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Author: Deepa Iyer

We Too Sing America on Campus

We Too Sing America on Campus

Dear WTSA Family,

I had a wonderful visit to the University of Pittsburgh this week where I had the opportunity to meet with students, high school teachers, and administrators. Many thanks to the Alliance of South Asians in Pittsburgh and the programs within Pitt that invited me to campus.

We talked about how the themes in #WeTooSingAmerica foreshadowed today’s political environment, and how we can disrupt and build bridges in our communities to meet the “urgency of now”, in the words of MLK Jr.

For more, please see:…/activist-students-discuss-us-race-r…/

I continue to speak to teachers and students – and would love to be invited to your campus or school. Please reach out at

An Indian immigrant’s fight for US citizenship in 1923 holds lessons in Trump’s America

An Indian immigrant’s fight for US citizenship in 1923 holds lessons in Trump’s America

Dear WTSA Family,

I wanted to share an essay I wrote for Scroll about how 95 year old narratives about immigrants continue to threaten us today. The essay starts with the Supreme Court’s decision (delivered 95 years ago this month) that Bhagat Singh Thind (who argued he was a free white person) and other Indian immigrants were racially ineligible for citizenship.

“A nuanced historic understanding of the desperate political circumstances that Thind and other Asian immigrants faced in the 1920s may provide some balance to the legitimate critiques we can make today about his reliance on caste and color arguments, his choice to identify as white rather than black or African, and his decision not to question the racial premise behind naturalization laws. Thind made these choices at a time when there was no immigrant rights movement, no thoughtful analyses around racial dynamics, and no positive representations of immigrants in popular culture or media. However, today, we are in a different place. Yes, inhumane immigration laws and xenophobic narratives persist in this country. And yes, Indian immigrants of all immigration statuses face devastating barriers to work, live, and be united with family members because of the broken immigration system. Despite these conditions, we must come together to unify our stories and experiences and to build solidarity with immigrants of all backgrounds and statuses.”

I was inspired to write it by my dear friend, Bupen Ram, who is and will always be a bright, bright light. The essay includes shout-outs to Thenmozhi SoundararajanBangladeshi American Women’s Development Initiative – BAWDIRavi Ragbir, and others who are ensuring that we don’t pit ourselves against each other in today’s immigration struggle.

To read the full article, please visit:

From Silos to Solidarity: Learning from 2017’s Resistance Movements

From Silos to Solidarity: Learning from 2017’s Resistance Movements

Dear WTSA Family,

As we begin another year of resistance, what can 2017’s movements teach us about solidarity practices? I wrote this essay on Medium, which might be useful for organizers, activists, and those supporting resistance movements. Please provide feedback about what I’ve missed here, and what your experiences have been around solidarity and resistance movements.

Here’s an excerpt:

The changing racial demographics of the United States and the pushback on the rights of communities of color demand that we transition from organizational silos to community-based solidarity. As we assess our resistance in 2017 and prepare for another year of fighting back inhumane policies, we should rely upon solidarity practice as an important strategy in the activist toolbox. But, we must also sharpen our solidarity work: we must move beyond race as the single and sole organizing force to bring communities together; we must work within our own communities to lovingly challenge biases as we proclaim unity with other movements; and we must ensure that we are not caught in a cycle of rapid response and emergency postures that end up harming our own people and organizations.

For more please visit: From Silos to Solidarity: Learning from 2017’s Resistance Movements

Listen to Solidarity: Our Community is Our Campaign

Listen to Solidarity: Our Community is Our Campaign

Dear We Too Sing America Community:

Please listen to the November 2017 episode of Solidarity is This, which features a conversation with M. Adams and Kabzuag Vaj, the co-directors of Freedom, Inc, a non-profit organization in Madison, Wisconsin that organizes Black and Hmong communities.

Be sure to check out the accompanying syllabus for the newest episode.

For more, please visit:

Listen to the Solidarity Is This Podcast

Listen to the Solidarity Is This Podcast

Dear We Too Sing America community: I’m so excited to share with you my new monthly podcast called Solidarity Is This. On each episode, my guests and I tackle questions about how to build multiracial solidarity in this particular moment in the American story.

Solidarity. It’s become a buzzword. But what does solidarity mean in reality? What are solidarity values and how do we center them? And how do we go about practicing solidarity, as activists, as organizations, as people who care deeply about building inclusive schools, campuses, workplaces and neighborhoods?

Listen to the first episode, Bystander, Upstander and then head over to the Solidarity Is This website to listen to them all.

For more, please visit:

Reckoning with Trauma 16 Years After

Reckoning with Trauma 16 Years After

Dear WTSA Community: Each of us have our own experiences, insights and stories about 9/11. Many of you know that I’ve spent the bulk of my time in movement work focused on issues affecting South Asian, Muslim, Arab and Sikh communities in post 9/11 America. On the 16th anniversary of 9/11, I wrote a personal essay on the toll of trauma on activists and organizations. I’d love your feedback or thoughts if you have a moment.

