When I arrived in the United States in 1984, an Indian graduate student wanting to study African-American history, I was an anomaly. Most of my fellow South Asians were in STEM doctoral programs.
During the Reagan years, I supported the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition and the Democratic Socialists of America in their attempt to push the Democratic Party and the United States to the left.
Still, I could have ill imagined that one day an African-American man would become the president or that a woman of Jamaican and Indian descent would be a candidate for the vice presidency.
After graduation, I interviewed across the country for college positions teaching early American history. I was asked over and over again why, as an Indian woman, I chose to study the history of slavery and the Civil War.
Usually, I described the connections between Mahatma Gandhi’s notion of satyagraha, the struggle for truth, and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s version of nonviolent resistance. The one interview where no one asked me that question was for an assistant professor position in African-American Studies. I took that job.
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