We currently live in a complex and uncertain world. In addition to this, content can now be created by anyone, anywhere, and published on multiple platforms – it is hard to differentiate fact from fiction. However, the proper functioning of democracy and governance relies on citizens being aware of their representatives and issues that they support. Direct and transparent dialogue between the constituents and their representatives ensures the minimization of misinformation.
It was great to see that Congressman Ro. Khanna (Congressional District 17) and Senator Dave Cortese (Senate District 15) recently hosted a town hall for the constituents of the Bay Area on April 8th, 2021. This was an opportunity for people to engage with their elected representatives and understand their focus on various critical topics like overcoming COVID-19, housing/homelessness, climate change, and more.
Congressman Khanna mentioned that under the new administration, the federal government has allocated close to 2 billion dollars for infrastructure and development for the area which should help drive positive change within the region. This would help combat homelessness and make affordable housing more accessible. In the last few years, federal cuts in funding to redevelopment agencies had hurt the state’s ability to focus on development projects for the community.
The Bay Area tends to be one of the most diverse and tolerant areas in the US but despite that, it has been contaminated by the recent incidents of hate crimes against Asians. One such assault happened in March when an Asian woman was dragged by the hair and tossed around for over a minute by an assailant who kept cursing her for being Asian. What has been even more troubling is the targeting of the elderly Asian population.
Both Senator Dave Cortese and Congressman Ro. Khanna expressed deep regret and disappointment at the recent escalation of hate incidents and crimes against Asian and Pacific Islander communities. They urged citizens to speak up when they see these incidents happening and also for citizens to be aware of the history of Asian immigrants in the USA. Some of this history is not taught in schools.
On the topic of COVID vaccines, Senator Cortese mentioned that the state was currently receiving 1.8 Million vaccine doses per week and that was going to increase to 2.5 million doses per week and then to 3 million doses per week by the end of the month. This increase could help achieve herd immunity sooner if people choose to get vaccinated as they become eligible for vaccines. The senator also shared how he has pushed for recalculation of equity formula for vaccine allotment for Santa Clara county. You can read more on this topic here.
It is critical that we keep ourselves well informed about the vaccine and encourage our communities to get vaccinated as the vaccines become available. The recent focus of public health messaging has clearly helped with awareness but we all have to play our part in debunking myths and concerns within the South Asian community to play our part.
Curious for more information on issues backed by the Senator and Congressman?
Recently Congressman Khanna was appointed chair of the Subcommittee on Environment. You can read more about the issues that Congressman Khanna is supporting here.
To read more about Senator Cortese’s work you can visit his website.
Rachna Dayal has an M.Sc. in Electrical Engineering and an MBA from IMD. She is a strong advocate of diversity and inclusion and has always felt comfortable challenging traditional norms that prohibit growth or equality. She lives in New Jersey with her family and loves music, traveling, and imagining the future.
The Santa Clara County COVID-19 Community Ambassador Program (CAP) is hosting its first Hindi Language Ambassador Training on Saturday, April 17, 2021 beginning at 11:10 am. We welcome you to participate and become a CAP Ambassador.
For those of you joining for the first time: we ask for your help and leadership as we continue to experience a high number of hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases in Santa Clara County.
As an Ambassador, you will serve as a trusted resource for COVID-19 information in our communities. In this capacity, you will play a key role in educating others about COVID-19 to curb the spread as we continue to vaccinate our residents. Your role will be primarily virtual. You will be trained and provided with weekly toolkits containing topline messages of the week, infographics, videos, and sample social media posts. We will provide you with the latest updates on COVID-19 tests, cases, and vaccines through periodic Ambassador Trainings. Then we will ask you to engage with your networks, groups, and communities to share the facts.
Please join us for the Hindi Language Ambassador Training Saturday, April 17 from 11:10 am – 1:05 pm:
After you register, you will receive a personalized link to join.
This training will provide you with the foundational knowledge to become an expert in our local COVID 19 response efforts:
Ambassador: Roles, Responsibilities, and Resources
COVID-19 Testing 101
COVID-19 Vaccination 101
COVID-19 Communications and Social Media
Please feel free to share this invitation with your networks so that we can all join in this collective effort to get the county closer to exiting this pandemic.
Remember to also follow CAP on social media to easily access and share all updated information with your networks. The links below will direct you to our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube accounts:
YouTube: Santa Clara County CAP
If you have any questions, please contact the CAP Team at SCCCap@bos.sccgov.org. Be Well,
Santa Clara County CAP Team
Information on Americans with Disabilities Act and Accommodations
Zoom offers the accessibility functionality described at https://zoom.us/accessibility. If you have any other access and functional need that will not be met by the features described above, please notify us at SCCCap@bos.sccgov.org or 408-299-5025 by 12:00pm Thursday, April 15.
