Deepa Iyer is a South Asian American activist, writer, and lawyer. Deepa is currently the Senior Fellow at the Center for Social Inclusion where she provides analysis, commentary and scholarship on equity and solidarity in America’s changing racial landscape.
In November 2015, The New Press published Deepa’s first book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future. Scholar Vijay Prashad has written that Deepa “brings the head of a lawyer and the heart of a community activist to bear on her remarkable book…It is a window into the struggles of the margins that allow the mainstream to remain humane.” Deepa’s book was selected by the American Librarians Association’s Booklist magazine to be one of the top 10 multicultural non-fiction books of the year.
Most recently, Deepa served as the Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). While at SAALT for nearly a decade, Deepa shaped the formation of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), a network of local South Asian groups, and served as Chair of the National Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA).
Deepa’s work on immigrant and civil rights issues began at the Asian American Justice Center in the late 1990s. She also served as Trial Attorney at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where with two other attorneys, she shaped an initiative to address post 9/11 backlash, and as Legal Director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC), where she worked on a multiracial, community-led campaign to pass the DC Language Access Act.
Deepa has also taught classes on Asian American movements and South Asian American communities at Columbia University, Hunter College. Deepa is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland where she served as Activist-in-Residence in the Asian American Studies Program in 2014.
Deepa’s opinion editorials on issues ranging from the post 9/11 backlash to immigration reform to anti-Black racism have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Al-Jazeera America, USA Today, The Nation, and Colorlines.
An immigrant who moved to Kentucky from Kerala (India) when she was twelve, Deepa graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School and Vanderbilt University. Deepa is the Chair of the Board of Directors of Race Forward. She blogs at www.deepaiyer.com and tweets at @dviyer.