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Interview Sonali Lappin by Razia Mashkoor
Vigil for solidarity for Indians death
Boston Common, Boston, MA
Friday, March 10, 2017 at 5:30pm

Q Tell me about you and your current position you are holding to serve Indian community?

I am a political consultant and have worked in various political roles for the past several years. I also serve as the President of the Indian American Forum for Political Education Massachusetts, which is the oldest non-partisan organization of its kind that seeks to engage Indian Americans in the political process.

Q How do you see this political scenario in today’s life of the people of Indian origin.

The Massachusetts Indian American community is shocked, devastated, and frightened by the recent rise in racism and hatred fueled violence against Indians, Indian Americans, and other targeted groups across the US. This violence has hit young people very hard. Racism doesn’t live in the past, it lives and breathes today. The message of our vigil is clear: even as a ‘model minority’ we are not immune to racism and hate crimes. This crime transcends ethnicity, race, gender, political affiliation, and socio-economic status. By holding this vigil and others like it we honor the life of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and proclaim that the Indian community will not stand silently in the face of hate-fueled violence and aggression towards anyone.

Q Why have there been so many recent attacks on Indian?

During the 2016 Presidential election, there was a large focus on immigration and terrorism. National conversations around these issues have always been contentious. Since the election results, radical views surrounding these topics have become increasingly more mainstream under our current Administration. This phenomenon coupled with the current Administration’s own perpetuation of scapegoating and profiling has encouraged and emboldened groups of people to act on their feelings of hatred.

Q What was your first thought when you heard attacks on Indians?

I felt a deep sense of grief, frustration, and the desire to comfort the Indian American community as well as other communities suffering or being targeted by policy changes, scare tactics and scapegoating rhetoric.

Q Why can there be only one Vigil? Is it enough to protest?

This is just one of what I hope are many vigils, demonstrations, and coalition building events initiated by members of the Indian American and South Asian communities. Protesting can be an effective form of political and social activism when it is organized under a clear vision.

Vigil Organizer Sonali Lappin

Q What kind of response you received from the community about this Vigil?

The response has been very positive and engaged. Many people offered to volunteer to make sure this event goes smoothly. They are true leaders in my book and I thank them for their support and generosity.

Q. What suggestions do you have at this point for Indian community?
Every individual must be empowered. This means one should be well, education about our country, state and local politics as well as the what we are each capable of doing to instill progress, change, and the wellbeing of others. Indian Americans have a long and ancient history that includes non-violence, political activism against colonialism, advances in science, math, and technology, and a deep commitment to the arts and social philanthropy. This is our Shakti and our power. We should bring it to every aspect of our lives and every corner of our country.

Q What about security concerns for tomorrow vigil?

I encourage everyone to feel safe while gathering together in this free speech zone and want to remind them that their rights are protected under the Constitution and many global human rights laws. Just because you are or are not a citizen, just because you are black or brown, does not give someone else the right to treat you like you are sub-human. And, it certainly does not give anyone the right to end your life.

Q. What are the details of tomorrow’s program?

Traditionally, a vigil is when one remembers the deceased. A vigil is also when you stay alert to guard something, someone, or an idea.

The purpose of this vigil is to peacefully gather to honor the life and memory of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed on February 22, 2017 by Adam Purinton who believed that Mr. Kuchibhotla did not belong to our American community.
We plead with all community organizations to join us to unite against forces that are tearing us apart. We would be very grateful if you would invite your friends, family, colleagues, and like-minded organizations in coming together as one.

Many are bringing battery operated tea lights and flowers. Please feel free to contribute these items to the event.
Peace and Love

(This story has not been edited by BDC staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed from IANS.)


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