Ram Villivalam's Statement on the World Hindu Congress 2018
My name is Ram Villivalam and I am the Democratic Nominee for State Senator in the 8th District of Illinois. In January of 2019, I will be sworn in as the first South Asian American Member of the Illinois General Assembly.
I have and will take the responsibilities of the position of Illinois State Senator very seriously.
I ran to and I will represent every community in my district. I also feel a distinct obligation to represent the South Asian American community across the state of Illinois given our lack of prior representation.
In addition, I ran to be a proactive elected official; someone who strongly believes in and fights for human rights, women's rights, and freedom of religious and cultural practices.
I believe part of that is speaking out against violations of these rights and freedoms..
This weekend, the second annual World Hindu Congress (WHC) is taking place in the Chicagoland area. As a native Chicagoan and a Hindu American, I initially looked forward to such a convening, especially given my new role and the stated purpose of WHC 2018 being a global platform for Hindus to connect, share ideas, inspire one another, and impact the common good.
I know that there are good people with good intentions who are participating in this event. However, there are also nationalist individuals and organizations affiliated with WHC 2018. Therefore, I cannot participate in this convening and I cannot stand by silently while it takes place.
I was raised by Indian parents. I am a practicing Hindu. I express my devotion at Temple. I am involved in the Telugu community in the Chicagoland area. I am committed to passing my Indian culture, Hindu religion, and family traditions on to my children. The values my parents instilled in me include but are not limited to treating everyone equally regardless of race and/or gender as well as respecting and tolerating their personal life preferences, including religion and culture.
Let me be clear: I do not support any group and/or an event arranged or led by organizations that intimidate minorities, incite discrimination and violence, commit acts of terror based on race or ethnic background, promote hate speech, and/or believe in faith based nationalism.
As a Hindu American, I stand with my brothers and sisters in the Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Sikh, and other religious and ethnic minority communities against hate, discrimination, and persecution.
I have fought for human rights my entire life as a son, husband, organizer, government employee, and advocate. Everyone has the right to their opinion. However, intolerance must be called out for what it is and condemned, which is why I feel compelled to speak out with regards to this event taking place near my city and in my state.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me to discuss this further and please take the time to learn more about why it is important to speak out against intolerance: https://medium.com/@stophindutva/alliance-for-justice-and-accountability-calls-for-boycott-of-the-world-hindu-congress-in-chicago-9ecd1333aeb4.