SAALT ChangeMaker Award Recipient Shares What Inspires Her

SAALT ChangeMaker Award Recipient Sonia Sarkar

SAALT Change­Mak­er Award Recip­i­ent Sonia Sarkar

Sonia Sarkar, one of the recip­i­ents of the inau­gur­al SAALT Change­Mak­er Awards joined Project HEALTH dur­ing her (ongo­ing) under­grad­u­ate career at Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty. She shares what inspires her to be a change mak­er:

When I first joined Project HEALTH as a sopho­more in col­lege, I had no idea what being a ‘change agent’ entailed. More than any­thing, I was curi­ous- hav­ing just moved to Bal­ti­more, I want­ed to know more about the com­mu­ni­ty in which I lived but hard­ly ever explored. I still remem­ber the strange­ness of rid­ing into East Bal­ti­more in an air-con­di­tioned lux­u­ry coach with ‘Johns Hop­kins’ imprint­ed on the side in huge block let­ters. Why, I won­dered, were there so many board­ed up hous­es? So few gro­cery stores but an abun­dance of liquor stores? No recre­ation cen­ters or free com­mu­ni­ty health clin­ics? In a city that was host to one of the best health care insti­tu­tions in the world, fam­i­lies were still suf­fer­ing from the poor health out­comes that are linked inex­tri­ca­bly with pover­ty. As part of a corps of vol­un­teers who were ded­i­cat­ed to break­ing this link, I hoped to uncov­er some answers.

I remem­ber one of my very first encoun­ters at the Fam­i­ly Resource Desk, where Project HEALTH vol­un­teers work with fam­i­lies on a vari­ety of issues relat­ed to health: employ­ment, hous­ing, food secu­ri­ty, util­i­ties assis­tance, adult edu­ca­tion. Hav­ing just been through an inten­sive 13-hour train­ing, I felt con­fi­dent that I could offer at least some­thing. A young moth­er came by the desk, with her three young chil­dren in tow. She looked exhaust­ed, and explained that she had just spent a night in the ER with her youngest child, who had test­ed with extreme­ly high blood lead lev­els. There was nev­er enough food at the end of the month to feed her whole fam­i­ly, and she had been unem­ployed for some time. As I sort­ed through in my head the ways in which I might be able to help, I land­ed on the idea that apply­ing for food stamps might be a good idea. I print­ed the appli­ca­tion and hand­ed it over to my client with great opti­mism. She looked at me weari­ly and asked me if I had ever actu­al­ly filled out a pub­lic ben­e­fits appli­ca­tion. When I shook my head no, she sug­gest­ed I try it and then call her the next day. Four frus­trat­ing hours lat­er, I was back on the phone with her- com­plete­ly hum­bled by my attempt to mud­dle through the 12-page form. Despite my fan­cy edu­ca­tion, despite my ground­ing in pub­lic health the­o­ry, I was the one who need­ed to learn.

Look­ing back at the expe­ri­ence I’ve had over these past three years, it con­tin­ues to be the fam­i­lies and the stu­dents I work with who are a con­stant inspi­ra­tion. Change­mak­ers, social entre­pre­neurs, com­mu­ni­ty advo­cates- they are the core of Project HEALTH’s work. As a soci­ety, we have come to accept as fact that a fam­i­ly in Mum­bai or Dha­ka needs access to basic food, shel­ter, and elec­tric­i­ty if they are to live health­ily. Yet when it comes to look­ing at our own inner cities- the very neigh­bor­hoods where we go to work and study- these basic tenets are eas­i­ly for­got­ten. SAALT’s mot­to- “Strength­en­ing South Asian Com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed States” is a piece of a much larg­er puz­zle: regard­less of loca­tion or her­itage, strong com­mu­ni­ties are essen­tial every­where. The same val­ues I grew up with in my strong Indi­an com­mu­ni­ty- an empha­sis on fam­i­ly, gen­er­a­tional knowl­edge and sup­port, vibrant sto­ry­telling- are present with­in the Bal­ti­more com­mu­ni­ties I work with. It is an hon­or to receive the SAALT Change­mak­er Award, and I have been incred­i­bly lucky to work with stu­dents and fam­i­lies who are break­ing bar­ri­ers every­day. They are a true inspi­ra­tion to all of us who strive for change.

