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Kavita Das

Freelance Writer

New York

Kavita Das

I worked in the social change sector for fifteen years on issues ranging from homelessness to public health disparities to most recently, racial justice. Now, I'm an award-winning writer focusing on culture, race, social change, feminism, and their intersections, featured in NBC News, The Atlantic, Quartz, Guernica, The Rumpus, The Aerogram, and other outlets.

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This Group Shares Oral Histories to Help Readers ‘Better Understand the World’

Just after graduate school, writer Mimi Lok worked on a project that validated her belief in the power of storytelling. A volunteer researcher and interviewer for an anthology called “Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives,” Lok collected the stories of refugees. “It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and was a chance, at last, to really ‘go deep’ with people’s stories in a way I couldn’t before,” Lok told NBC News.
NBC News Link to Story
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India has changed a lot in 70 years. But arranged marriage remains the norm.

When non-Indians ask me if I had an arranged marriage, I sometimes slyly reply: “in a sense.”. I’m an Indian American born and raised in the United States, married to someone who grew up in India. But it was our mutual friend, a white woman from Oregon — not our families — who played matchmaker. When I explain this to them, I know it is not the answer they expected.
The Washington Post Link to Story
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Immigration and Infertility: Talking with Shanthi Sekaran

A central conflict in Lucky Boy—the loss of parental rights by immigrants held in US detention centers—was at the heart of “Shattered Families,” a 2011 report I helped push out into the world when I worked at Race Forward, a racial justice organization.
The Rumpus Link to Story
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A Virulent Privilege

"What is especially telling about this data is the stark contrast between the race and class of unvaccinated and undervaccinated children. It underscores dual narratives: one of choice, one of circumstance. It also begs the question: would this movement have been allowed to grow, endangering the lives of all children, if it was largely populated by poor families of color rather than driven by middle-class white families? Would its members have been generously perceived as misguided but well-intentioned rather than misinformed and dangerous? Ultimately, these individuals working to undermine the protection offered by vaccinations to our nation’s children have been protected by their own race and class privilege—benefiting from another type of herd immunity."
Nat. Brut Link to Story
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Lion Shares Compelling Story Of Transnational Adoption

Lion has received several award nominations including Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor and Best Actress for Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. Kidman gives a tempered yet heart wrenching performance as Saroo’s adoptive mother, and Patel eschews the over-earnestness seen in some of his previous roles to give his most nuanced performance to date. But the most powerful performance in the movie comes from Sunny Pawar, the eight-year-old Indian child actor who plays young Saroo, navigating his way through a harrowing journey that takes him halfway around the globe.
The Aerogram Link to Story
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The Perils of Denialism on the Left

This strain of denialism might not as be as nihilistic as the one afflicting the far right, but it still constitutes a refusal to accept reality. Unlike the denialism of the right, which employs crutches like religion, the denialism of the left is characterized by a type of hyper-rationalism, which relies on selectively curated facts. And this strain of denialism helped lose Democrats this election and is the cause of liberals’ shock over this loss.
Los Angeles Review of Books Link to Story
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Anoushka Shankar and the New York Philharmonic Is a Debut 35 Years in the Making

Anoushka Shankar is not new to performing her father's compositions. But, because the piece includes several interludes of improvised sitar solo, there's opportunity to make it her own. "Having played it for a few years, in the beginning I really focused on improvising and 'what would my father have done' in order to try and be true to the piece," she said. "Now, I don't do 'what would my father have done' so much as feel confident that I know that, and ask how I can bring myself into it."
NBC News Link to Story
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Biography: Where White Lives Matter

OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, demographic changes have significantly altered our country’s population, and the election of our first Black president has signaled the beginnings of a major sociocultural shift. Yet biography, the genre responsible for chronicling the lives of significant and relevant individuals, remains staggeringly undiverse.
Los Angeles Review of Books Link to Story
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Kavita Das: Groove

Even as I felt intimidated and challenged by my orchestral peers, I simultaneously felt like I had found my place, my groove, in the universe. The permanent red scar that now embellished where my left jaw met my neck was no longer ridiculed as a hickie, but celebrated as a battled-honed scar. I felt at home amongst my fellow orchestra geeks and our shared awe for the music we got to play. When the maestro walked toward the center of the room to begin rehearsal, we would scurry to our seats, instruments in hand. When he raised his baton, the room filled with the vacuumed silence of one hundred held breaths. And then we played, each of us singing our respective parts through our instruments. Sometimes the violins played the melody, and sometimes we provided the countermelody, punctuated by the rhythm section. Inevitably, each piece, no matter how calm or raucous, ended in a moment of silence, and then the release of our collective breath once the maestro dropped his baton, and finally a feeling that we had just said everything that needed saying.
Guernica Link to Story
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'Good Girls Marry Doctors' Curates Stories On Family, Obedience, Rebellion

But just as important to Bhattacharya was that the anthology have a unifying theme while including many, diverse voices. "The whole point of creating this book was to weave it out of an assortment of voices," she said. "Writing this book based on only one person's experiences would have been more like a memoir, and less like taking a survey of an entire community of women whose opinions have never been sought out before." Bhattacharya added that she wanted to give many South Asian American women the opportunity to be heard and share their experiences. "That can only happen when a diverse array of women are all speaking their truths at the same time," she said.
NBC News Link to Story
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Writers Shouldn’t Romanticize Rejection

Last month, the Jamaican writer Marlon James won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his riveting novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings. A spate of articles came out documenting his win, noting the fact that the 44-year-old James was the first Jamaican to win the prize. One article by The Guardian however, focused on the fact that the manuscript of James’s first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was rejected close to 80 times before finally being published in 2005.
The Atlantic Link to Story
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Thanu Yakupitiyage Is Amplifying Sounds, Immigrant Voices

Whether she's marching in a rally for immigrants' rights or spinning tracks after hours as a DJ, Thanu Yakupitiyage is challenging geopolitical and sonic borders.
NBC News Link to Story

About

Kavita Das

A native New Yorker, Kavita Das worked in the social change sector for fifteen years on issues ranging from homelessness to public health disparities to most recently, racial justice and she now focuses on writing about culture, race, social change, feminism, and their intersections. She’s a contributor to NBC News Asian America, The Rumpus, and The Aerogram and her work has been published in The Atlantic, VIDA, McSweeney’s, Apogee Journal, Guernica, xoJane, The Margins, Quartz, The Feminist Wire, Colorlines, The Sun, and elsewhere. Kavita was nominated for a 2016 Pushcart Prize, named to the longlist of the 2016 Disquiet Literary Fiction contest, and named a finalist for the 2015 New Delta Review Ryan R. Gibbs Award for Flash Fiction. She’s also at work on a biography about Grammy-nominated Hindustani singer, Lakshmi Shankar, who played a pivotal role in bringing Indian music to the West, to be published by Harper Collins India. Connect with her @kavitamix

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Skills

  • Project Management
  • Marketing (MBA)
  • Strategic Communications
  • Writing