- As South Asian Americans, we need to put aside our politics in order to ensure America doesn’t descend into the dark world of back-alley illegal abortions, work-place prejudice and a world where women are the second sex once again.
Be scared! Be very, very scared if you are a woman, especially if you are a woman. Because with the passing away of a legend who fought for equal rights, and most specifically for women’s rights as fundamental rights, the scenario unfolding in the next few months will indeed be surreal, scary and, if we are not careful, damaging to the very fabric of American civil society as we know it today.
Think about a world where your 16-year-old daughter finds her high school sweetheart. They are in a steady, stable relationship. They both are dreaming for college and a world beyond – together, with each other. But something happens. A bit too much to drink one day, it was wonderful and heck, one time wouldn’t make a difference, right? It does. Your 16-year-old finds herself pregnant. She or her boyfriend don’t want that pregnancy, they wanted a family after college, after a career, after marriage — but it is here.
What do you do as a parent? A. Ask the two 16-yr-olds to accept their responsibility. B. tell them you are there for them but you have an extremely demanding job yourself — you were looking forward to being empty nesters to give yourself a break from back-breaking job, child care and the daily grind that just doesn’t seem to stop. C. You explain the scenario and ask them to decide what they want to do. The kids — they are kids – are scared and don’t know what to do. They seek counseling — and because the pregnancy is very, very early stages – they are advised they can seek abortion as an option if that is what they want.
It is an obvious answer — the kids are in no way, shape or form ready to take on this responsibility so the girl says yes to this painful, heartbreaking procedure. But fast-forward 2021, your daughter and you are turned away. She is slapped with various legal jargons that don’t mean a thing – all she knows is she has no control over her own body. Courts and law and government decide what she can do and that is at 16 she is being asked to be an adult. To raise a child as a child.
And morality aside – it’s so easy to be that righteous person and pontificate that well, if the kids can have sex, they are adults and should be help responsible. Well, they are not. They are kids. Having sex does not constitute to having a fully developed brain at 16, that can make logical decisions. Here’s another one for you — what happens when you get raped and you are asked to give birth to the child born out of that rape and asked to keep your rapist in your life for the child’s sake by the courts. You are horrified and know you can’t do that. You seek an illegal abortion clinic person who is not registered and knowing how dangerous the procedure can be you undergo it. It is messy, scary and extremely horrifying but you do it – in the process you put your life at risk but you knew you had no choice.
Another scenario — you as a 35-year-old are in a job that you love, a career that you dreamed of. And lo and behold you find yourself pregnant. You and your husband are ecstatic. Your oldest is 10 and the youngest is 5 so you are ok with it. But then you start noticing how your dream job, your lovely career is starting to stink a little bit. You are taken off the projects you initiated, no new projects are coming your way and your boss is extra snarly. You complain to HR – you are told, well, it’s company first – and well, the company is already giving you 6 weeks of paid leave. Please don’t ask the company to accommodate you. It should be the other way around, you are lectured.
The above scenarios are not mythical – these could happen and do happen. These scenarios were the reason Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or RBG or more endearingly the Notorious RBG as she became known as fought for her whole life. First as a young litigator and then as a justice at the nation’s highest court. Her dissents were legendary. I heard on cable news after her death one of her clerks describe how she would read RBG’s dissent first and the verdict second because to her the dissent was everything she wanted to be a lawyer in the first place. It reaffirmed her faith in the future of this country, the future of all women, all immigrants and all people of color that this land was their land too!
In my own South Asian Community, there is a renewed sense of purpose – once the disbelief and sadness of her passing was over. A close friend called me to say how he was energized to do something — not just lament about the possibility of this Presidency filling in her vacancy before the November elections, a weeks days, compared to the 11 months in 2016 when Machiavellian Mitch declared with his usual pompous, guttural and wobbly turtle/turkey neck — “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” And after RBG’s death he was the first among a slew of Repugs (I absolutely LOVE this word I came across in several social media posts) who said her seat would be filled ASAP, mere 40-some days before elections.
The social media is full of RBG support from among the desi community – from laments and wails that need to stop now to updated profile pics of RBG or her legendary lace collar which is great. There have been renewed dialogues on how it is imperative that America as a collective whole continues the fight for gender equality, for fighting racial injustice and for ensuring that millions of immigrants like us who came to these shores, continue to do so and find their own little piece of American dream to fulfill.
Our community doesn’t always agree with the progressives or more specifically the fiscal conservatives amongst us who do not believe in tax cuts for the rich and those who are Modi followers do not see immigrants granted the same privilege as they were. But when it comes to fundamental issues of immigration, of racial injustice, of gender equality and of the right to choose, we can’t go back being an ostrich thinking America of the pre-Roe v Wade will not affect us. It will. Big time! So Please Vote! Vote like your life depended on it!
Kuhu Singh lives in Eden Prairie, Minn., a suburb of the Twin Cities. Bidding adieu to journalism a decade ago, she nonetheless loves to write and express her very strong opinions on social media and blogs and sometimes in a few Indian publications. She is a Senior Digital Marketing Manager for a broadcast retail company. Race relations, diversity, social issues fascinate and roil her into action. She volunteers her time with certain political organizations and community organizations.