May Day Rally for Immigration Reform in Washington DC

On May 1st, peo­ple from com­mu­ni­ties all over the coun­try com­mem­o­rat­ed Inter­na­tion­al Work­ers’ Day to call for fair and equi­table reform to the immi­gra­tion sys­tem. There were ral­lies in many major cities, includ­ing Wash­ing­ton DC. I went down to the ral­ly with Poon­am, our intern. Being at the march was an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence. Walk­ing down 14th Street, where mount­ed police shut down one direc­tion of traf­fic to accom­mo­date the crowd, sur­round­ed by com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers and advo­cates, was a sin­gu­lar expe­ri­ence. I did­n’t par­tic­i­pate in the immi­gra­tion reform ral­lies in 2006 and 2007 so this was my first time get­ting the May Day expe­ri­ence. The mood was over­whelm­ing­ly pos­i­tive with the speak­ers at Lafayette Park acknowl­edg­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties that com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers encounter as part of the bro­ken immi­gra­tion sys­tem but ulti­mate­ly focus­ing on how com­mu­ni­ties-of-col­or can work togeth­er to push for reform. I used one of our nifty new Flips to cap­ture some of the sights and sounds of the ral­ly, below you can check out a quick video fea­tur­ing some inspir­ing words from Rev. Hagler of the Ply­mouth Con­gre­ga­tion­al Unit­ed Church of Christ:

SAALT ChangeMaker Award Recipient, Asm Rahman, Profiled in Detroit Free Press

SAALT ChangeMaker Award recipient, Asm Rahman

SAALT Change­Mak­er Award recip­i­ent, Asm Rah­man

Asm Rah­man, one of the recip­i­ents of the inau­gur­al SAALT Change­Mak­er Awards, is pro­filed in the Detroit Free Press. Elect­ed the Pres­i­dent of the Ham­tram­ck NAACP, Rah­man is a life­long sup­port­er of civ­il rights and edu­ca­tion. Check out the arti­cle here <http://www.freep.com/article/20090427/NEWS02/904270359/>. I had a chance to talk with Mr. Rah­man about what moti­vat­ed him to take a lead­er­ship role in the NAACP as well as what he envi­sions for the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty nation­al­ly and in the Detroit area.

Q: How did you get involved with the NAACP?

A: After 9/11, I real­ized that many peo­ple in my com­mu­ni­ty were unaware of their civ­il rights. They did not know why they should become cit­i­zens or that many were con­fronting post‑9/11 racism. While Detroit was not affect­ed like some areas with open harass­ment, they did go after many peo­ple, espe­cial­ly Mid­dle East­ern­ers, in a way that seemed relat­ed to race. When I first came to this coun­try, I had learned about Mar­tin Luther King, Jr and Fred­er­ick Dou­glas and such dur­ing Feb­ru­ary, Black His­to­ry Month, at Ham­tram­ck High School. I real­ized that after 9/11, we, as a com­mu­ni­ty, need to learn about and join this move­ment for civ­il rights. For our com­mu­ni­ty, we need to see that free­dom did not come cheap and we have to respect the African Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty’s con­tri­bu­tion to our free­dom.

Q: What do you hope for your community, in Detroit and around the country?

A: I hope that the com­mu­ni­ty can come togeth­er and get involved about the issues that we face. That’s why we formed BAPAC (Bangladeshi Amer­i­can Pub­lic Affairs Coun­cil). We saw that there were small­er orga­ni­za­tions pro­vid­ing social ser­vices, but in terms of polit­i­cal engage­ment or civ­il rights, we were behind. Vot­ing and pol­i­tics are dif­fer­ent in South Asia and it is impor­tant to edu­cate our com­mu­ni­ty about how the sys­tem works here. We run work­shops like how to vote where we use a sam­ple bal­lot to help Lim­it­ed Eng­lish Pro­fi­cient or old­er vot­ers nav­i­gate the process. The excite­ment that we saw dur­ing the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions must be main­tained. This elec­tion was the first time I saw the Bangladeshi com­mu­ni­ty get­ting involved in nation­al pol­i­tics. There was this sense that even if our votes did not count before, this time it will mat­ter. My moth­er was watch­ing the elec­tion like her son was run­ning.

Q: What do you think the community needs in order to become engaged?

A: First­ly, I would say we need edu­ca­tion and I do not mean just aca­d­e­mics. We need to become famil­iar with the pow­er struc­ture. Know­ing that can help us be pre­pared for emer­gen­cies, when peo­ple real­ly need help. For instance, in terms of edu­ca­tion, many immi­grant par­ents do not know how they should get involved. By know­ing what is already in place, com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers can make a big­ger impact on the issues that mat­ter to them. Sec­ond, I would say it is lead­er­ship. This com­mu­ni­ty needs lead­ers who real­ly know what the prob­lems are and how to address them. Ulti­mate­ly, our num­bers do not mat­ter unless the num­bers are doing some­thing.

