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President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris stand with Jill Biden after delivering remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Nov. 7, 2020, after being declared the winners of the presidential election. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

On Nov. 8, 2016 we watched with the rest of America as Donald J. Trump was elected president of the United States – and almost immediately, the South Asian community whom we serve at SAN was under attack, with threats to their access to healthcare, ability to apply for public benefits, and stay in the country. So many in our community felt unsafe with the rise of hate crimes against South Asian Americans and the white supremacists who were emboldened by the rhetoric from the White House.

Fast forward four years and Kamala Harris, an Indian American woman, has been elected vice president of the United States. A glorious affirmation that we do belong. This is our country and this is our democracy. Both she and President-elect Biden used the word "possibilities" to describe America. And, it's true – there are very few places in this world where the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants could rise up the ranks on her own merit and be elected to the second most powerful seat in our government. Possibilities.

And, as proof that our democracy is still kicking, a record number of voters participated in this year's election. And, while we don't have the tally yet on South Asian participation, we know from the many conversations we had that so many of you were actively involved in getting out the vote. Because you believed that your vote and your voice matter. Possibilities.

We congratulate President-elect Joseph Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory, and all of our newly elected and re-elected state and local leaders. We look forward to working with them as we rebuild a more just, inclusive, and diverse America. We will continue to hold our elected officials on both sides of the aisle accountable and speak up on issues that impact our community.

Civic engagement is not only about voting. In order to continue to amplify the needs of our community, we will need more South Asian Americans fully engaged and knowledgeable about their rights, policies and laws that impact them, and how to speak up and be heard.

The South Asian Network continues to be the only South Asian organization in the greater Los Angeles area with a dedicated civic engagement program. We help our community members apply for U.S. citizenship, register to vote, provide in-language information on how and where to vote, advocate for language access, and ensure that they understand the importance of voting and cast their ballots via mail or in-person.

In 2017, following President Trump's inauguration, we hosted a community town hall to address questions and fears South Asians had about the many new policies and executive orders that were being passed. Over the last four years, we hosted discussions on immigrant rights, hate crimes, and South Asian civic engagement. And, this past year, we spearheaded a Census 2020 outreach for the South Asian community in Southern California.

We do this with very little funding, but know how vital it is for our community. You can help support and strengthen this important work with a recurring donation of $15/month.

Thank you to the South Asian Bar Association's Public Interest Foundation and the Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Alliance for their generous support of our ‘Desi Vote 2020 ‘campaign.

Get some rest, America!

Shikha Bhatnagar

Executive Director,

South Asian Network

Los Angeles, California

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