Courtesy NAM, India West, News Report, Ketaki Gokhale
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.-The local chapter of South Asians for Obama had its kickoff event for the 2008 presidential campaign last week at the Dolce Bar and Lounge here in the cityâ€™s North Beach district. A crowd of approximately 75 young professionals turned out for the event, contributing over $1,200 to Illinois Senator Barack Obamaâ€™s presidential campaign.
â€œMost of Obamaâ€™s fundraising has been done through small, $20 donations from young people,â€ SAFO-SF steering committee chair Anhoni Patel told India-West. â€œIt has really infused the campaign with a younger energy.â€
â€œIn the South Asian community, the response has been very strong. Weâ€™ve seen lots of excitement from a variety of people in their 20s and 30s, and many green card-holders.â€
Whatâ€™s piquing their interest, Patel said, is Obamaâ€™s multiculturalism. â€œHe wants to change what American looks like and he wants to bring respect to what it means to be American,â€ she told India-West. â€œAs a multinational, he knows about diversity and encompasses it. He grew up in Indonesia and has an African father. We are literally Indian American, and heâ€™s literally African American. Whether itâ€™s unconsciously or consciously, it speaks to people, and thatâ€™s a beautiful thing.â€
Anil Babbar, the Fremont, Calif.-based chair of the groupâ€™s communication committee, got involved in Obamaâ€™s campaign three months ago because he feels the freshman senator has â€œthe fresh perspective needed to effect change.â€
â€œThe South Asian community is still feeling its way about, trying to get to know the candidates,â€ Babbar said. â€œThe majority do support Democrats, and many will be drawn to Obamaâ€™s campaign.â€
Organizing committee chair Vikas Gupta compared Obamaâ€™s low-key approach favorably to his Democratic rival Hillary Clintonâ€™s. â€œHillary is too political for me,â€ Babbar said. â€œSheâ€™s really targeting the Indian American community, even going to the U.S. IIT alumni meet, but I think Obama will appeal more to the younger age group.â€
Tony West, a local attorney and the brother-in-law of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, and Chris Young, the Bay Area representative of the national campaign for Obama, made their appearances and spoke briefly in support of Obama.
SAFO was founded in Washington, D.C. with the goal of mobilizing the South Asian American community to help elect Senator Obama to the presidency. The San Francisco chapter is one of the organizationâ€™s first chapters.
To learn more about SAFO-SF and to find out about volunteer opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.