Print: As The Results Come In, Stakes Are High For New York’s South Asians
Originally published at Election 2016: Views From Abroad. Additional reporting by Marie Van Hafften.
On the narrow mezzanine of a dark bar near Times Square, New York members of the group ‘South Asians for Hillary’ have their eyes fixed on a screen showing live election results. There are raucous cheers and applause every time a state announces for Hillary.
Radhe Patel, the New York State organizer for ‘South Asians for Hillary’ describes how difficult the campaign has been for her. “It was very dark,” she says, “I was completely denied my humanity in the last 12 months.”
Patel is a practising Hindu and travels to Queens every weekend to go to temple. But when a woman wearing Islamic dress was set on fire on Fifth Avenue in September, Patel started feeling unsafe wearing her own traditional dress in public. “I can’t even wear what I want in the country I was born in.”
As votes are announced for Trump through the mid-West, the volume in the room drops to a depressed murmur.
“It’s closer than I expected,” says Bhinish Shah at 10pm,“I thought we’d be going home by now.” He moved to the US from India as a young child, and is now an organizer with the group South Asians for Hillary in New York.
Shah describes the enthusiasm he’s seen among volunteers for Clinton’s campaign over the last few months. When his group sent people to knock on doors in Pennsylvania, he says, the buses were completely full: “They had to turn people away.” But once they got out there, he says, it was hard to change people’s minds.
Suddenly, at 11.08 p.m., Hillary pulls ahead. Cheers fill the room.
Jenifer Rajkumar, a civil rights lawyer and Democratic District Leader is optimistic. “I am confident Hillary will pull through,” she says. She’s met Hillary, and says she’s “tenacious and resilient.”
Rajkumar was born and raised in the United States, but her parents immigrated from India in the 1970s, with only $300 and a suitcase. She’s wearing all white tonight, like the suffragists and like Hillary.
Meanwhile, Patel is already looking to the future. “We already have meetings planned for after the election,” she says. “None of us want to be deported.”