The two essays are winning essays by students in the competition, Growing Up Asian in America organized by Asian Pacific Fund.  They were asked to write a letter to Senator Kamala Harris.

“Beneath All Skin there is a Soul”

Dear Senator Harris:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”— Martin Luther King Jr. This dream has not yet been fulfilled. Over 250 African-American people were killed by police in 2016; 22 percent of Hispanic-Americans admitted to experiencng discrimination; Muslim-Americans are irrationally suspected for wrongdoings committed by a minority, while many suffering refugees are stopped from entering America. When will we let go of skin color or religion and open our eyes to see that every individual is defined by their ambitions and their actions?

Many believe that segregation once present in America is a matter of the past. This notion is completely contradicted by recent actions. Though Muslim-Americans have been victims of social inequity, political actions have been taken to prevent them  from entering the country. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” states the Constitution—yet an act blatantly created to prevent people belonging to a certain religion from entering the country is currently in action.

As a senator, you represent the voice of the people. You also have the power to write new bills. I hope you will use your influence on the future of our country to prevent such actions from being repeated in the future, and work towards creating bills to improve and better the state of racial and religious discrimination. As America’s diversity increases, so does America’s fear of diversity in proportion. We need to accept rather than segregate, to see that beneath our skin color and religious beliefs, we are human.

We are a country of immigrants. Seeing how my immigrant parents enhance the lives of many around them has greatly widened my awareness on the role such individuals play here. Allowing such intolerance seems  to be not only a breach of the Constitution. Beneath all skin, whether it is of natives or of immigrants, there is a soul; this soul determines who we are. “Our true nationality is mankind.”— H.G Wells. Maybe one day, when we learn to embrace with open arms, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream will come true.

Sincerely, Avighna Suresh.

This essay is an Honorable Mention Winner in the essay contest, Growing Up Asian in America, conducted by Asia Pacific Fund.

Avighna Suresh is an eighth grader from Challenger school in Fremont.


A Letter of Hopes

Dear Mrs. Harris,
We live in a country of creativity. We live in a country where everyone can speak. We  live in a country where ideas spark into actions. This country continues to improve each day, but people still face discrimination. As an eight year old girl living in Los Angeles , I was always embarrassed to embrace my culture. I continually asked my parents why I was different, why my eyes were brown instead of blue, why my skin was darker than others. In my school, there were only two other Indians. All my friends had blue-green eyes, golden hair, and light skin. I longed to be exactly like them. I could not take away my heritage and culture, yet I always wanted to. In Los Angeles, I only saw people who looked the same.  I was different and for so long I wanted to be identical.  I was embarrassed to eat rice and curry for lunch, so instead I ate grilled cheese to fit in. My family used to go to temples and wear Indian clothes. I was always ashamed to wear them out in public for everyone to see and judge. I always packed extra clothes to change into. If I could say something to my younger self, I would say that it’s acceptable to be different and embrace it.

Currently, I am a thirteen year old living in the Bay Area. I look like everyone else, I am the same. I met people who are brown-eyed, brown-skinned, and have black hair. I fit in and am happy to share my culture and my heritage with everyone. I am no longer abashed to go out in public wearing traditional Indian clothes. I enjoy embracing my heritage.

However, I see people who are like my old friends, who want to be the same. So, I have a hope for the country. I hope for people not to be judged based on religion, gender, skin color, or past, but on their merits , their contributions to society, community service, their positive roles in associations. I hope people will be appreciated based on their actions, for actions speak louder than words.

As a senator, I hope you will stand for everyone. I hope you will tell everyone that it is alright that you are different, that each and every one of us is unique in our own way. I hope you will stand for the voices that cannot be heard. If you accomplish this, we grow. We develop. We cultivate. If you do, then we become a country of prosperity.

Sincerely, Manasa Ayyala. 

This essay is an Honorable Mention Winner in the essay contest, Growing Up Asian in America, conducted by Asia Pacific Fund.

Manasa Ayyala is an eighth grader from Fallon Middle school in Dublin.

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