Women and Immigrants Rising in America. Can India Learn?

ap_18178174410938

A new social revolution is happening in the United States of America. It is exciting, and I hope you notice. I hope you participate. This is history in the making.
Minority and immigrant women are winning in mainstream elections. Yet, this is not news in India or countries that copycat USA. People in India, in particular, are totally uninformed about this new nonviolent revolution. Media never highlight them.
The people of power never allows them to discuss about women’s empowerment, and they use corporate media as a brainwashing machine. They never inform people about how middle-class, working-class women are fighting back in America — how they are rising at home, on the streets, at schools and colleges.
Big media never tell us especially in a country like India how these brave women are fighting elections from city councils to congress — against all odds. Why? Because it may be dangerous for the ruling class.
Of course, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh all have had women prime ministers, but these are three countries I know that have fallen way behind the rest of the world, when it comes to overall empowerment of women. The situation is pathetic, with the rape epidemic, acid throwing, bride burning and dowry deaths, and massive domestic violence — major and minor.
Yet, even Muslim countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Indonesia, Malaysia, or even Saddam Hussain’s Iraq, and Latin American countries like Uruguay, Columbia, Brazil have better social and economic situation for women. We are never told that in these countries, women have more economic freedom and equality than what we have in India.
We have  a strange misconception that only Muslims are responsible for the population explosion in India. Our social leaders have told us that Muslims have four wives, wearing hijab, and they have too many children. And we have always blamed Muslims, without any reality checks.
I have hundreds of Muslims friends. As a rights activist and labor educator, I have attached with hundreds of Muslims — both men and women — from Bangladesh to Bolivia, Iran to Indonesia, Pakistan to Peru. That “four wives, countless children” propaganda is bogus. I am sure some backward places, they still practice it, but so do orthodox Hindus, Christians and Jews. In many areas here in the U.S., ultraconservative Christians are against any scientific family planning.
But many of us fall for propaganda and rumor, and they are brainwashed by media talks and newspapers and social media. Over time, many people have completely lost their ability of thinking rationally.
America is changing at the grassroots level. On one hand, ordinary people are standing up against Trump, his white supremacist administration, and their corporate power.
On the other hand, a revolutionary change is happening in the world of women and immigrants. Black leader Stacey Abrams is a strong candidate for the governor of Maryland. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28 year-old young Latina, defeated big Democratic party congressman Joseph Crowley, here in New York City. She is a Democratic Socialist from Barney Sanders’ camp. I have worked with Pramila Jayapal, recently-elected Congresswoman from Washington state. A young Muslim woman Ilhan Omar defeated another Democratic Party big boss in the state of Minnesota. These are the bright faces of hope and modernism. They help us believe in a progressive, revolutionary change unfolding on the ground.
True, fascism, hate politics, gun violence and such extremism are overwhelming us. At the same time, bright young women and immigrants are rising up, assuming political power.
I keep my torch of optimism aflame.
Sincerely,
Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York
###