Here’s an excerpt:

“I probably haven’t dealt adequately with the impact of September 11th on my own life. In the days that followed 9/11, I had sprung into action, and I’m not sure that I ever stopped. Over the following decade and a half, I have borne witness to a litany of crises targeting our communities. I am not the only one.”

For more, please visit:

Thank you in advance for reading and sharing.

Standing Up to Islamophobia in our Public Libraries

Standing Up to Islamophobia in our Public Libraries

Public libraries have always played an important role in my life (and now in my seven year old’s!) and I’ve appreciated being able to bring We Too Sing America to public libraries. That’s why I was excited to write this article for the School Library Journal about how public libraries can create safe and brave spaces to stand up to Islamophobia and xenophobia, especially in today’s climate. Every public institution in America must be prepared to address the changing racial landscape and the racial realities that come with them.

There’s also a wonderful profile of the important work at Oakland Public Library accompanying the piece. I hope you’ll read and share.

For more, please see:

Airlines Are Policing the Bodies and Behavior of Women-of-Color Passengers

Airlines Are Policing the Bodies and Behavior of Women-of-Color Passengers

Dear We Too Sing America community:

I have been angry and appalled by the more recent experiences that women of color passengers are having on airlines and airports across the nation, though this has been happening for quite some time, and I wrote an essay about it at The Nation Magazine:

“In a time of #MeToo testimonials and in the midst of national conversations about misogyny and sexual violence, it is not surprising that many women of color resonate with Anila Daultazai and Tamika Mallory. Their experiences sting because they remind us that women and girls of color face judgment, devaluation, invisibility, and physical violence in every sector, from schools to workplaces to encounters with the police. We can’t view what happened to Daulatzai and Mallory in a vacuum either. Both incidents are tinged with the same Islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, and anti-blackness that we see in our country through government policies and in hateful rhetoric.”

For more, please visit:…/airlines-are-policing-the-bodi…/

Please read and share, and continue to call upon the airlines and airline industry to make systemic changes.

And the Winners Are…

And the Winners Are…

Dear We Too Sing America Community! In early March, when We Too Sing America arrived in paperback, I pledged to give away 10 books – one to an individual and one to an organization of their choice. My publisher, The New Press, matched that giveaway so I’m excited to announce that 20 individuals and 20 organizations are receiving autographed and free copies of the book! To ensure that the book has the broadest reach possible, I also picked winners from 20 different states.

185 people entered the giveaway which surprised and thrilled me – thank you to everyone who entered for your support and interest in the themes of We Too Sing America.

The winners are …

Philadelphia, Pennyslvania

Hajer Alfaham

Center for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Immigration at University of Pennsylvania

San Francisco, California

Ankita Rakhe

Bay Area Solidarity Summer

Austin, Texas

Sahil Solankee

Rice University Chao Center for Asian Studies (Houston)

Chicago Illinois

Priya Ghosh

Chicago Public Library

Seattle, Washington

Barb Chamberlain

YES Foundation of White Center

Alma, Michigan

Kate Blanchard

Alma College Dept of Religious Studies

Raleigh, North Carolina

Noor Abualhawa

Islamic Association of Raleigh

Denver, Colorado

Aditi Ramaswami

Asian Health Alliance of Colorado

Staten Island, New York

Catherine Ma

Kingsborough Community College Library, CUNY, Brooklyn, NY

Ridgefield, Connecticut

Neeta Pardanani Connally

Ridgefield Public Library

Fairfax, Virginia

Harmeet Kamboj

Asian and Pacific Islander Studies Program at the College of William and Mary

Potomac, Maryland

Aleena Durrani

Islamic Center of Maryland, Gaithersburg MD

Birmingham, Alabama

Edward Still

St. Alban’s Episcopal Church

Portland Oregon

Joseph Santos-Lyons

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon

Washington DC

Maryum Saifee

Next Wave Muslim Initiative

St. Louis, Missouri

Purvi Patel

Washington University Center for Diversity and Inclusion

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Kay Bounkeua

New Mexico Asian Family Center

Louisville, Kentucky

Adelaide McComb

University of Louisville

Norman, Oklahoma

Amy Bradshaw

Norman Public Library

Princeton Junction, New Jersey

Brenda Deverell Cortez

Mercer County Library (Windsor, NJ)

CONGRATULATIONS! I’ll be emailing the winners soon with more details.

If you’d like to help get We Too Sing America to wider audiences, please contact me at

Letter to The Revolution

Letter to The Revolution

I am sharing my Letter to The Revolution, with a focus on my younger South Asian sisters – and some thoughts on making choices, lifting each other up, and sparkling in this moment.

“To my younger South Asian sister-activist-warriors:

I see you. You’re outraged and determined. You are ready to build this resistance, to be on the frontlines, to give voice to the struggle. Because this is personal. It is about our people, our families, our communities, ourselves.”

Please read and share if it moves you!
And write your own letter – more at Letters to the Revolution.

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