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Change Is Through Struggle, Not Politics

Change Is Through Struggle, Not Politics

Change Is Through Struggle, Not Politics

Photo: Warren K Leffler, Library of Congress

By Shakeel Syed

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history,” said Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose life we celebrate this week.

For South Asian Americans to earn their rightful place in the public square as citizens with equal rights, change cannot come through the likes of pseudo-progressive politicians or deceptively patriotic candidates, such as Nikky Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy.

As a child of immigrants, he is “lifting talking points from neo-Nazis,” said Kica Matos, the president of the National Immigration Law Center about Vivek Ramaswamy, a self-proclaimed pseudo-patriot who seemed to have forgotten his South Asian immigrant roots.

Similarly, only after a major backlash, Nikki Haley, another child of South Asian immigrants was forced to acknowledge that slavery was not “a” cause of the Civil War, but it was the “only” cause.

South Asian American politicians like Ramaswamy and Haley are not going to bring about a change – neither for South Asian communities nor for the society at large but it is only through a sustained and shared struggle in the pursuit for equal rights for all people, can South Asian-Americans earn theirs.

Relying on electoral politics for a change can never bring about a real change. After all, electoral wins are fleeting, partisan victories. South Asian Americans must seek and win community-rooted and community-led victories to dismantle the very structures of our political and economic systems that outlast any one administration or politician.

Victories that create space for change, like the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the Women’s Suffrage Movement. When the United States won the American Revolution, they went from an abused colony of England to an independent nation. That is change. 

The Civil War determined the very nature of the nation that it wanted to become. That is change. 

The Women’s Suffrage Movement did not just earn women the right to vote but made them whole. That is change.

“Change,” says MLK, “does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability but comes through continuous struggle.”

In every election cycle, established and aspiring politicians call on people to stand with them. And many people do. It is a good thing, but not merely enough. The time between each election cycle determines the difference between wins and victories, between the makers of history and those made by it.

South Asian Americans have a choice to make. Either, to add a mere new chapter in the old history book of oppression or write a new story altogether. And that is a story we can claim: we have made it, rather than made by it.

(Syed is Executive Director of South Asian Network, Artesia, CA.)

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  • Muslims (this author who does not celebrate India’s Republic Day, please read his past posts) have joined far left that is currently dividing the societies of all major countries based on Oppressed (they) and Oppressors (others).

    South Asian Americans: Don’t be fooled by them. They will take you back to the same issues that you left your country for and came to the United States.

    January 16, 2024
  • That is all very well Syed saheb, but “South Asian community” is a joke. There is no such thing. IAMC, CAIR, USCIRF, and the liberal media on one side, and progressive, development-focused nationalists on the other. Only when EVERY Indian cares ONLY about India can we prevail.

    February 1, 2024

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