जप्रय सामुदाजयक नेता और जनवासी:
सािंता क्लारा काउिंटी COVID-19 सामुदाजयक रािदू त काययक्रम (क प -CAP) अपनेप लेज िंदी भाषा के रािदू त प्रजिक्षण, यानेके ट ृनी िंग, केजलए आपका स्वागत करते ैं। य प्रजिक्षण िजनवार, 17 अप्र ल, 2021 को सुब 11:10 िुरू ोगा । म आपको भाग लेनेऔर मारेरािदू त बननेकेजलए आमिंजित करते ैं।
आप मेंसेप ली बार िाजमल ोनेवालेलोगोिंकेजलए म आपकी स ायता और नेतृत्व क़ा जनवेदन करते ैंक्ोिंजक म सािंता क्लारा काउिंटी मेंअस्पताल मेंप्रवेि की उच्च सिंख्या और COVID-19 रोगी मामलोिंमेंवृद्धि अनुभव कर र े ैं।
एक रािदू त के रूप में, आप मारेसमुदायोिंमेंCOVID-19 िानकारी केजलए एक जवश्वसनीय सिंसाधन (टऱसटेठ रीसोरस) के रूप मेंकाम करेंगे। इस क्षमता में, आप COVID-19 को रोकनेकेजलए दू सरोिंको जिजक्षत करनेमें म त्वपूणयभूजमका जनभाएिं गेवीिेषकर इस समय िब मारेजनवाजसयोिंका टीकाकरण िारी ैं। आपकी भूजमका मुख्य रूप सेआभासी ोगी। आपको सप्ता के टॉपलाइन सिंदेिोिं, इन्फोग्राजिक्स, वीजियो और सोिल मीजिया पोस्ट वाले साप्ताज क टू लजकट के साथ प्रजिजक्षत जकया िाएगा और येआपके उपयोग के जलए उपलब्ध ोिंगे। म आपको समय–समय पर रािदू त प्रजिक्षणोिंके माध्यम सेCOVID-19 परीक्षणोिं, मामलोिंऔर टीकोिंके नवीनतम अपिेट प्रदान करेंगे। जिर आप मारेरािदू तोिंके रूप मेंआपके नेटवकय को येअपिेट देंगे।
ज िंदी भाषा का रािदू त प्रजिक्षण िजनवार, 17 अप्र ल को सुब 11:10 बिेसेदोप र 1:05 बिेतक ोगा
पिंिीकरण करनेके बाद, आपको िुड़नेकेजलए एक व्यद्धिगत जलिंक प्राप्त ोगा।
य प्रजिक्षण आपको मारेस्थानीय COVID-19 प्रजतजक्रया प्रयासोिंमेंरािदू त बननेकेजलए ज्ञान प्रदान करेगा:
रािदू त: भूजमकाएँ, जिम्मेदाररयाँऔर सिंसाधन
COVID-19 परीक्षण 101
COVID-19 टीकाकरण 101
COVID-19 सिंचार और सोिल मीजिया
म आपको मारेसमुदाय मेंदू सरोिंको य जनमिंिण भेिनेकेजलए क ते ैं। िब म एकिुट ोकर COVID19 को समाप्त करनेकेजलए काम करेंगे, तो मारा समुदाय मिबूत ोगा।
नीचेजदए गए जलिंक आपको मारेिे सबुक, जिटर, इिंस्टाग्राम और YouTube खातोिंपर जनदेजित करेंगे:
िे सबुक: www.facebook.com/scccap
YouTube: Santa Clara County CAP
यजद आपके कोई प्रश्न ैं, तो कृ पया SCCCap@bos.sccgov.orgपर CAP टीम सेसिंपकय करें। धन्यवाद
सािंता क्लारा काउिंटी क प टीम
जवकलािंगता अजधजनयम और आवास के साथ अमेररजकयोिंपर िानकारी
जूम https://zoom.us/accessibility पर वजणयत पहिंच क्षमता प्रदान करता । यजद आपके पास कोई अन्य पहिंच और कायायत्मक आवश्यकता िो ऊपर वजणयत सुजवधाओिंसेपूरी न ी िं ोगी, तो कृ पया में15 अप्र ल गुरुवार को 12:00 बिेतक SCCCap@bos.sccgov.orgया 408-299-5023 पर सूजचत करें ।
Any day is a good day to learn about protecting the environment, but this month, especially so. Earth Day takes place on April 22 every year and in “normal” times we would participate in a myriad of activities and events to help protect, preserve, and improve the planet we all share. This year has been a bit dystopian, but as we spring forward our hope is that slowly we will get back to normal and enjoy all that the Bay Area has to offer. So, whether you are looking for something to do with the family or by yourself, something quiet, or an outdoor adventure, we’ve got you covered!
The center offers daily guided and audio tours, a great way to raise awareness of environmental issues. There are also many interesting exhibits and on clear days, you’re rewarded with stunning vistas of the city.
Getting there: The Marine Mammal Center is located at 2000 Bunker Road, Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito, CA 94965.
From jellies to penguins to sea otters and sharks, over 200 exhibits and 80,000 plants and animals that call the Monterey Bay Aquarium home. The first museum to have a living kelp forest, the array of exhibits is sure to enthrall tots, from watching marine mammals swim about in humongous tanks that imitate their natural habitats to watching them being fed.
Member days: May 1-14, Open for all: May 15
Getting there: 886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940
A science museum and zoo for children and families where visitors see wild animals up-close and play with kid-friendly science exhibits. CuriOdyssey is home to nearly 100 rescued animals, most native to California, that cannot survive in the wild.