Daily Buzz 4.27.2009

1.) South Asian Phil­an­thropy Project: Live-Blog­ging at the SAALT Sum­mit!

2.) Racewire: Asian Amer­i­cans Increas­ing­ly Favor­able of U.S.

3.) Bangladeshi Amer­i­can to become First Asian Amer­i­can to Head NAACP Chap­ter

4.) Indi­an-Amer­i­can helps design ener­gy-sav­ing PCs

5.) Bangladesh-US ven­ture to build coun­try’s first solar pan­el plant 

Deepa Iyer, Executive Director on Apr 28 Applied Research Conference Call “Race in Review: The First 100 Days”

Check out Deepa Iyer, SAALT’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor on Tues­day’s ARC call “Race in Review: The First 100 Days”. The call is at 4pm EST/3pm CST/1 pm PST. Learn more (and RSVP!) here <http://www.arc.org/content/view/594/1/>

Undocumented Immigrants, Children and CCPA

Check out this piece from Lavanya Sithanan­dam, pedi­a­tri­cian and trav­el doc­tor in Tako­ma Park and SAALT Board mem­ber about undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants, cit­i­zen chil­dren and the Child Cit­i­zen Pro­tec­tion Act:

The non-par­ti­san Pew His­pan­ic Cen­ter released a report yes­ter­day enti­tled ‘A Por­trait of Unau­tho­rized Immi­grants in the Unit­ed States’ .  The report reveals that 4 mil­lion Amer­i­can chil­dren in the Unit­ed States have at least one undoc­u­ment­ed par­ent, which is up dra­mat­i­cal­ly from 2.7 mil­lion chil­dren in 2003.   Chil­dren of unau­tho­rized immi­grants now account for about one in 15 ele­men­tary and sec­ondary school stu­dents nation­wide.  One third of these chil­dren live in pover­ty and close to half (45%) of these chil­dren are with­out health insur­ance.

As a prac­tic­ing pedi­a­tri­cian in Tako­ma Park, MD, these sta­tis­tics are more than num­bers to me.   Some of my patients that I treat in my own office are includ­ed in this data.  What these per­cent­ages and sta­tis­tics do not con­vey is how deeply entrenched these chil­dren and their fam­i­lies have become in this coun­try.  Despite this, I have noticed a dis­turb­ing trend over the past two years, with a grow­ing num­ber of my patients hav­ing to deal with the deten­tion and pos­si­ble depor­ta­tion of a par­ent, friend, or neigh­bor.  This is a night­mare sce­nario for any­one to have to cope with, let alone a young child.

In response to this sit­u­a­tion, I have been work­ing with SAALT and sev­er­al oth­er non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions such as Fam­i­lies For Free­dom to shed light on the plight of such chil­dren and to help them stay unit­ed with their fam­i­lies.   This week is a ‘Week of Action’ in sup­port of HR 182 or the Child Cit­i­zen Pro­tec­tion Act, which will give immi­gra­tion judges dis­cre­tion in depor­ta­tion cas­es involv­ing the sep­a­ra­tion of fam­i­lies with chil­dren who are U.S. cit­i­zens.    Cur­rent­ly, judges have their hands tied and are forced to deport many par­ents unless they meet an ‘extreme hard­ship’ stan­dard–  a dif­fi­cult stan­dard for most to meet.  I ask that you call your local con­gress­men and ask them to sign on to this bill.  Also please try to doc­u­ment any expe­ri­ences that you may be fac­ing with the deten­tion and/or depor­ta­tion of a loved one.  In my own prac­tice I am ask­ing my patients to draw pic­tures of bro­ken hearts (like the one above) to rep­re­sent the pain and suf­fer­ing these fam­i­lies endure when one or both par­ents are deport­ed.   I hope to show these draw­ings and let­ters that I col­lect to my local rep­re­sen­ta­tives as part of SAALT’s annu­al advo­ca­cy day next week.

Tako­ma Park Pedi­atrics Patient, Age 7

Also, check out Dr. Sithanan­dam’s excel­lent Op-Ed pub­lished in the Bal­ti­more Sun.

