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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

The Reunited States is a powerful documentary about the rampant division in America with a difference. It offers solutions. It tracks Black Lives Matter and Susan Bro’s mission for social justice from the anniversary of the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally up until her breakthrough with Congress to pass the bipartisan Khalid Jabara-Heather Heyer NO HATE Act. The documentary is inspired by the book The Reunited States Of America: How to Bridge The Partisan Divide by Mark Gerzon, who served as a consulting producer and also appears in the film. It is directed by an Indian American Ben Rekhi and produced by Raj Krishna. It features Steven Olikara, of the Millennial Action Project; Greg Orman, an independent politician who ran for Governor of Kansas in 2018; and David and Erin Leaverton, who took a road trip to all fifty states with their three kids in an RV in an effort to understand why our nation was hurting.

The Reunited States is produced by Van Jones and Megan McCain. The film was well-received at the Cinequest Film Festival and also at the Atlanta DocuFest and the United Nations Association Film Festival. Dark Star media owns the domestic distribution rights and it will release on-demand on the 9th of February 2021′ you can view it on Amazon and iTunes platforms!

Six years leading to the current election have illustrated that we are far from united. Fractured by politics, region, race, gender, religion, education, and socioeconomic equity, our country almost came to the verge of a lost democracy on January 6, 2021. This documentary offers solutions to bridge the chasm by recruiting all citizens of the country and encouraging them to really listen to why others are hurting?

The film is easy to follow and touches on the lives of many disenfranchised Americans. The narrative empowers us to address critical issues at hand in a more coherent way. Democracy is not easy.

Division is a human problem. For a democracy to survive, we have to recognize our rights and work through differences. The Reunited States forces us to do the work. We have to acknowledge our shared dark history regarding Native Americans and African slaves. After that, we can lay our current problems on the table: racial and gender inequality; crumbling education systems; inadequate healthcare; failing education; unemployment; regional differences; crumbling infrastructure; climate change, and misinformation.

Production still from Reunited States of America.

Once everyone has their skin in the game, it may be possible to navigate difficult conversations, break psychological barriers and understand the meaning of peaceful coexistence. The film addresses that it may not be too late to realize that the “two party” political system might be misusing American dollars to keep themselves in power rather caring for the voters. Misunderstanding and othering spurs hate.

Hate is not only caustic to the person who hates but it also disseminates fear. We cannot remain United by being out of rhythm with our neighbours and trying to protect ourselves with our guns. We have to care for our injured veterans, our elderly, our sick and make sure no one feels that they have “a boot” on their neck. It will not be an easy road, but if we take one deliberate step at a time we will be able to stomp out conspiracies and make an authentic Reunited States, where  “good”, “inclusive”, “courageous” words matter.  What promises hold.

If we wear the mantle to reunite our country and save the United States, we can hope to secure a better future of our progeny. To quote Megan McCain “there is a path forward, together!”

A must watch to save our United States! I strongly recommend all South Asian Americans to get involved in this dialogue to save our democracy. If we don’t have our skin in the game, we will be sidelined.

The Reunited States team had South Asians take the lead: Ben Rekhi, Raj Krishna, and Nisha Anand. In an exclusive Q&A session with India Currents, Co-Producer Raj Krishna, a second generation Indian American, said he was unsettled about the future of the United States in the wake of troubling racist events of 2016. His involvement with this project depicting the hope and unity among everyday Americans was cathartic to his personal mounting anxiety. Raj emphasized that it’s crucial for the South Asian community to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and present a cohesive front with them. Raj believes that we can draw “important lessons against social discrimination by revisiting the problems created by Indian caste system”. We can lessen the divide by realizing that “we all need one another”.

Nisha Anand, the CEO of Dreamcorps recounted her personal family story of the Indian partition. At the time of 1947 division, it was the people around her who chose to honor our shared humanity. Nisha recalls having a Muslim family swear on the Quran that they were not hiding any Hindus (her family). This neighborly act of compassion surmounted religion. What a wonderful lesson of hope! 

Anand accepts the ingrained stigma against dark skin complexions in the Indian psyche. She promotes antiracist sentiment to older South Asian Americans by patiently telling them: “I see it a little differently”. This is a good way to make them acknowledge her point of view without antagonizing them. 

After viewing the film and communicating with the filmmakers, I believe that these young South Asian Americans are using the tools of their multicultural heritage to “build bridges” and to realize the somewhat elusive American Dream! 

They have taken a good first step in the right direction. The film does not convey a biased Left versus Right political view. It just exposes why people are hurting. What disparities communities are facing? We all need to get involved at grass root levels, as students, teachers, parents and engineers, doctors, entrepreneurs and lawyers to advocate for a fair playing field. It does not take a village. In this case, it takes the whole country. Let’s all answer their call to action and walk with them. 

YouTube video

Monita Soni has one foot in Huntsville, Alabama, the other in her birth home India and a heart steeped in humanity. Monita has published many poems, essays, and two books, My Light Reflections and Flow Through My Heart. You can hear her commentaries on Sundial Writers Corner WLRH 89.3FM.

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Monita Soni

Monita Soni grew up in Mumbai and works as a pathologist in Alabama. She is well known for her creative nonfiction and poetry pieces inspired by family, faith, food, home, and art. She has written two...