Getting there: 1651 Coyote Point Drive, San Mateo, CA 94401
The 55-acre “urban oasis” with more than 9,000 plants from around the world is always beautiful, but, for obvious reasons, is the most magical in the spring when so many flowers begin to bloom. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the grounds or wander through the gardens and visit flora from Australia, Chile, South Africa, and more, all in one afternoon. April is a good time to see magnolias in bloom, but there are always really cool plants to check out no matter when you go.
Getting there: 501 Stanyan St, San Francisco, CA 94117
This Japanese garden is designed by landscape architect, Nagao Sakurai of the Imperial Palace of Tokyo, and features a granite pagoda, tea house, koi pond and bamboo grove. Visit during spring/summer to feed the koi and catch cherry blossoms in full bloom. There’s also a mini-train that’ll delight kids, tennis courts and many picnic areas.
The garden was designed by Kimio Kimura. It follows Japanese garden design principles, using California native stone and plants. No stains were used on the wood constructions. Nails and fasteners are recessed, and all wood was notched, and aged, to simulate the appearance of a traditional Japanese garden.
Visit this beautiful garden at the peak of its bloom in spring. Situated within Golden Gate Park, the garden showcases over 8,000 species of plants. There are several different collections within the garden, such as Mediterranean and Tropical.
Getting there: 1199 9th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94122
Take advantage of spring in full bloom by renting a paddle, electric, or row boat to tour this hidden gem. Situated in the middle of Golden Gate Park, the lake includes a 110-foot artificial waterfall, colorful Chinese pavilion, and a 125-year-old Stone Bridge. During springtime, visitors will also get the chance to see ducklings and goslings hatch! Rentals start at $24/hr.
Getting there: 1 Stanyan St, Unit 2, San Francisco, CA 94118
An AvGeek’s Nirvana. Beautifully curated exhibits show the past, present, and future of flight. Aircraft are beautifully restored and displayed with exciting angles and exceptional lighting. The museum has more than 50 aerospace vehicles along with companion descriptive displays concerning the history of flight.
Step into the world of Vincent Van Gogh at this trippy exhibit with over 500,000 cubic-feet of illuminated projections of his work that will make you feel like you’re literally inside of his paintings. The “experiential journey” has been modified for COVID times, but still promises to be one of the most unusual and/or cultural things you’ve done in a very long time. The exhibit runs through the beginning of September.
Getting there: 10 South Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94103
Dedicated to destigmatizing mental health and promoting mental health resources. As official sponsors of Crisis Support Services of Alameda County, they donate a portion of their monthly proceeds to suicide prevention services in the local community.
A list of Bay Area environmental/sustainability-related classes, workshops, exhibits, tours, films, and other events. Events posted are directly related to Ecology Center’s main topic areas and located mostly in the East Bay.
Building a grassroots climate movement in the Bay Area and beyond to eliminate carbon pollution and achieve a clean energy future with racial, economic, and environmental justice. San Francisco Bay Area residents building a grassroots movement for deep CO2 emission reductions.
They have local groups in most every county. They have hundreds of volunteers, supported by a small but mighty staff, working since 2012 to:
Raise awareness & urgency for the climate crisis; Mobilize to demand action at the speed & scale required to protect us all from the worst impacts; Support the voices of young people calling for a livable planet; Dig into policy options to get real emissions reductions actions passed
Stop and smell the wildflowers! Spring is when the landscape is alive with carpets of colorful wildflowers. Check out some of the best wildflower displays on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.
The rolling hills in this preserve create a range of habitat types offering refuge for a great diversity of wildflowers. You’ll find the biggest patches of wildflowers along the sunny, southern-facing slopes.
Getting there: 1530 Arastradero Road, 1/4 mile north of Page Mill Road.
Giant redwoods tower over the cool waters of the San Lorenzo River in this park. It contains one of the largest stands of old-growth redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and an abundance of spring flowers add to the beauty of this landscape.
Getting there: River Trail (Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park)
Just a short drive from downtown San Jose, this preserve offers phenomenal views of Coyote Valley, the Diablo Mountain Range, and a plethora of spring flowers. You don’t have to
complete the full loop to get your fill of spectacular flowers.
Getting there: From Highway 101, take Bailey Avenue west, Turn left on Santa Teresa Boulevard, Turn right on Palm Avenue. The preserve is at the end of Palm Avenue.
Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor, her experience spans television, cable news, and magazines. An avid traveler and foodie, she loves artisan food and finding hidden gems: restaurants, recipes, destinations. She can be reached at: email@example.com
Every year around this time, the community of film lovers mingles with film creators, directors, and artists at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose downtown’s many theaters. Giving film artists and film lovers a rare opportunity to connect at nightly soirees, the fun part about attending the film festival is a chance to talk to other people about the experience.
However, Covid times call for a pivot, and though there won’t be any in-person screenings, Cinequest is coming back with a virtual edition. Cinejoy, as the online edition is being called, will run March 20-30, with more than 150 U.S. and world premiere movies featured in the Showcase lineup and several high-profile movies in the Spotlight portion. The Showcase films can be viewed anytime by passholders but the 12 Spotlight movies will be shown at specific times.
Zoom parties can never really replicate the magic of the nightly parties, where you converse with like-minded film lovers, filmmakers, and performers, but Cinejoy is attempting to create a sense of community with Zoom-hosted “screening parties.” Ticketholders can host one or join in someone else’s.