JACL/OCA Leadership Conference: An Intern’s Eye View

Anoth­er post from our intern, Poon­am Patel, about the JACL/OCA Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence that took place in Wash­ing­ton, DC two weeks ago:

Ear­li­er this month, I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate in the Japan­ese Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens League /Orga­ni­za­tion of Chi­nese Amer­i­cans Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence held in Wash­ing­ton DC. It was a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet with oth­er Asian Amer­i­cans who had a vest­ed inter­est in learn­ing about polit­i­cal and civic issues fac­ing the Asian com­mu­ni­ty as well as devel­op­ing inno­v­a­tive ideas to address them.

Most of our time dur­ing the con­fer­ence was spent lis­ten­ing to a wide vari­ety of speak­ers that includ­ed WWII vet­er­ans, pro­fes­sors, com­mu­ni­ty advo­cates, Con­gres­sion­al mem­bers and staffers, as well as eth­nic and main­stream jour­nal­ists. Although each of the speak­ers came from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and fields of work, their mes­sage was har­mo­nious to some extent. Almost each mem­ber of every pan­el spoke about the impor­tance of our community’s mem­bers rep­re­sent­ing our community’s issues.

Deepa Iyer, SAALT’s Exec­u­tive Direc­tor spoke on the pan­el titled “Biased Based Inci­dents in the Minor­i­ty Com­mu­ni­ties: His­to­ry to Today” dur­ing which she went through a brief his­to­ry of South Asians in the Unit­ed States fol­lowed by a dis­cus­sion relat­ed to bias inci­dents with­in the South Asian pop­u­la­tion, espe­cial­ly fol­low­ing the 9/11 back­lash.

In addi­tion to these pan­els, we were giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dis­cuss with each oth­er devel­op­ment and out­reach ideas in an attempt to build clos­er ties with local OCA and JACL chap­ters as well as oth­er Asian Amer­i­can orga­ni­za­tions. Each evening we spent vis­it­ing a local land­mark such as the Smith­son­ian Muse­um and Nation­al Japan­ese Amer­i­can Memo­r­i­al to Patri­o­tism Dur­ing World War II after which we had din­ner at a local restau­rant.

The DC Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence was an ide­al forum to con­tin­ue build­ing coali­tions amongst orga­ni­za­tions work­ing with the Asian Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ty by fos­ter­ing rela­tion­ships between the lead­ers with­in them.

Model Minority? No Thanks!

Asian Amer­i­cans broad­ly and South Asians have long con­front­ed main­stream label­ing as mod­el minori­ties. Here at SAALT, we have a few prob­lems with that. The lat­est exam­ple is a com­men­tary post­ed on Forbes.com by Jason Rich­wine. Check out SAALT’s writ­ten response below (it’s also been post­ed on RaceWire):

Model Minority? No, Thanks!

A Response to Feb­ru­ary 24th  Forbes.com Com­men­tary on Indi­an Amer­i­cans: The New Mod­el Minor­i­ty

Deepa Iyer

In his Feb­ru­ary 24th com­men­tary, Jason Rich­wine presents the “rev­e­la­tion” that Indi­an Amer­i­can immi­grants are the “new mod­el minor­i­ty” (see “Indi­an Amer­i­cans: The New Mod­el Minor­i­ty”).  Using this flawed frame, he then pro­pos­es unwork­able and divi­sive immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy changes.  As a nation­al non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that works to fos­ter the full civic and polit­i­cal par­tic­i­pa­tion of the South Asian com­mu­ni­ty, we find these char­ac­ter­i­za­tions to be quite trou­bling.

Rich­wine points to the edu­ca­tion­al and income lev­els of many Indi­an Amer­i­cans (as well as their flair for win­ning spelling bees) as signs that this eth­nic group has reached the high­est ech­e­lons of suc­cess.  Such bench­marks belie the truth about the chal­lenges that many Indi­an Amer­i­cans face, and cre­ate a wedge between Indi­an Amer­i­cans and minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties.

In real­i­ty, Indi­an Amer­i­cans, much like oth­er immi­grants, have diverse expe­ri­ences and back­grounds. Indi­an Amer­i­cans are doc­tors, engi­neers and lawyers, as well as small busi­ness own­ers, domes­tic work­ers, taxi dri­vers and con­ve­nience store employ­ees. Com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers hold a range of immi­gra­tion sta­tus­es and include nat­u­ral­ized cit­i­zens and H‑1B visa­hold­ers, guest­work­ers and stu­dents, undoc­u­ment­ed work­ers and green card hold­ers.  Some have access to high­er edu­ca­tion while oth­ers strug­gle to learn Eng­lish in a new coun­try.  As with all com­mu­ni­ties, Indi­an Amer­i­cans do not come in the same shape and form, and can­not be treat­ed as a mono­lith.

