One of Vanita Gupta’s earliest memories involved what some might consider a hate crime.
Gupta was born in Philadelphia in the mid-1970s to immigrants from India. Before her fifth birthday, Gupta’s parents had temporarily plucked her and an older sister out of the City of Brotherly Love, so their father could take a job in the U.K.
They arrived in England shortly after the election of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who had exploited Britons’ fear of immigrants in her rise to power. England’s racist skinhead movement was surging.
“There were skinheads sitting next to us [at a McDonald’s] and sort of flicking french fries at me and my grandmother and my mom and sister,” Gupta recently said in a sit-down interview with Mic. “They were yelling at us, ‘Go home Pakis! Get out of this country!’” Gupta recalled. “Paki” is a slur against South Asians.
More than 35 years later, Gupta has embarked on a career as a civil rights lawyer in the United States, has overseen racial justice cases at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and has served as head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Her time at the DOJ ended after two years, with the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January. Trump’s rise to power has been accompanied by a spike in hatreddirected at immigrants and Muslims, including members of Gupta’s family in suburban Pennsylvania. Things have come full circle for Gupta, and now she’s in a position to be part of the resistance. Read more (6/9/17)