At Pete's Coffee in Menlo Park, a homeless man greeted me with a polite Namaste. I returned the favor with an awkward hello, reflecting on the irony of this exchange. I am instantly identifiable as an Indian, but I have many descriptions. I am American, Asian, South Asian and Indian, hyphenated, spaced, conjoined and collated.
The Census puts Asian population growth in the last decade at 31%. The Indian community is acquiring heft and hoist as evidenced by grocery shelf space: Quick Meal pouches of Punjab Chole and Madras Lentils reside between bottles of Marinara and Black bean sauce at Trader Joe's and Maya Kaimal's simmer sauce rests near Mexican staples at Whole Foods Market. In Cupertino where Asians exceed 60% of the population, a teenage Monta Vista student concedes that she has many Indian friends, adding, "But we are all Americans."
In a speech last year, Attorney General Kamala Harris acknowledged her heritage by saying that she grew up with a strong sense of culture and values transplanted from Madras (Chennai).
The Indian-American narrative showcases integration, peaceful politics, productivity, performance, entrepreneurship and an immigrant work ethic.
Redistricting is necessary for effective voting opportunities and to get better accountability from our legislators. Splicing up any community would deprive it of a cohesive construct. It is important to preserve the Indian-American voice. We need our politicians to hear our story.