Anoth­er dan­ger with the mod­el minor­i­ty label is that it cre­ates divi­sions between Indi­an Amer­i­cans and oth­er immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.  Beneath the seem­ing­ly pos­i­tive use of the “mod­el minor­i­ty” label is a per­ni­cious racist under­tone: the pur­pose, after all, is to com­pare one set of peo­ple with anoth­er, and the result is to pit minori­ties against one anoth­er.

Com­par­ing Indi­an Amer­i­cans with Mex­i­can Amer­i­cans, as Rich­wine does (“In sharp con­trast to Indi­an Amer­i­cans, most U.S. immi­grants, espe­cial­ly Mex­i­can, are much less wealthy and edu­cat­ed than U.S. natives, even after many years in the coun­try) is an exam­ple of the sort of con­struct­ed divi­sion between immi­grant com­mu­ni­ties that cre­ates cul­tur­al and eth­nic hier­ar­chies.   The use of the mod­el minor­i­ty label results in plac­ing Indi­an Amer­i­cans “above” oth­er com­mu­ni­ties based on cer­tain fac­tors such as edu­ca­tion­al apti­tude or work eth­ic — which are clear­ly shared across eth­nic and cul­tur­al lines.  It fur­ther iso­lates Indi­an Amer­i­cans and makes it chal­leng­ing to build sol­i­dar­i­ty that nat­u­ral­ly aris­es among com­mu­ni­ties that share com­mon expe­ri­ences as immi­grants and peo­ple of col­or in Amer­i­ca.

Using the mod­el minor­i­ty myth to inform immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy can lead to unwork­able solu­tions.  Rich­wine writes that “A new immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy that pri­or­i­tizes skills over fam­i­ly reuni­fi­ca­tion could bring more suc­cess­ful immi­grants to the U.S.  By empha­siz­ing edu­ca­tion, work expe­ri­ence and IQ in our immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy, immi­grant groups from oth­er nation­al back­grounds could join the list of mod­el minori­ties” – one that seems to be head­ed up by Indi­an Amer­i­cans.

But even for this so-called mod­el minor­i­ty, immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy reform must include fam­i­ly reuni­fi­ca­tion (in fact, fam­i­ly mem­bers of green card hold­ers from India have to wait up to 11 years to be reunit­ed with fam­i­ly mem­bers); legal­iza­tion (Indi­ans ranked among the top ten undoc­u­ment­ed pop­u­la­tions in the coun­try in 2008); and pro­grams that enable work­ers – skilled and unskilled – to car­ry out their liveli­hoods with respect and dig­ni­ty.   View­ing immi­grants as com­modi­ties to be used pure­ly for their eco­nom­ic val­ue as a basis for immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy change denies immi­grants the oppor­tu­ni­ties to estab­lish roots, build mean­ing­ful futures, and con­tribute to the diver­si­ty and vibran­cy of our coun­try.

We reject attempts to cre­ate divi­sions, whether they be with­in our own com­mu­ni­ty, or with oth­er com­mu­ni­ties who share sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences, strug­gles, his­to­ries, and val­ues.  We rec­og­nize that our suc­cess and our futures are tied close­ly with that of all immi­grants and peo­ple of col­or.

Deepa Iyer is the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a nation­al non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion locat­ed in the Wash­ing­ton DC area. Ms. Iyer is an immi­grant who moved to the Unit­ed States from India when she was twelve years old.

Sudhir Venkatesh speaking at ChangeMakers Reception of the 2009 South Asian Summit

Sudhir Venkatesh's third book, Gang Leader for a Day

The 2009 South Asian Sum­mit is fast approach­ing (reg­is­ter now!) and its shap­ing up to be an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence. The lat­est devel­op­ment is the announce­ment of the speak­er for the Change­Mak­ers Awards recep­tion, Sud­hir Venkatesh, Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor and author of some very inter­est­ing books about the under­ground econ­o­my in inner city Amer­i­ca (includ­ing one I am cur­rent­ly read­ing: Gang Leader for a Day). We are very excit­ed to bring Venkatesh’s insight and per­spec­tive to the Sum­mit. So don’t miss out on any of the excit­ing events and reg­is­ter for the Sum­mit (Apr 24–26 in Wash­ing­ton, DC) today!

For more infor­ma­tion about the Sum­mit, vis­it <http://www.saalt.org/pages/South-Asian-Summit.html>

How the Economic Downturn is Affecting Nonprofits

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

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

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

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

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

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