grant rights land­scape, for bet­ter or worse-

A Time of Transition: Immigrant Rights in a Changing Landscape

By Deepa Iyer

As an immi­grant who moved from the south­ern part of India to the Amer­i­can South in the mid 1980s, race has been a cor­ner­stone of my iden­ti­ty for decades. In class­rooms in Ken­tucky, my peers didn’t know quite what to make of me: you were either white or black, and no shade of gray exist­ed for folks like me, who grap­pled with bicul­tur­al iden­ti­ties and immi­grant expe­ri­ences. I remem­ber con­stant­ly nurs­ing an acute sense of want­i­ng to belong and to be under­stood- at school among my peers, among fam­i­lies in the neigh­bor­hood, and even among rel­a­tives and friends back in India as my lifestyle and inter­ests slow­ly changed.

I seemed to con­front the label of the “oth­er” in count­less ways, due, per­haps, to my Indi­an accent, or cul­tur­al cus­toms and tra­di­tions that seemed out of place, or the strug­gles of my immi­grant par­ents who expe­ri­enced an even more dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion than I did. My child­hood immi­grant expe­ri­ence is not very dif­fer­ent from thou­sands of oth­ers who also make the jour­ney from else­where to here. And yet, those expe­ri­ences are often not part of the Amer­i­can sto­ry as it is told, per­ceived, and framed; they are out­side the scope of what is con­sid­ered to be “main­stream” and accept­able. That is why I have been watch­ing the elec­tion and pres­i­den­cy of Barack Hus­sein Oba­ma with such great inter­est.

With his unique name, his diverse fam­i­ly, and his child­hood expe­ri­ences in oth­er parts of the world, Pres­i­dent Obama’s sto­ry res­onates with those of us who have tra­versed sim­i­lar paths. Many of us feel a sense of famil­iar­i­ty with a nation­al fig­ure and pub­lic leader in a way that we have not felt before. The elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Oba­ma sig­nals that Amer­i­ca is, per­haps, ready to be more inclu­sive, to expand its nar­ra­tive, to accept what has for so long been side­lined as the “oth­er.”

Yet, as the impact of Pres­i­dent Obama’s his­toric pres­i­den­cy is being explored, advo­cates and activists know well that we have much work to do to real­ize the fun­da­men­tal ideals of equal­i­ty and jus­tice in the Unit­ed States and around the world. This is cer­tain­ly the case when it comes to the wel­fare and rights of immi­grants in this coun­try, who con­tin­ue to be mar­gin­al­ized, alien­at­ed, and scape­goat­ed, despite the tremen­dous sac­ri­fices and con­tri­bu­tions they make every day.

How will the Oba­ma Admin­is­tra­tion and the new Con­gress con­front the numer­ous chal­lenges that have been cre­at­ed by the bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem in this coun­try? Cer­tain­ly, immi­grant rights advo­cates hope that there will be mul­ti­ple entry points for dis­cus­sion and action with pol­i­cy­mak­ers and con­gres­sion­al lead­ers, giv­en the polit­i­cal changes afoot in Wash­ing­ton. The tenor for these pol­i­cy dis­cus­sions will also be set by the vary­ing sen­ti­ments that the pub­lic has towards immi­grants. Will the anti-immi­grant back­lash that has per­me­at­ed the coun­try over the past decade shift? Will the gen­er­al feel­ing towards immi­grants be one of inclu­sion and open­ness, giv­en that we have elect­ed the nation’s first pres­i­dent of col­or?

Recent inci­dents show that as a coun­try, we still have a long way to go. In the week after Barack Obama’s elec­tion, a spate of bias inci­dents and hate crimes were report­ed around the coun­try. One such inci­dent involved a cross that was burned on the front lawn of an Indi­an-Amer­i­can fam­i­ly in New Jer­sey; around the charred cross was the family’s Oba­ma vic­to­ry ban­ner. One of the fam­i­ly mem­bers was report­ed say­ing: “Liv­ing in the 21st cen­tu­ry, and we have to deal with this – in Amer­i­ca.”

In Decem­ber 2008, a group of men par­tic­i­pat­ed in the beat­ing death of a Lati­no man in New York City who was strolling with his broth­er. And as the new year began, we heard of a fam­i­ly of Mus­lim pas­sen­gers who were removed from an Air Tran flight due to pas­sen­ger dis­com­fort. As we per­suade the new admin­is­tra­tion and pol­i­cy­mak­ers in Wash­ing­ton to put forth leg­is­la­tion and poli­cies that pre­serve the rights of immi­grants – the recent reau­tho­riza­tion of the State Children’s Health Insur­ance Pro­gram (SCHIP) which includes pro­vi­sions for immi­grant chil­dren and women is a pos­i­tive exam­ple – we also have to change the way that ordi­nary Amer­i­cans per­ceive immi­grants in their own com­mu­ni­ties.

This moment in time presents a tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty for a new direc­tion in the pub­lic dia­logue about the con­tri­bu­tions, needs, and chal­lenges of immi­grants. The cli­mate of open­ness in the coun­try, cat­alyzed by an elec­tion that saw unprece­dent­ed vot­er-engage­ment rates and a his­toric pres­i­den­cy that has moved many to heed the call to ser­vice and action, can also sig­ni­fy a new era for immi­grant rights. Here is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for us to destroy that us-ver­sus-them dynam­ic once and for all. And to do so, we must start in our com­mu­ni­ties and our class­rooms, as well as in dis­cus­sions at our kitchen tables. We must engage the pub­lic through our local news­pa­pers and at town hall meet­ings, so that immi­grant chil­dren and fam­i­lies in Ken­tucky, Kansas and around the nation feel con­nect­ed to the Amer­i­can sto­ry that is being rein­vent­ed and re-imag­ined through this elec­tion.

Deepa Iyer has been advo­cat­ing for civ­il and immi­grant rights for near­ly a decade through her work. She is cur­rent­ly the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to fos­ter­ing civic and polit­i­cal engage­ment by South Asian com­mu­ni­ties around the Unit­ed States.

SAALT E.D. Deepa Iyer on “Uprisings” Radio Show about South Asia

Lis­ten to this episode of Paci­fi­ca Radio show “Upris­ings” cen­tered around South Asia fea­tur­ing SAALT Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Deepa Iyer, along with fel­low guests, Tayyab Mah­mud and Vijay Prashad. They dis­cuss top­ics from the mod­el minor­i­ty myth to post‑9/11 bias and dis­crim­i­na­tion to the polit­i­cal iden­ti­ties of South Asians in Amer­i­ca.

Lis­ten to the whole episode at: http://www.archive.org/download/DailyDigest020409/2009_02_04_uprising.MP3

SAALT E.D., Deepa Iyer, profiled in Takoma Voice

Check out this pro­file of SAALT’s own Exec­u­tive Direc­tor (and proud Tako­ma Park res­i­dent) Deepa Iyer pub­lished in the Tako­ma Voice. The arti­cle was writ­ten by Paree­sha Narag, a stu­dent at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land and a past stu­dent of Deep­a’s.

Check out the full arti­cle here: http://www.silverspringvoice.com/archives/pdfs/2008/1208pdfs/023_mn_dec08.pdf