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How About Some Civil Discourse?

Avoid conversational landmines while staying strong in your beliefs

GROWING UP IN CALIFORNIA, I felt an immense pride in my parents’ immigration story. My family left India because of caste discrimination, an archaic system of societal division where your last name determines the height of your particular glass ceiling. They resettled in the United States, where my father started a successful business. I myself was encouraged by my parents and teachers to dream big, and make my own goals and markers of success. My background—being a brown, female, religious minority—never seemed to hold me back, even in the super-white, Republican stronghold of Orange County. All that mattered was my hard work and character.

Decades later, I watched in horror as Donald Trump spewed his xenophobic rhetoric on the national stage, betraying the very American ideals that enabled my life and achievements in this country. I told my manager at the tech company where I work that if Trump became the Republican nominee, I would take three months off to volunteer for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, spending a stint in North Carolina—a crucial swing state, and the first place I’d called home in America. I knew I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t try to stop the ascendance of a demagogue.

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