What does it mean to be an immigrant in today’s America? As an immigrant, I know I have never looked over my shoulder as much as I have in the past year or so. In spite of immigrating to America a month before 9/11, I felt safe and welcomed. As a brown person in America, I felt secure. I had instances when someone told me how lucky I was to be in California because I would not be safe elsewhere. This conversation happened as I asked someone in a bus stop what that bird was. He answered “sea gull” and offered words of warning on being brown in America post 9/11. Did I fear for myself or my family- No, because I felt safe. This was a one off situation that I could care less for.
Fast forward to sixteen years later, a green card and sixteen years on the American soil- I never thought I would be looking over my shoulder as much as I do now. I never thought I would witness the current state of affairs here. With every terrorist attack or every gun massacre, I sit on the edge of my seat praying and hoping that person was not an immigrant. Why? because I am scared that would create a new law banishing immigrants, a new travel ban or a new immigration policy. In spite of being a green card holder, I feel less secure than I felt walking the streets with a visa stamp on my passport as an American Alien.
I was eighteen years old, an immigrant from India and a new American Alien. As soon as I stepped foot on the American soil, I was stamped as an alien. As an eighteen year old, I did not know why in an instant I was called an alien. Hollywood movies had added fodder to my idea of what an alien would look like, and I looked nothing like that. I did not realize how big of an moment that was. That Alien number allowed me to live in America, have my American adventures, and eventually become a resident of that place. What happens when an eighteen year old is forced to move continents? An Alien in America from America Deconstructed follows her journey on the American soil, her dreams and desires, her struggles and above all her journey to fulfilling her American Dream!
As an aspiring author, seeing my name on a book cover has always been a dream. I call it a dream because as a full time engineer, I never thought I would write a book, let alone have a book cover with my name on it. After years of people urging me to write a book, I finally decided to give it a shot. Writing the book has been a fascinating journey. I never thought I would enjoy interviewing people and converting those talks into stories as much as I did. Every story fascinated me. Every person poured their heart out to us which in turn became America Deconstructed.
In the past few months so much has happened to us. We began querying our book to agents and publishers since 2015. For almost two years we were stuck in a maze that included amazing feedback and no “real” contract. I say real because we had publishers who offered to publish our book if we paid them, agents who almost gave us a contract until they realized we queried one of their publishers – the list is almost endless. We have wondered if seeing our name on a book cover was even reasonable. Every person reaches a point when you have had enough. Early this year, Shaima, my coauthor and I decided to crowdfund our book through the Publishizer platform. Publishizer was a crowdfunding site for authors. They are the publishing market version of Tinder where they match authors with publishers. Through Publishizer, we did not get 250 pre-orders but ended up getting a traditional contract. In July, we signed our first publishing contract with Motivational Press.
We were yet to see our names on a book cover. That momentous occasion happened last week when we finally saw our book cover with our names on it. This journey is far from over. But every little milestone is celebrated because we realize every small victory is a celebration of immigrant power. Our book releases in Spring 2018 and we cannot wait.
To follow our journey, please follow us on our social media.