What is SALAM?
In the subcontinent and the diaspora, we are in the throes of the rise of virulent ethno-nationalism and constant economic crises. Their impact is unequal within the diaspora: immigrant South Asians living and working in the US have especially been afflicted. This hostile immigration climate emphasizes the critical need for a powerful resistance.
When we speak of the “Left,” we mean that we are situating ourselves in the history of struggles led by the working class/progressive forces to build a just and equitable society. These are the fights against moneyed classes, these are the fights against the domination of caste and religious fundamentalism, and these are the fights against the patriarchal order. Our aspiration is to make possible a humane and dignified life for everyone irrespective of class, caste, gender, or religion. The starting point for our social and political work is the analysis that capitalism cannot be reformed. We need to overthrow it.
We identify as internationalists because we see capitalism as an international force, and therefore see our fight against it as one that unites workers from all around the world. We contribute to this lineage of struggles from the society that we know best: a South Asian one. The South Asian region has been fraught with a spectrum of political imaginaries—all bound in the regressive framing of the nation-state. We seek to push beyond that. This is therefore our point of departure: to put our shoulder to the wheels of empowering immigrant-led organizations here, and supporting the formation of a leftist South Asian movement.
What We Do
Our focus is on South Asia and its diaspora - to help build power in these communities. SALAM hopes to provide a medium for young South Asians to be political, especially young people becoming politicized now.
We see the need to build a larger South Asian coalition of organizations, and, together, co-articulate a leftist South Asian politics that engages with ongoing movements in the region. Emphasizing the fact that these situations are far from isolated, we hope to situate the specific South Asian issues in a global context, and partner with international solidarity organizations.
To this end, we host "Rice and Resistance," a series of casual dinner events featuring discussions on issues facing the South Asian left today. We also run biweekly reading circles in parallel with our ongoing campaigns, both in person and online. These discussions have covered topics ranging from the history of South Asian diasporic organizing to the struggles of upcountry Tamil plantation workers in Sri Lanka.
We also find ways to use our skills to support progressive organizations in their campaigns, through research, organizational development support and communications work. A host of progressive organizations work to support South Asians in the US diaspora. Many of them struggle with funding, are stretched at capacity, and often on the lookout for pro bono work. This is a small step towards consolidating the activist movements of the South Asian Left: to unify struggles that feel scattered.
We worked with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance’s co-founder Mamnun Ul Haq's campaign for New York City Council to put together their policy briefs. We are part of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)’s national coalition of progressive South Asian organizations in the United States. With SAALT, we are currently working to create documentation and resources to support legal, advocacy, and service-oriented efforts at providing support for South Asian asylum seekers and immigrants without documents in the United States.