- Participate in the essay and art contest hosted by Hindus for Human Rights on South Asian heritage and its connection to America’s Civil Rights Movement.
The stories of South Asian youth living in America are often not considered a part of the nation’s history. In comparison to the tales of generations of western European immigrant families now living in Pittsburgh or New York, the endless pages in the American history textbook describing the history of German and Irish immigrant enclaves on the eastern seaboard, South Asian history is deemed unimportant and obscure. When do we hear about the Muslim Bengali men and women who came to America and lived alongside communities of color in Baltimore? When do we hear about the South Asians who immigrated to America’s Pacific Coast and started the medical centers and motels we see today?
The books have never done justice to the South Asian community in America. And we can’t wait for them to play catch-up. Our stories need to be told because America was built on the backs of our ancestors along with those of other communities. And our history in America only exists because of the Civil Rights Movement during which the stories of marginalized and underrepresented Black Americans were liberated.
The path that has been paved for us as a result of this movement now necessitates more action on our part to represent South Asian communities and bring attention to the lives and rights of the America that is too often othered.
Our voices will be heard and there is a myriad of ways South Asian youth can express themselves openly and creatively. One way to do this is by reaching out and getting involved with organizations that advocate for the rights and representation of minority groups in America. By participating in their programs, activities, and campaigns, you can help amplify the lesser-known histories and peoples of our nation.
Hindus for Human Rights is one such organization that actively works to connect with American youth of South Asian descent by offering volunteer positions and opportunities such as creative essay contests. This essay and art contest is currently open and invites young individuals across the nation to submit essays and pieces of art on the topic of “Civil Rights, Black Lives, and My South Asian Identity.”
With such an open and creative prompt, this is your opportunity to voice your perspective on your South Asian heritage and its connection to America’s Civil Rights Movement. There aren’t many restrictions on how you should approach this topic, so let your passion guide the creative process.
Creativity is the key to affecting change. Use opportunities such as this one to continue to search, hunt, and fight for ways to represent the South Asian community and other marginalized groups — it is a responsibility that falls on our shoulders as first-generation Americans.
I urge you to remember our history and let this sentiment drive your work: our story is America’s story.
Meghna Sudhakar is an aspiring activist and entrepreneur passionate about issues such as Native American women’s rights and gun violence in America. Through her membership with Amnesty International in leading her school’s chapter, she strives to inspire legislation and action on these issues by initiating discussion with policymakers and legislators as well as implementing reform within her own community. In the future, Meghna hopes to continue to lead efforts uniting peoples of the world by going into international affairs and business.