By: Debashri S. (as seen in our April 2020 newsletter)
If you had told me before Nov 2016 that I’d be canvassing, writing postcards and actively participating in political events, I’d have called you crazy. But here we are. And, I am sure this is the story of many of us. Many of us fostered political opinions, but never thought, that we would “get involved” ourselves.
I became an American citizen, a couple of months after Trump wassworn in as President. He was too engrossed in hating immigrants full-time then, and I didn’t have to see him blabbering on the screen during my citizenship ceremony because they didn’t have his video address. I came out of the ceremony hall and excitedly registered to vote. Weeks later,I was still not registered.So, I called up the Secretary of State’s office and they said that they hadn’t received my application. It took a lot of back and forth and submitting my Citizenship proof 3 times, to get registered. And then, 2 months later, I got a letter from the Secretary of State’s office that they didn’t have my proof of Citizenship and that if I didn’t submit it, my vote would be invalid.I realized that this was not normal. This is not how things were supposed to be, not in USA at least!
I then thought about what I could do, to get involved, to change the elected officials who made it difficult for even someone like me, who’s meticulous with paperwork (an 11-year immigration process will do that to you), to vote. I must admit that it wasn’t easy. I am very socially inept. It makes me anxious to talk to strangers. But my neighbor, who’s a solid Democrat, sent me an invite to a meeting and before I knew it, I was a Precinct Captain (mostly because I couldn’t say ‘No’ to the nice lady who asked!). So, now, I had to do something! I started by having postcard writing parties and inviting strangers into our home. In the process, I made new friends – who shared my ideals. I started enjoying it more and more, started attending campaign events. But I still stayed away from canvassing. That was still out of my comfort zone.
One day, I received an invite to canvass Desis for our Gubernatorial Race. The invite said that we would be doing that in groups, so I convinced myself that it wouldn’t be too bad. I hesitantly turned up at Anjali’s house and for the first time, I met Desi folks who I thought existed only in other people’s Facebook posts – openly discussing politics, actively campaigning for Democrats, organizing political events – and seemed to have eluded me so far. I had a fun time canvassing that day! It also helped that Jon Ossoff, who had run for Congress in 2017 (and was my first ever vote) joined us. Stacey Abrams lost the Gubernatorial Race, and the guy who tried to keep me from voting – Brian Kemp – won. That was disappointing. But in the same mid-term election, we flipped the GA-6 seat after almost 40 years and elected Lucy McBath. We also flipped the State House and Senate Seats. So, when Anjali told me about the They See Blue (TSB), Georgia group, I jumped at the opportunity to join.
To me, it is still surreal to be amongst Desis and be discussing politics and especially, to be expressing disagreements.But it sure is fun!And the best part is, we know we are making a change for the better. We are working towards electing politicians who actually share our values and work for us. They See Blue, Georgia had our official kickoff event in February 2020. It was a humongous success. It gave us the opportunity to listen to leaders in our community and to some of our wonderful Democratic candidates. But, more than anything, it gave us hope, that we are moving towards a better future and that we Desis are doing our part in bringing about that change.