How do I say good-bye to a site that gave me space to explore my identity with words, gave me the training grounds to build community virtually, and allowed me the opportunity to influence political and advocacy issues affecting the South Asian community? How do I say good-bye to a site that allowed me to build so many real friendships with so many of you? I never would have imagined that when my mother passed away so suddenly nine months ago, that a large percentage of people that reached out were people who found me through this blog and remembered stories I had written referencing her. I never really understood the power of words this community held until those dark moments.
These past few weeks I’ve been grappling with exactly what Sepia Mutiny has meant to me in the past six years I’ve written for the site and have been playing musical montages in my head of my favorite moments. Six years – longer than any job or relationship I’ve ever had. This site provided a much needed space to dialogue and develop the South Asian American identity and, in many ways, set the benchmark with how the community voiced ourselves. I always approached blogging on this site with three things in mind – 1) write about the Desi-American experience, the narrative I was yearning for, 2) a 1:1 ratio of pop to politics posts, and 3) find the marginalized Desis and give them space. And of course – the self pep talk before every remotely Muslim post - “Fuck all the trolling Islamophobic haters – as long as they’re commenting, there’s an important reason to keep blogging.” There was always that.
To commemorate – let’s list, shall we? So here we go. My top ten most influential moments here in the Sepia Mutiny bunkers…
1. Sepia Destiny: Oh, the trials and tribulations of being a single Desi girl with dating woes and having it all laid out in blogs. Remember the Dating While Desi rules? And wondering if Dating While Desi Bradley Effect of if Obama would increase the dating pool? These posts were our most commented on the site and clearly a very important issue to many of us. Though we always had high hopes of setting up a Sepia Destiny dating tab, it never came to fruition. Luckily, many of you didn’t wait for the tab to find SM love, myself included. Thank you, Sepia Mutiny for making dating life all that much more thrilling.
2. Gaza: Is Palestine a Desi issue? To me, the connection was immediate – but how to write about it? I hit the streets for the protests, interviewing every Desi person I saw and did it again at the rally in front of the Israel Embassy after the flotilla’s were attacked. In an American world where USINPAC and AIPAC are working in coordination to promote an Indian-Israeli alliance at the Capitol – I found it even more important to push this counter-narrative out there on SM’s pages. Especially after this Bollywood dancing missile promo video. Vijay Prashad’s Uncle Swami book coming out in June has a detailed analysis, but sadly my book review won’t be on these pages.
3. Ami Bera: He folded in to returning $250 of donations from CAIR-Sacramento Executive Director, thanks to pressure from his opponent Dan Lungren during the 2010 elections. My blog post sparked an interesting dialogue between readers, donors and the candidate himself - and even led to his having to return donations from people wanting their money back. Ami Bera is at it again, running in this fall’s election. But this time his race is highly supported by the Democratic Party big shots. Let’s just hope he doesn’t fold to Lungren again.
4. Edison, NJ: Joel Stein’s article caused a ruckus in our bunker – was it racist or was calling it racist too much? I tied it to The Last Airbender and called it racist – but others disagreed.
5. Bridget McCain: During the 2008 election John McCain’s Bangladeshi adoptee daughter hit the campaign trail, and I wrote a letter to her. The comments were fierce to say the least and generated a dialogue that I will never forget.
6. IndiCorps: This had to be one of the larger recent issues that totally split the Desi progressive community in two. You either sided w/ Vijay Prashad who “called out” Sonal Shah on aligning herself with the VHP or you sided with Indicorps family. I didn’t write about this, but Amardeep’s post, Ennis’ post, and Amardeep’s second post did cause a lot of ruckus both within the bunker and within the community. With ten year anniversary of the Gujarat riots around the corner, I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ve heard of it.
7. Queerness: One of the things I’ve completely enjoyed about writing on Sepia Mutiny the amount of coverage that was given to the queer community. There were the marches on Pioneer Blvd., Gay Pride in NYC, coming out stories, interviews with Prerna Lal and Sikh Knowledge, and the Nani supporting Proposition 8.
8. Bone Marrow Donation: The Mutiny has been featuring stories of bone marrow donors needed for the past few years – and has contributed to the significant increase to the South Asian donor pool. Most recently, Amit Gupta’s story and his viral social media campaign generated a 10/10 donor bone marrow donor match.
9: Hate-crimes: There have been so many hate crimes in the community over the years at Sepia Mutiny. Some were in post 9/11 hate and others were driven by islamophobic fear. There was the monument in Arizona that wanted to remove Balbir Singh Sodi off of the 9/11 monument, Kamal Uddin, Satender Singh, the Elk Grove murders, and the controversial fake hate-crime of Aisha Khan.
10: Voting: Of course, voting. What drew me to these pages of Sepia Mutiny was what drew me to start South Asian American Voting Youth – to empower the community to have a political voice. After ALL of my posts on voting, posts on Obama, and posts on south asian candidates – I hope that you all walk away a bit more empowered.
Thank you. Thank you to Abhi for inviting me to be a guest blogger way back in 2006 and for not kicking me out of the bunker. Thank you to all the dear bloggers who gchatted with me through ideas, who edited my posts at all hours of the night and who inspired me to keep writing. Thank you to the fabulous readers and commenters and lurkers who made this experience a constant learning and growing experience. Thank you to all of you who took the time to email me personally, talk to me at a meetup or voiced encouragement in person – each of you helped me onto this journey that I’m on today, and I’m a much better person for it.
As for where you can find me now… you’ll always be able to find me tweeting away @TazzyStar or on my personal blog at Say What?. You can find my tumblr site where I curate images of the South Asian American diaspora Mutinous MindState, and more infrequently at the Taqwacore Webzine. Finally, you can read one of my stories in Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women. As for the future, time will always tell. I’ll keep you posted.
Oh, and one more song. For old times sake.