COUR TESY: AMI BERA’S OFFICE
Friends and family surround Ami Bera is he is sworn into office in January. There is, he says, always a sense of awe and honor in being able to serve the country.
To make a difference
tion, making sure that we raise our children and grandchildren with more opportunities than we had.
It’s exciting when I am speaking to that next generation.
You can see that excitement in their eyes, that ‘Hey, if he
can go to Congress, maybe I can.’
And, if in some ways, we can inspire the next generation
to run for office, we would have accomplished a lot.
At almost every Indian-American event you talk of how
you are buttonholed by reporters and asked how you won as
an Indian-American candidate, and if you found that a
major hurdle in your Congressional campaign and you
always respond by saying that you won because you were
What do you really mean by that?
What I mean by that is, I ran as an Indian American —
as a son of parents who immigrated here from India — and
it’s the values that our parents raised us with, the values of
a strong sense of family, the values of working hard, the values of making sure you’ve built a solid foundation of education, the values of sacrificing for the next generation to
make sure your children are better off than you.
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These are not just Indian-American values, those are historical American values as well that this country has always
So, when I talk about that, those are values that are
deeply ingrained in me — building for the future, building
for the next generation, giving people opportunity.
Why is it that you are very strong in expressing this sense
of pride and not at all apologetic?
I know of other elected Indian Americans — who will remain unnamed, some who ran for Congress — who were diffident about their ethnicity.
Of course, a part of this could be attributed to the handlers
who did not want to show up their candidates’ ethnicity.
You have no qualms about talking about being Indian American, even though your constituents are a mix of all races
and the mainstream.
Is it because ethnicity has evolved so much so that it’s no
longer a big deal?
I have to run on who I am, and I am not going to run away
from who I am, what my values are.
What makes this country strong is this fabric of different
ethnicities, different cultures, coming together in the melting pot that is the United States of America.
That’s historically what has always propelled us forward.
The Indian-American community is part of that fabric
and part of the strength of the United States of America.
We have a lot to offer — we’ve done well in health care,
we’ve done well in academia, we’ve done well in business
and technology and this benefits the United States of
Why would I run away from the tremendous value that
the Indian-American community brings to the broader
Is it because ethnicity today is no more a factor in some
ways that perhaps it was a few years ago?