Monday, June 15, 2020

Two Contrasting Messages For Americans From India

Below is the self explanatory header for an article the UK's Daily Mail, which profiles one of the leaders of the insurrection in Seattle. Kshama Sawant was raised in India, but apparently never noticed inequality and poverty until she came to the US--funny, that. Her message for Americans is: Off With Their Heads! If you have to ask, Whose heads? you're part of the problem.

The firebrand behind Seattle's CHAZ: Councilwoman and socialist Kshama Sawant, 46, who is refusing to let cops into the six-block zone lives in an $800,000 home but has railed against gentrification of Seattle

  • Kshama Sawant, 46, has been described as a leader in the creation of Seattle's Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone
  • The city councilwoman has urged fellow activists not to allow cops back into the six-block zone set up in the center of the city
  • Indian-born Sawant worked as a software engineer before migrating to the US, where she was 'radicalized by the inequality and poverty' that she saw 
  • Sawant became the first socialist to be elected to Seattle's City Council in 2013; she recently endorsed Bernie Sanders for President
  • However, she has come under fire for railing against gentrification while being married to a Microsoft engineer; she is also reported to live in a $800K home 
  • One Seattle Times columnist has compared her to the Queen in Alice In Wonderland, because of her 'off with their heads' political style 

I like this photograph from the Daily Mail of two 'protestors' in Seattle:

By contrast, here's a message for Americans from the pastor of a local parish (local to me) who is also from India. My observation is that the priest is much darker skinned that is Sawant. The priest published these comments in his parish bulletin. He makes the usual PC protestations and obeisances, but also offers this:

Over the last thirty-five years when I have lived in the US, in spite of the color of my skin I have always felt that I belong. Not a single person has made me feel that I was an outsider. I don’t believe anyone treated me differently because I was born in another country. Maybe because I am a priest and I spend my life trying to serve others, I have only received much love and kindness. 
I did not have the feeling of totally belonging when I lived in Europe. Even though I spoke Italian and integrated myself into the Italian culture, I knew I would not be fully accepted. Every time I would come to the US – at least twice a year – as I landed at O’Hare I would say to myself, “I am home.” That was not a feeling I had in Italy. 
I felt sometimes as an outsider even in my native country. My own brothers and sisters have suffered discrimination because of our faith. 
There is more prejudice in India than anywhere else (as far as I know). The system of discrimination and prejudice known as the caste system is enshrined in the holy books of Hinduism. The present nationalist party in power has declared a war against minorities. It has gone so far as to say that Christians and Muslims are not Indians because they follow foreign religions. 
I have told my friends and family back in India that Americans treat everyone well. I firmly believe that the US is the beacon on the hill that welcomes the huddled masses to offer them new avenues for life and prosperity. I feel encouraged by the promises enshrined in our Constitution and the oath of allegiance – “justice and liberty for all.” Over the last several decades, we have made much progress towards equality and justice.

1 comment:

  1. Mark, a Brit friend who had lived in Calcutta told me how different complexions can be in various parts of India. I know that an oncologist friend from Jaipur (via the Anderson Cancer Center in Texas) is very light-skinned. I have a hunch that this privileged Seattle woman has protected her skin from melanin-producing sunlight as the upper class Chinese women do in our community. Tanned faces and bodies = peasants.

    Whatever her color, I resent her inflicting her politics on us...