Here is a sneak peek into films of Indian origin:
A glorious love story about transformation and giving in to the things we want most. While on her journey to fetch medicine to treat her sick father, a woman falls in love, gets married, and hopes to lead the life she wanted. But, even the Gods of Nature disapprove. A journey that explores the unexplored and challenges what we view as “normal.”
An alcoholic bank employee from Chennai has to solve a strange mystery: why did he wake up one morning with a horse’s tail?
A stark, beautifully animated short story that sheds light on what human destruction is doing to our beautiful planet.
Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor, her experience spans television, cable news, and magazines. An avid traveler and foodie, she loves artisan food and finding hidden gems: restaurants, recipes, destinations. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Around the same time, Shivina Chugh, a junior at MSJHS in Fremont, was becoming increasingly worried as well. Rishabh and Shivina joined forces to help raise awareness for this cause as both their moms have been at the front line fighting this war and wanted to do their part to save people’s lives at the front line. After researching how the risks faced by frontline workers could be mitigated, they found that, in addition to other PPE, reusable and washable bio-suits helped keep the infection rate low among the healthcare workers in South Korea. Their research indicated that these bio-suits were already used in a few emergency rooms in hospitals across the United States but were not readily available.
They ran the idea of sourcing the bio-suits by their moms, a few Intensive Care Unit directors, and infection control personnel in a few hospitals who saw this project’s great value. At this point, they started contacting a few more hospitals to explore an interest in bio-suit as a way to increase protection for their staff. Not only was this idea well-received by the hospitals they contacted, but they also started getting referrals.
Seeing a high demand for bio suits and other PPE, they decided to set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds. Fremont Bridge Rotary Club also contributed to this cause by raising money for this project. Together they raised $4,050 and were able to work with a few vendors to get bio-suits and other PPE promptly and pilot it in a few hospitals.
These bio-suits were delivered to Medical staff in ICU’S of Kindred Hospital and St. Rose Hospital. In addition, handing over bio suits to Alameda Highland County hospital in Oakland, CA, was immensely satisfying to the team because these residents provide care for the indigent patient population and, with bio suits, could avoid the high risk of catching infections that can prove fatal.
Dr. Steven Sackrin, at Alameda Highland County Hospital, said, “I want to extend our sincere thanks to your organization, Save your Saviors. The contribution of personal protective equipment is deeply appreciated. The bio suits are a particularly great addition to our supplies. The bio suits offer a superior degree of protection. It is so nice that they can be cleaned and reused. Most of our patients already have immense challenges, medical and especially non-medical. And our environment is already a bit threadbare and not on many people’s radar. But a sense of mission generally infuses the facility. It was so great that your organization was willing to share its efforts and contributions with this institution. Thank you very, very much for your generosity, thoughtfulness, and the grit/work that it took to accomplish what you have done.”
Dr. Evelyn Nakagawa at Kindred hospital echoed similar sentiments “Save your Saviors has provided bio suits that offer an extra layer of safety and help healthcare workers focus on their work with peace.
Save your Saviors campaign initially raised money and helped save lives of Health care workers to buy Bio suits and launch them in several Intensive care units of Bay Area Hospitals. After finishing their first phase of helping Bay Area Health care workers, they have furthered this campaign to help some other segments of society who are greatly impacted in this COVID crisis time. They have done several drives to raise money to provide food and personal items required for the homeless shelter and domestic violence survivors. They are immensely thankful to several families in the Bay area who generously contributed to such a noble cause. One of the drives with their contributions, approximately worth $2000, has been shared with the vulnerable survivors in dire need.
Whether they are health care workers or underprivileged people in society like domestic violence survivors or homeless shelters, the fight to save people’s lives continues forward by these students’ efforts. They continue with their efforts during this unprecedented time. You can help their efforts here.
Shivina Chugh is a rising senior at Mission San Jose High School, Fremont, CA. She is very active in her school clubs, Relay for Life, DECA, Peer Support Group and is the co-founder of the Save Your Saviors, which has helped the medical community during times of COVID-19 and continues to do so.
Rishabh Saxena is a senior at Bellarmine College Prep School in San Jose, CA. He grew up building lego puzzles, tennis, and skiing. He is passionate about helping people. He founded Save your Saviors to serve the community.
The Bay Area is a great place to live in. It is blessed with progressive land planning that has set aside vast open space areas for recreation. Measures, like Measure Q and now T, to be voted in by the people, ensure that open spaces in Santa Clara Valley stay protected and accessible.
During the lock-down, families truly appreciate the value of access to public parks and open spaces.
Atulya Sarin, Professor of Santa Clara University lost his beloved 12 year old dog Bufar Bryant Sarin last year. During the pandemic Sarin yearned to be outdoors . “I truly understand how my dog Bufar felt,” says Atulya Sarin with a smile, “I can’t wait for 5pm when I can go for my walk.”
“We can zone land any which way, but a different council can change that. It is critical therefore that in addition to legislation to create a conservation program we must have the Open Space Authority have resources to purchase and protect the land permanently,” he said.
A case in point is Coyote Valley – 7,400 acres of land between the Santa Cruz mountains and the Diablo range. The land is key for flood protection and safeguarding the valley’s ecological livelihood.
In the 1980s, Apple eyed Coyote Valley as a place to build its world headquarters. In the 1990s, Cisco Systems tried to build a massive campus there. Environmental groups, who said the area — currently used by farmers and wildlife — should be left in its natural state, fought both proposals.
