Indian origin actor and Vice President reflect on their India connection to erosion of American Dream
Two celebrities of Indian descent, actor Priyanka Chopra and Vice President Kamala Harris recently got together for a fireside chat and talked about their India connection and the erosion of the American dream with its promise of hope and freedom.
Chopra, who had been invited by the Democratic National Committeeâ€™s Womenâ€™s Leadership Forum on Friday at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC started off with their India connection and how as a recent immigrant she still totally believed in the American dream.
The two women talked about issues ranging from marriage equality to pay parity to reproductive rights to climate change and gun legislation and lamented that American values of hope, freedom, and choice are being endlessly assaulted right now.
â€œI was thinking about, okay, what do I and the VP have in common?â€ said Chopra. â€œYou know, weâ€™re women. And then I really wanted to start with something like that. And I think weâ€™re both daughters of India, in a way.â€
â€œYouâ€™re a proud American-born daughter of an Indian mom and a Jamaican father,â€ she said. â€œI am an Indian born of two physicians as parents and a recent immigrant to this country who totally still believes in the wholehearted, you know, American Dream.â€
â€œSo I just want to start at the fact that this country is regarded as a beacon of hope, freedom, and choice for the whole world, and these tenets are being endlessly assaulted right now.
â€œSo what has, I think, catalyzed this erosion when it comes to a few specific things â€” which I really wanted to ask you â€” is long battles of equal pay,â€ she wondered.
â€œLike I, for the first time in my career, have just â€” after 22 years of working â€” got equal pay as a male co-actor, this year,â€ Chopra said amid applause. â€œMarriage equality and, of course, the topic of the moment right now, reproductive rights.â€
Harris acknowledged â€œthereâ€™s no question we are living in an unsettled worldâ€ and â€œthings that we long took for granted are now up for debate and question,â€ she said citing â€œRussiaâ€™s unprovoked war in Ukraine.â€
â€œWe look in our own country,â€ Harris said. â€œWe thought, surely with the Voting Rights Act and all that it stood for â€” we assumed and thought the issue of voting rights in America was settled.â€
â€œAnd then after the 2020 election, when more people voted and more young people voted than ever before, states around our country started systematically and intentionally making it more difficult for people to vote.â€
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â€œWe thought a womanâ€™s right â€” a constitutional right â€” to make decisions about her own body was settled. No longer,â€ she noted.
â€œAnd so it does cause us, we who pay attention and feel and think about the principles that are at play â€” it does cause us to be upset, distressed, angry,â€ Harris said.
But the fight for civil rights, which is the fight for justice, the fight for equality, must be fought and won with each generation, she said paraphrasing Coretta Scott King.
â€œWe should retain a sense of optimism, because every time weâ€™ve made progress it has been because we had the ability and the courage to see what is possible and go for it,â€ Harris said.
Recalling her visit to the White House earlier that morning and her meeting with several Indian American staffers, Chopra said, â€œAnd I have to say, I saw the practice â€” President Bidenâ€™s promise of diversity and inclusion.â€
â€œThat representation brought me to tears this morning, from Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to Criminal Justice Advisor Chiraag Bains; Speechwriter Vinay Reddy; Sumona Guha, South Asian Security Advisor.
â€œYour administration has the most South Asian representation in history and is the most diverse,â€ she said amid applause. â€œItâ€™s intentional. Itâ€™s commendable.â€
â€œI lived in America when I was 12 years old, and I would have never imagined this,â€ Chopra said.