Growing up as a New Yorker, I’ve seen very little political diversity. There have always been sentiments of voting Democrat and a large animosity against the Republican Party. In New York City, Republican voters make up a political minority.
I spoke with my millennial colleague Kishan Singh, a Guyanese American from the Bronx, who considers himself a Republican, about his experiences living as a political minority in New York:
“I’ve always held my grounds and kept true to my values. Ever since I was younger, I tried to be informed on what is going on and I have always tried to keep informed opinions rather than just agree with everyone else," said Singh.
"Being different from everyone else, I have often been discriminated against. Peers, classmates, and sometimes even teachers would approach me just for a political debate and prove me wrong.
"I did not understand: why not just accept that we have differences? Isn’t this a country where our political differences are accepted?"
Singh continued, "What’s worse is when people attack my character based on my political opinions. I was called a racist, an Islamophobe, and many more hateful things just because I subscribe to the Republican Party. I think all groups from political to ethnic, religious, cultural etc. have factions that are hateful towards other groups."
"But they do not speak for the overall group!" he emphasized. "Democrats have a history of bigotry and Republicans in our early years have advocated abolishing slavery! It hurts to face these attacks but I will stand true to my beliefs."
"I’ll tell you what I believe in: a free market, individual liberties, and government staying out of our affairs. Even though I am a political minority, I still try to respect everyone no matter what their political beliefs are. And I would appreciate similar respect in return.”
I sat and listened as he vented to me his frustrations.
Then I realized the significance Kishan plays in our future. He brings to the table not only political diversity, but ethnic diversity within the Republican Party. He demonstrates bravery and dignity for holding true to his beliefs and is an example to other people who find themselves at “odds” with the status quo.
In many ways, Kishan is the kind of youth that organizations like the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, PolicyMic etc. look for: an aspiring millennial who is not afraid to think outside the box.
He ended the conversation by telling me that he may be at voting odds in New York, but he feels a sense of satisfaction for having voted, contributed to the political movement of this nation, and in his words: “fulfilling my duty as an American citizen through voting for the kind of impact I want to generate here.” As Naomi Klein said, “Democracy is not just the right to vote, it is the right to live with dignity.”
Kishan is doing just that by standing his grounds. If you are a minority of any sort, do not feel afraid to embrace what makes you stand out.