IAFPE and MIT-South Asia Initiative join hands to bring “Colors of the Commonwealth”

Kenneth Oye
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By Anu Chitrapu

CAMBRIDGE, MA–The recent hate crimes against minorities and immigrant communities have caused great concern amongst the members of the Massachusetts South Asian communities.

People are deeply disturbed by the murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla in Kansas. This was not an isolated incident and since this murder, there have been several more attacks on Indian Americans and Indians. Other incidents of harassment, threats and intimidation have been reported anecdotally and on social media. Many groups have decried these attacks as hate crimes.

In order to spread awareness about these crimes and to provide support to the affected parties, we need the backing of political leaders, legal authorities, public safety leaders, community leaders and the media. To garner this support and to come up with deliberate strategies and tactics to accomplish these goals, Indian American Forum for Political Education (IAFPE) and MIT-India and MIT-South Asia Initiative are collaborating to organize this event which includes opening remarks by Vivek Bald – Sikh American MIT Scholar, writer & documentary filmmaker, followed by a panel discussion.

The panel will discuss effective strategies and tactics to know and exercise your rights, reach out to law enforcement officials when needed and live a normal life without fear. Thought leaders and representatives from various cultural organizations will be present and will be given an opportunity to ask questions that concern their members.

V. Kasturi Rangan

The panel discussion will be moderated by Dr. V. Kasturi Rangan, Malcolm P. McNair Professor of Marketing and co-chairman of the Social Enterprise Initiative at Harvard Business School.

Our esteemed panelists include:

  • Commissioner William Evans – Boston Police Department
  • Genevieve Nadeau – Chief, Civil Rights Division, Office of Attorney General of Massachusetts
  • Kashif Syed – Community Outreach, Islamic Society of Boston (ISBCC)
  • Robert Trestan – Regional Director, New England Region Anti Defamation League
Kenneth Oye

Closing remarks will be delivered by Dr. Kenneth Oye – Japanese American MIT faculty and political scientist.

When: Saturday, May 6th, 2017 1:30 to 4:00 pm

Where: Wong Auditorium, MIT Room E51-115, 2 Amherst St. Cambridge, Mass.

The event is FREE but seating is limited.

Registration is required https://www.eventbrite.com/e/colors-of-the-commonwealth-building-alliances-to-combat-hate-tickets-33361323617?aff=eac2

Ramesh Advani, Chair IAFPE Board of Trustees said, “Our community has often been described as a “model minority”, but informally, many are fearful and abuzz with questions, regarding their personal rights, what to do or who to approach in the event of untoward incidents in their towns and homes.” Advani added that forum members and community leaders feel the need to reach out to other communities to learn from their experiences and form alliances to combat hate crimes. This discussion event is the first step in the process.

“Given the polarized response to current political events, IAFPE is encouraged at the incredible support we’ve received for our upcoming Colors of the Commonwealth event. We want to thank our working committee, coalition members, and MIT for their tireless efforts to provide a forum where we can express our thoughts around racism and building community solutions to fight hate crimes,” said Sonali Lappin, IAFPE President.

“MIT is eager to help facilitate dialogue and coalition building around issues affecting all of us; not just at MIT, but within the larger community,” said Mala Ghosh, Managing Director, MIT-India and MIT-South Asia Initiative. “It is critical that we  come together across political, religious , ethnic/racial, generations, and citizenship differences. We have witnessed the surge in hate crimes and we need to work together with area organizations to educate one another, protect one another, stand up for all communities, learn from history, and plan a course of action. Instead of reacting, It is necessary for all of us to be expand our networks and to work with other all communities. At MIT, we have immigrants, international, and American born South Asian students, staff, and faculty that are eager to collaborate. Our faculty guest speakers can both frame the history  of South Asian Americans and simultaneously provide examples of how we can learn from other ethnic and minority US communities. I feel honored to host the event on-campus and look forward to follow-up events as will be necessary for a call to action.”


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