By Naishadh Saraiya
To my undecided friends:
While there is an excitement over the selection of Kamala Harris as a VP candidate on the Democratic ticket, there are also some hushed comments about her views on law and order and whether she is pro India or not. There are also some who claim she is not proud of her heritage as part Indian that she is calling herself as black.
I recently listened to her narrative on her upbringing in Oakland and Berkeley; how Shyamala, her mother, would take her in a stroller to the protest marches and how she was trained to speak up for her rights. She talked about visiting Madras (now Chennai) and going for a walk with her grandfather, again talking about social justice and rights. She remembers growing up with her sister Maya and how they moved around after her parents were divorced.
She was very much in tune with what an immigrant goes through the system here to make a life and prosper. It is no different than what most of us who came to the US in the late fifties or early sixties have experienced. Unlike Bobby (Piyush) Jindal, Kamala does not hide her ethnicity or roots.
While we hold India dear to our heart and take pride when India achieves a noteworthy event, the fact remains that we have emigrated to this country a long time ago and have now called the US our adopted country and a home. Very few will ever return to our home country, our children are raised here and are birthright citizens. Our grandchildren are growing up nicely and climbing the success ladder in all walks of life. We surely wish India all the best, however we do not have any say in that formulation. We cannot even vote!
But we do have a voice here. We can engage in the politics and help shape the policies that can help us and by extension, India. We can vote and exercise our rights to select people who will stand up for the rights of immigrants and fight racism.
We have seen and experienced the last four years of blatant racism (yes, we ARE people of color) and anti- immigration policies. Ask 4000 H1(b) visa holders who are separated from the family because they went to India and cannot come back till 2021 on Trump’s Executive Order.
Please remember the history. Outsiders ruled India for centuries by “divide and rule” idea. A handful of Britishers, from 4000 miles away, ruled India for hundreds of years using this principle. Republicans are employing the same techniques, by creating phony issues and thus dividing our vote.
We are a strong 1.2MM voters in the swing states. Trump won those by mere 150,000 votes TOTAL. If we unite and vote as a block, we have a tremendous opportunity to swing these states to blue and have a powerful say in the future policies.
If we become a single- issue voter, be it a tax break benefiting our stock portfolio or anti Islam sentimentalist, we have succumbed to this divide and rule propaganda. There is a lot more at stake than this narrow ideology. At stake is our children and grandchildren's future. If Trump and the Republican senate retains power, the Supreme Court will decidedly turn extreme conservative. Who will override Trump’s EOs proclaiming that all children born to non- citizens are same as DACA? How many of our children will fall into this group? Who will defy him when he will stop immigration from India or other non-white countries? Who will stop him from “white Supremacist” agenda?
I heard and saw a comment by one of the single-issue friends of mine to be “careful” when we vote, implying that the Biden/Harris ticket may not be as good. To them, I say, yes, do THINK about the consequence of Trump and the Republicans retaining the power.
About Naishadh Saraiya
Immigrated to the US in the early sixties and became a citizen in 1976, I got involved in Bill Clinton's campaign in 1992. Took a long hiatus till 2016 when Hillary became a nominee; could not stand the idea of Trump as my potential President.
Joined "Indivisibles" group at a local chapter (Orchard City Indivisibles") in 2017. Came to know They See Blue through OCI and joined them in 2018. Campaigned for the congressional candidates on behalf of both groups but a full time member of TSB since 2019.
Trained as a Chemical Engineer, part of the founding team of four start-ups, one in the Boston area and the others in Silicon Valley, Bay Area. Retired in 2011 upon successful transition of ownership and currently a Core team member of They See Blue.