“We all know a little bit of development causes a domino effect and next thing you know it really becomes a totally different type of landscape.
The pandemic and wildfires have choked California this year.
“Scientists are telling us that we need to protect 30 percent of the land to keep global warming at bay,” said Kalra. “The more land we can protect the more we can combat global warming. We are seeing how human behavior is connected to all these tragedies,” he said.
South Bay leaders at the press briefing urged a vote for Measure T, which would preserve a tax used for parks and open areas.
“We need to protect this open space for the preservation of a sustainable future for California,” said state Assemblymember Ash Kalra, a long-time environmental advocate.
Expanding public access to nature improves public health“Spending as little as two hours a week in nature, 15-20 minutes a day, can improve self-reported health and well-being,” says Sadiya Muqueeth, director community health at the Trust for Public Land.
“We can fix it! We created it and we can fix it,” said Kalra
(Featured Image: Srishti Prabha at the September 23, 2020 protest at San Jose City Hall)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of India Currents and India Currents does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
Imagine you were sleeping in your house and you heard someone break-in. Would you protect yourself and your family?
Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend, fired his gun in self-defense, in accordance with Kentucky gun laws, which permits the shooting of someone trespassing on your territory. He was immediately arrested with an attempted murder charge and his partner was fatally shot.
The three white Louisville Metro Police Department officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove, who shot and killed Breonna Taylor, roamed free after the incident. Last week, September 23, 2020, they were cleared of the first-degree murder charge, with only one officer receiving a lighter indictment for wanton endangerment.
A protest was in order. In a case so clear, how could these men be let off with a slap on the wrist? I took to the streets of San Jose to show my support for the injustice inflicted upon Breonna Taylor’s memory and her family.
A bright and beautiful black woman, who served her community as an EMT, was taken in her sleep.
“Black women matter!,” we chanted as a group at SJ City Hall. A group much smaller than what I had seen earlier this year.
“White supremacy and far-right violence in the US is a problem that…is poorly understood, partly because the federal government deprioritizes it and the state and local governments don’t want to pick up the slack,” informed German. A consistent issue and a potential threat since the 90s, the ideology of white supremacy cannot be dismantled unless it is understood.
Why do I bring up white supremacy in relation to Breonna Taylor? It’s this simple.
The initial act of entering unannounced and shooting an unarmed black woman comes from the fear of her Blackness. The potential cover-up of her murder and the subsequent ruling in favor of the three white cops is the influence and power accrued from fear and oppression of colored communities.
There is always some ambiguity in a case or the possibility of nitpicking a story. Here is the question that should be asked…
Did the warrant put out related to a drug offense that was MAYBE loosely linked to the use of Breonna Taylor’s house require an unwarranted attack?
The fact remains that black people are disproportionately exposed to such encounters or convicted of crimes. Why is that?
Brennan Center for Justice finds that “structural or institutional bias against people of color, shaped by long-standing racial, economic, and social inequities, infects the criminal justice system.” And these systemic inequities are exacerbated and can lead to implicit bias when the law enforcement interacts with the public.
In any ordinary job, negligence would lead to the loss of a job, at the very least. Even insider trading has a consequence. And killing an innocent person has little to no repercussion?
“Crime in the United States has been a highly politicized issue,” Michael German very succinctly states. Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove did not do their job. A job where their first and foremost duty was to provide safety to the community they served, to the people they served, to Breonna Taylor.
A study by The Sentencing Project provides some historical basis for the drivers of this disparity. They find three recurrent explanations from a multistudy analysis: policy and practice, the role of implicit bias and stereotyping in decision-making, and structural disadvantages in communities of color which are associated with high rates of offending and arrest.
The structural disadvantage for communities of color permeates through and beyond policing. Societal thought and implicit bias are part of the quotidian. Dr. Dorothy Johnson-Speight and her nonprofit organization, Mothers in Charge, work to understand the violence in their communities. Johnson-Speight didn’t need to be part of the criminal justice system to live through the injustices faced in her community. As a mother who lost her adult son to gun violence, she poignantly said, “You don’t really have a clue, if you haven’t walked in those shoes.”
During the briefing, she mentions case after case where there is video evidence that speaks contrary to the police narrative. She uses Breonna Taylor’s murder to highlight the multitude of ways that powerful people use untruths to support the violence inflicted in her communities.
“She has never had any criminal history but to save the face of the corrupt police officers…to get them off [for murder]…they create these untrue stories. These are the kinds of things that have been happening in communities of color for years.”
What needs to happen for these narratives to be revised? Where do we start?
No one understands this better than community activist and CoFounder of Silicon Valley De-Bug, Raj Jayadev. “Communities have been sacrificed in the name of safety”, advocates Jayadev and very quickly makes the adverse correlation between safety and policing. The premise of law and order has been synonymous with policing, surveillance, prosecution, and incarceration, yet, evidence proves those two are antithetical.
Jayadev’s organization runs out of San Jose, a rather progressive city with a low crime rate. Despite this, he points out that San Jose has a relatively high rate of death caused by police violence. White supremacy is not limited to one particular space, it is national. We are all having the same political discourse.
Jayadev probes, “How do we reimagine safety, safety for all, if law and order isn’t the mechanism to get there?”
