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Unity in Community Day held in Saratoga

January 31
21:18 2017
L to R - Assemblymember Kansen Chu, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, Saratoga councilmember Howard Miller, San Jose Councilmember Chappie Jones, Modesto Councilmember Mani Grewal, Moderator Rishi Kumar at the 2nd annual Unity in Community Day in Saratoga.

L to R – Assemblymember Kansen Chu, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, Saratoga councilmember Howard Miller, San Jose Councilmember Chappie Jones, Modesto Councilmember Mani Grewal, Moderator Rishi Kumar at the 2nd annual Unity in Community Day in Saratoga.

SARATOGA, CA: The 2nd annual Unity in Community Day was held on Martin Luther King weekend at the Joan Pisani Community Center in Saratoga. This year’s theme was “Dealing with Racism, Bigotry and unabashed Racism in America”. Several elected leaders and distinguished panel members discussed the importance of a unified nation and the immediate need to stand up against hate and bigotry.

Keynote Speaker, Senator Beal urged everyone to take a moment to self reflect and think about their value system and moral beliefs. Calling for action, he demanded social justice for everyone. He said that discrimination, sexism, religious bias goes against the fundamental values of the nation’s constitution.

Saratoga Councilmember and organizer of the event, Rishi Kumar supported the positive message for love and peace quoting MLK Jr. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Terming love as the most powerful weapon for a positive change, Assembly member Ash Kalra emphasized that change needs to begin at home and extend to the neighborhood and workplace.

Talking about historical events Saratoga Councilmember Howard Miller assured that America has overcome discrimination and injustice in the past and believes that the country has the best political system in the world to overcome any hardship.

He proposed that unity can be achieved by helping one citizen, one family or one specific group. Being well-informed gives members of the society the ability to make one’s voice heard and bridge gaps between vastly different opinions.

Councilmember Chappie Jones pointed out that all of us hold certain prejudices. Being aware of them and consciously getting out of the comfort zone to reach out to someone with a vastly different background can help bring about the positive change from within. A catalyst for a shift in perception during difficult times can be achieved by showing compassion toward others and by staying informed, said Vice Mayor Mani Grewal. All of us have a role to play to restore sanity during this critical juncture.

With surging hate crime Assembly member Kansen Chu is currently working toward passing a bill to standardize the method of reporting and documenting hate crime in California.

Continuing this important discussion were speakers from various schools across the Bay Area. Taking the first place in the speech competition, Divya Balaji chose love over hate, forgiveness over revenge and unity over division. Samaira Mehta and Adit Chamach took the 2nd and 3rd place respectively, orated their respective views toward eliminating negativity in society and building united neighborhoods filled with love and compassion.

Judges to the speech competition included Councilmember Howard Miller, Trustee Sophia Kao, Trustee Sharan Kaur, Trustee Cynthia Miller, Rita Cao, Parmeet Chaddha, Trami Nguyen, Deepa Sharma and Sameena Usman (CAIR). Commenting upon how impressed he was with the contestants, Trustee Sharan Kaur exclaimed, “It was very interesting to hear young kids express [their] ideas on a topic that is very weighty… so thank you for having the courage to express your ideas on stage… it was quite insightful.”

It was a good day for an exchange of ideas on unity. Divya Balaji rightly summed up her experience, “This was an unbelievable opportunity for me not only to showcase my oratory skills in front of highly qualified panel of judges, but more importantly to hear about our role in unity in community from many of the elected leaders in the Bay area, all in one place.”

Ritika Kuppam

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