SAALT Partners with MTV for the #BeyondTheWall Interactive Exhibition in Herald Square

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Octo­ber 10, 2016
Con­tact: Suman Raghu­nathan, suman@saalt.org

On Octo­ber 10, 2016, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) part­nered with MTV and sev­er­al oth­er orga­ni­za­tions on a ground­break­ing project called “#BeyondThe­Wall”, a 10’x35’ inter­ac­tive video instal­la­tion stand­ing in the heart of New York’s Her­ald Square that serves as a dig­i­tal forum to show­case per­spec­tives on immi­gra­tion reform, racial diver­si­ty, and mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism in the Unit­ed States. The video wall, metaphor­ic of the much debat­ed bor­der wall of the 2016 elec­tions, pro­vides vis­i­tors an oppor­tu­ni­ty to see video sto­ries from par­tic­i­pants such as Diane Guer­rero, Arturo Cas­tro, Amani Alkhat, and Cristela Alon­zo, along with real-time user-gen­er­at­ed sub­mis­sions over social media, about how immi­gra­tion and diver­si­ty are at the heart of the Amer­i­can expe­ri­ence.

“The Unit­ed States is a nation of immi­grants, and with a pop­u­la­tion of more than 4.3 mil­lion South Asians, we are the most rapid­ly grow­ing demo­graph­ic group in the US,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “A major­i­ty of our com­mu­ni­ty is for­eign born, which makes immi­grant rights and racial jus­tice a top pri­or­i­ty for us. Post 9/11, our research shows that South Asians both old and young have faced tremen­dous hate vio­lence, sus­pi­cion, and sur­veil­lance, and have heard xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric spew­ing from can­di­dates and politi­cians across the coun­try. This part­ner­ship with MTV gives South Asians and oth­er groups a chance to make their voic­es heard on their real­i­ties and the issues affect­ing them.”

With Octo­ber 10 mark­ing Colum­bus Day and Indige­nous Peo­ples’ Day, a reminder of the nation’s mul­ti­cul­tur­al ori­gins, this curat­ed inter­ac­tive forum pro­vides in-per­son and online audi­ences a way of lis­ten­ing and adding to the ongo­ing dis­cus­sion about immi­gra­tion and diver­si­ty in the US, a cen­tral issue in the 2016 elec­tions.

In the run up to the elec­tions, SAALT has released YOUR VOICE YOUR VOTE: A Guide for South Asian Vot­ers, which pro­vides key elec­tion dead­lines and resources, South Asian vot­er pri­or­i­ties and data, as well as the pol­i­cy posi­tions of the two main Pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates. One such pri­or­i­ty for South Asian vot­ers is immi­gra­tion reform. Recent­ly, the Supreme Court declined to rehear argu­ments in Unit­ed States v. Texas, effec­tive­ly deny­ing mil­lions of immi­grants and over 200,000 South Asians the ben­e­fits of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion’s 2014 exec­u­tive actions of Deferred Action for Par­ents of Amer­i­cans and Law­ful Per­ma­nent Res­i­dents (DAPA) and the expan­sion of Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA). SAALT’s Immi­gra­tion Fact­sheet, avail­able here, explains the cur­rent state of the law and pro­vides key resources for those want­i­ng to learn more.

With immi­gra­tion reform and racial diver­si­ty at a high pitch in both the pub­lic and polit­i­cal spheres, and with hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic rhetoric con­tin­u­ous­ly affect­ing the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty nation­wide, the #BeyondThe­Wall project pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty for all of us to speak, lis­ten, and engage in a mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion about the ideals of this coun­try, and how to per­haps one day reach them.