“Defund The Police” reads my sign that I hold up to passing cars at City Hall. I hear a call, “What is her name?!” The group responds, “Breonna Taylor!”
In unison we chant, “Black Lives Matter” to anyone who is willing to hear us.
Black Lives Matter. Say Their Names. Defund The Police.
The words are different but the message is one. We are hoping and praying for a reimagined world in which safety means communities of color are part of the whole. A world where safety means equal access to mental health services, education, livable wages, rehabilitation, halfway homes, housing, and social services geared towards the benefit of all.
Deprogramming what we know is difficult and will take time. Together we can reimagine…
Srishti Prabha is the Assistant Editor at India Currents and has worked in low income/affordable housing as an advocate for children, women, and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.
Staying inspired requires energy in the best of times. Doing so while sheltering-in-place, dealing with canceled shows, complete lack of a real audience, and asynchronous, socially distant jam sessions strikes a discordant note in the life of artists and art organizations alike.
In the face of these odds, Sangam Arts’ Mosaic Silicon Valley initiative and San Jose Jazz are continuing to bring harmony into our lives. On Thursday, Sept 24, “Making the Mosaic” will bring us not just music, but a premier collaboration between two musicians from different cultures, Saxophonist George Brooks and Sitarist Arjun Verma. The two musician-composer-educators will first improvise in words and then in melody, virtually.
“Making the Mosaic has provided me with a wonderful opportunity to get to know Arjun as a composer and performer. It has been a unique experience in that we have not been able to be in the same space as we developed the material for this program,” shared Brooks. ”To stay true to the spirit of improvisation, which sits at the core of jazz and Indian classical music performance, the final layers of the performances are recorded live and in single takes. It has been demanding work, but very rewarding.”
The musicians have been creative not just in their art, but in overcoming the challenges of collaborating during shelter-in-place. Since they did not have the option of working with an actual band, they created a virtual band using layers of sitar, saxophone, and bass clarinet.
Mosaic Silicon Valley’s mission is to connect communities through inter-cultural art. The organization purposefully commissions work that brings together high-caliber artists from disparate cultures with the goal of celebrating the differences while highlighting the common threads. As co-founder Usha Srinivasan puts it, “We see artists as the ambassadors to their cultures; when we bring them together, we bring entire communities together.”
Verma is a Mosaic Fellow and believes that “All music from every corner of this planet has the same fundamental building blocks, and when we, as artists, reach across the boundaries of musical genre, we realize this fact. More importantly, we realize the same is true about our humanity. Indian classical music shares an important feature along with jazz: the use of improvisation, or ‘composing on the spot’ as my teacher Ali Akbar Khan described it. This gives us the freedom to express ourselves spontaneously through music in a way that is extremely fresh and personal.”
Krishna Parthasarathy drove to Fairfield to check his in-law’s home, as they were out of town. “There were cops all around,” he said. “We had to say we had to evacuate the cat. This is not the first time this has happened.”
Mr. Parthasarathy tried to think about what his in-laws would want him to take. He cleared out the puja room. Every single thing, including the mandap, hand-stitched Bhagavad Gita paintings, and photos of the acharyas.
Face masks and sanitation supplies were the top two items on evacuation packing lists found online. With California reaching over 700,000 COVID cases this was a stark reminder that families concerned about the survival of their homes must also take precautions with their physical health.
Padma Srinivasan of Fremont could not see down the street from her home, which was in an evacuation warning zone. “What happened was one day, it got so bad. The road going from our house is a little narrow. So, we left,” said Ms. Srinivasan. “I took some essential things. Some things that are sentimental and some things that are valuable.”
After the fires started, the Air Quality Index for many districts went past 170, well into the Unhealthy range. Yaamini Rao, who lives up the Peninsula, was woken up by the lighting that first Sunday. Since then she has been staying indoors. “You can see the haze all over. It smells like an endless campfire,” said Ms. Rao.
This experience has prompted many to reflect on what is valuable and important and essential. “We have so many possessions and they can become a burden. We don’t need that much to live, you know?,” said Ms. Srinivasan. “When we go to Yama, Yama does not let us bring a suitcase. We go empty-handed,” said Mr. Parthasarathy.
For the next year, my ability to Google will be ensured by the fact that roughly 200,000 people across 50 countries are working from home.
And, I can like your Facebook posts for, well, forever, because Mark Zuckerberg “guesses as much as 50 percent of the company’s 45,000-person workforce could be working entirely remotely in the next five to 10 years.”
These may be private sector decisions. But they impact the public’s understanding of immigrants and immigration. And that leads policymakers to value the Googler much more than the farmworker.
Look, as COVID-19 cases keep growing across California, the state’s tech industry and its nearly 1.8 million workers in 2018 — with over 805,000 of those jobs in San Francisco and San Jose — is doing fine. Their companies are growing, their bottom lines look great.
And, with the exception of those on the sector’s retail or gig front line, most are working from home.
The breathless media coverage leads us to think that this is the new reality for most workers. It is not.
Among U.S. workers, 11 percent are employed in the agricultural and food sectors — almost twice as many as those who work in tech. Of the approximately 22 million full- and part-time jobs in the ag and food sector, about 2.6 million are direct on-farm jobs, and nearly 13 million are jobs in food service, eating and drinking places.
