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SMS Faculty Member Sumita Chakravarty and MA Media Studies Student Guillermina Zabala Reflect on Kamala Harris and the Immigrant Story

Sumita S. Chakravarty & Guillermina Zabala reflect on Kamala Harris and the immigrant story

“For too long the immigrant story has been about loss, separation, and nostalgia or about arrival and assimilation. It has been about making good, or going under. More recently, under political leaders like Trump and others, it has been about invaders and criminals against whom new armies of patriots are ready to do battle. But the truth is as usual far more complicated and history does not necessarily foretell the future.”

-Sumita Chakravarty

“If there is one story the media has propagated widely is the story of Kamala’s mother, who has been a recurring theme in many of her speeches. According to an article in the Indian Express, on July 03, 2017, at a ceremony where 41 children and youth were being sworn in as U.S. citizens, she said, “Looking at this group, I can’t help but think of a young woman roughly the age of many of you. She was born in Chennai, in the south of India, where she had been a talented singer and a precocious student. And this young woman dreamed of becoming a scientist. She wanted to study at one of the top universities in the world, the University of California, Berkeley. She was only 19, but her father let her travel halfway around the world, with the agreement that when she finished school she would return home to a traditional Indian marriage.” Kamala continues with the story which has an unexpected ending. “But at Berkeley, this young woman met a young man, also an immigrant. A top economics student from Jamaica. And so, instead of an arranged marriage, she went against thousands of years of tradition and chose a love marriage. That woman was my mother, Shyamala Gopalan. It was a hard choice and a brave choice that she made, fuelled by love and optimism,” she said.”

– Guillermina Zabala

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