These workers are not earning six-figure salaries. And they definitely are not working from home. (If they are working at all.)
In fact, go about two hours east of the work-from-home Silicon Valley and you find yourself in the hot fields of the Central Valley where more than 250 different crops, with an estimated value of $17 billion per year, are grown. In total, the Valley supplies 8% of U.S. agricultural output (by value) and produces a quarter of the nation’s food, including 40% of our fruits, nuts, and other table foods.
Over 675,000 people work in the agricultural industry up and down the Central Valley.
In California, like across the country, these are the jobs that require workers to go to the “office.” But, for these workers, the office is a field, a farm, or a ranch where something needs to be planted or picked, cared for, or caught.
Everything surrounding these jobs puts people at risk. Sharing a ride to work, close quarters at the workplace, homes that do not afford any modicum of social distancing. As a result, the rate of positive coronavirus tests in the Central Valley could be as high as 17.7% — more than double the 7.8% statewide average over the last seven days.
While California works to get financial and medical resources directly to these agricultural communities, the federal government turns a blind eye. Under the CARES Act, both parents must have Social Security numbers for the family to receive relief. This makes entire families, including U.S. citizen children and spouses, ineligible for much-needed COVID-19 economic assistance.
This is a dynamic playing out in communities across the country. Immigrant families, even those with U.S. citizens among them, are going without any sort of relief.
These are trying times that require all of us to sacrifice. For some, the sacrifice is social distancing and working from home, while raising a family. For others, it is losing your job altogether.
And, for others, it is doing a job that is essential to the health of the country — but detrimental to your own health.
As we approach six months of this national crisis, it is easy to lose perspective and think that our own reality is the reality of others, to believe that our protection from COVID-19 is the same protection others have.
We begin to think COVID-19 is a disease “they” get. “They” did something to put themselves at risk. “They” were not healthy enough to fight off the disease. “They” live somewhere else, do something else.
Well, more than we probably realize, “they” are putting food on our table. And, “they” are most likely to be people of color and/or immigrants.
This lack of perspective leads the nation down a slippery path where economic and social divisions widen, where moral leadership is replaced by transactional leadership, where the bottom line is more important than people.
It’s a dangerous path that leaves the least among us without support — left to fend for themselves without health care or financial relief.
There is still time for the country to get off this path, and for Congress to ensure that all of us can access the relief and support we need.
The fact is that the skilled farmworker, documented or not, putting food on our table is just as, if not more, important to our lives and livelihood as the skilled engineer putting Google on our screens.
I care so deeply and strongly for the minority communities in America. This is not a question of a singular time point but a story that transcends time and geographical location. I dedicated my life to the cause when I began to see how profoundly entrenched the problems were within our government.
In just a few short months, compounded factors have exposed that network.
Ask yourself the questions:
Who is working on the frontlines?
Who doesn’t have food access?
Who doesn’t have healthcare access?
Who doesn’t have shelter access?
Who has lost their job?
Who is being abused?
Who is being targeted by the police?
You will find that the same people can be grouped into the answer to many of those questions.
Violence creates a response. I see that. I understand that. I am with that. When Trayvon Martin died unarmed, at the young age of 17 in 2012, the Black Lives Matter movement gained traction and I saw a path forward.
“I can’t breathe”, said Eric Garner as he was ruthlessly murdered by cops in 2014 – for what reason – possibly selling untaxed cigarettes.
And so many more have died. Here were are today – #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd, #JusticeForAhmaudArbery, #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor.
None of their murderers have faced prison time.
In 2016, I felt helpless when I was pulled over in Alabama and asked to step out of my vehicle and come to the back of my car to speak with a white officer. The person in the passenger seat had no view of me and was not allowed out of the car. I was cited for driving 5 miles below the speed limit but my stop had nothing to do with my driving and more to do with my skin color, a brown-skinned woman traveling with all her belongings on a road trip home to California. She must be an illegal immigrant.
I was let go but so many aren’t. I feel the injustice. I want to protest. But now I find myself asking the question, in the middle of a pandemic, is that the smartest move?
As I scroll through my Instagram feed, it seems that every person I know is engaged in the BLM movement – even the ones who have been apolitical till this point, the ones rapping the n-word without being part of the black community, and the ones who have shut me down for being too “political” for talking about these issues.
I’m unsure how to feel.
Is this a product of unrest or restlessness of being at home?
Unfortunately, killings by police are not isolated to a few times a year. Mapping Police Violence is a great resource and presents a reality that is not surprising to me. Out of 365 days last year, there were only 27 days that the police did not kill someone – an indication of oversight in due process.
This is not a singular time point. We are not in this for instant gratification.
So we quickly share the information we see on social media, join the cause, spread awareness. We see something happening and we are quick to act, rightfully so. BUT then the next hashtag comes around and we forget the last one…
Social media activism can be beneficial, as we’ve seen with #MeToo and #BLM, but with #BlackOutTuesday, there was criticism, almost immediately. People began the day by posting black squares but soon after, black and brown activists were cautioning people to spread information rather than suppressing it by blacking out Instagram feeds.
Even as an engaged, politically active person, I was confused about what stance to take. Eventually, I took down my post with a black square. I am in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, which I will execute through my actions, spread of information, donations to groups, and dialogue with my family and friends. It doesn’t need to be on social media.
What I AM seeing: people coalescing in a way like never before.
Who cares if you were unaware before. I’m glad you’re part of the movement NOW.
Social media doesn’t need to be performative. But it can remain informative. Take the time to reflect and find the best way for yourself to get involved. Keep in mind your social responsibility with the ongoing pandemic:
Protest with a group of fewer than 6 people at your neighborhood street corner. Maintain social distance.
If there is a curfew in your city, like the one in San Jose, go outside and walk around for 10 minutes after curfew (only if it is safe for you to do so).
Start conversations with people you normally would not.
If you don’t currently have money, the AdSense revenue from these following videos will be given to organizations working on black movements:
Srishti Prabha is the Assistant Editor at India Currents and could not have written this piece without the help of all the black and brown activists sharing valuable information. Most of the information within this article is compiled with the help of Ritika Kumar. Thank you to all the black and brown people committed to change!
Maybe because we are both Indian, Canadian-born, Bay Area transplants? Though 20 years my senior, Ash Kalra speaks my language. He mirrors my experience, taking a non-traditional path of social justice.
Not an engineer or a doctor? You are already a deviant. Let’s take it one step further, pursuing career paths that are not lucrative or linear, that of community-based work – perplexing, shameful. These pressures are not unbeknownst to Ash. A UCSB graduate in Communications, Public Defender turned Assemblyman, paying off his law degree takes a backseat to his passion for uplifting others.
“My whole career has been about reducing suffering” – a poignant sentiment. Kalra has settled on this theme for his life’s work. Serving California’s 27th assembly district, Ash Kalra is the first Indian American to serve in California’s state legislature.
In his three years in office, he has been prolific, having 27 bills signed. He has fought for affordable, low-income housing and against homelessness as a co-author of SB 50 and AB 330. He is also the Chair of the Labor and Employment Committee for the State Assembly and has championed for Union rights. Kalra takes action to protect the environment, co-sponsoring bills such as the Clean Air Act, Coyote Valley Conservation Program, Deforestation-Free Procurement Act. He has been honored by the ACLU of California as a Civil Liberties Champion- one of five legislators in the Assembly who received a ‘perfect score’ on championing civil liberties issues.
But I wanted to know more than just his political platform. He is speaking for Indian-Americans on a large scale, does he feel representative of who I am – a San Jose raised, Indian-American, low-income woman? My shoes are small and hard to fill. Is Ash Kalra ready for this responsibility?
After having met him, I would say yes. His work moves beyond just progressive bill measures; he educates Assembly Members and constituents on Indian heritage and history. What I’m finding is that Ash Kalra’s movements transcend just education and are his way of life.
Ash articulates that growing up Hindu, the very ideals and morals that his parents ingrained in him when he was young, were antithetical to their views about his career pursuits when he was older.
That hits home.
“Atithi Devo Bhava,” this translates to “Guest is God” and it is a phrase that is thrown around Indian households. Giving back to those around us and foregoing materialism is an inherent part of Hinduism. So why is this, that which becomes second nature, at odds with an inquiry for a career, lifelong happiness, and ultimately success?
Ash gets it. He gets the consistent struggle of being Indian AND American. He may be the role model I’ve been seeking for so long but had a lack of exposure to. He is genuine, well informed, engaged but most importantly, doesn’t shy away from his culture. He redefines the vision of an Indian-American.
When I asked him about the political responsibility of the Indian-American in the Bay Area, Ash emphasized that “our responsibility is to our community” and that we must remember that as Americans. It can be confusing for immigrants, split between two cultures. We will never feel connected to this country if we don’t become engaged community members, yet, at times we feel disconnected due to the lack of representation. Ash reminds us that civic duty goes beyond being Indian American. And if we never start, we will not conceive the reality we seek.
Being the first Indian-American in California State Legislature, there are many antiquated archetypes that are projected on him and people that look like him. When I ask him about this, he dispels the myths about Indian model minorities in one statement, “the myth erases those that are struggling”. Indian-Americans are working jobs in the labor sector and they are quickly becoming the highest growing undocumented population in the US. There are many Indians that need people that look like them, to give them a voice. To shed light on their misgivings. To create policy that is inclusive of them.
I asked him one last question before I left, and this one is for my SVC- Palo AltoYouth and Government kids who were in Sacramento just a few weeks before, taking over the Capitol building, sitting in the very seat that Ash Kalra was in a day before: Is cereal a soup?
Kalra gives me a hard NO.
Though we align on almost all things, I guess even we can have our differences. A gentle reminder and a sentiment Ash mentions earlier, we need to be inclusive of people that may seem unlike us.
Ash Kalra is the now, forging the path for people like me.
He keeps moving but not away from his community or upbringing. He can very easily be found eating at Loving Hut, listening to Iron Maiden, before heading to a walk for candidates supporting the Labor Council.
Ash Kalra is up for re-election this Presidential Primaries cycle on March 3, 2020. He represents California’s 27th State Assembly district which encompasses Downtown San Jose, East San Jose, and parts of Southeast San Jose. Kalra has served one term of his two-term limit as State Assemblyman. To learn more about him and his platform, check out his site and his voting record.
Srishti Prabha is the current Assistant Editor at India Currents and has worked in low income/affordable housing as an advocate for women and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.