Sheela is so darn smart, quick, and well-spoken. And I learned more about politics in this hour-long interview than I have since I was 18... Born to Indian medical professionals, Sheela grew up here in the States but has since traveled, researched, and work in India and other places in the South Asia region. Now she works for Progress Missouri in Jeff City and Main Squeeze on most weekends. And I can't really guess what Sheela will be doing in 2 or 10 years but I'm betting it will be exciting and challenging for her and beneficial for others. Thanks for the interview Sheela! Dream Pizza: any Veggie-type pizza with light cheese.
Recorded on 2016-02-21
Speakers: Joseph Weidinger and Sheela Lal
All right. How do you pronounce your last name? Long, Long? Yeah. Crimes of law. And then there's, like a counter in the shield law brain thatjust like went from, like, four million two hundred thirty three thousand, Like plus one. Um, okay, so she little all You lived on the same floor as me. Freshman year at the honors Lenny Committee at Sures, right? Yes. Fifth floor, more. I was fourth floor, but you were I live with Sarah.
Yes. Oh, I saw you. Yeah, that's right. I remember that now, but that was like he was like, Yeah. Yeah, um, But we were that close then, and I still don't know much about you. But I could always tell that you were extremely passionate, hardworking and ambitious. You're always very involved in highly evil. A student Fulbright scholarship scholar. Sorry. And ah, now researcher and a juice maker just to name a few.
Uh, anyways, you seem like you have a lot to say. That is to say, if someone put a microphone in front of you, get one hundred percent Sheila. Yeah, and so that's what we're doing today. Welcome to you with Shakespeare's downtown here on Sunday, February twenty first. The first question is if your ruler of the world, what would you do on your first day? So of the world and how much I feel like they're a lot of questions I need to be asked before I can answer that.
Like, how did I become the ruler? I really like this weird post apocalyptic situation where everybody died Did the entire lake did the U. S government just fail? And I just have happened in the right place at the right time? I can't really. It's not that knowing the contacts. Uh, well, that that's you answered the question with a question. You wind it up. Ah, no. Let's just say, Ah, let's just say society all of a sudden took a vote in are they were unhappy with the current leadership, such as President.
And then there were enough ride ins for Sheila Law and you re elected president. Honestly, the first thing I would do is get rid of really horrible gerrymandering laws. And I wouldn't because Jerry Mannering is kind of the fundamental reason why a lot of our politics have become so extreme. And when you described with it is, Yeah, absolutely so. Jerry Mandarin is the process by which a state will read District, the Constituent District's for House, the State House and Senate and also thie congressional.
So federal level Senate seats in House seats on the way that it's done is it's based on the state demographics and how you can get that in different parts of the state, like how you carve it out of the way they have been. Carving it out now isn't logical, and it's definitely so you can get play God a swing so you don't have a swing district. It's like either concerned it's either conservative or liberal.
And so you can place like a weak candidate in the normally moderate district, and they will become, by Eric a shoo in. So, for instance, in Colombia, the way that they redistricted for the congressional level for our house seat was so it was Boone County and I came in the next county. But it's a primarily rural county, and that's how Vicky Hartzler got elected in is because the only remotely liberal area was Columbia.
So you have this woman who doesn't speak on behalf of proportionally population wise, a majority of the seats right there, a majority of the district. But because she was voted in with that, we're all edition. And how did this? Whatever it's called gerrymandered Jerry mentoring, Yeah, evolved. It's always been around because come into existence. Yeah, it's always been around with, like, the Constitution.
It's what for every ten thousand people you need a district for the house. And so it just became more and more nefarious as politicians are like House parties were not house. Very sorry. State parties realised that if you are able to twist this enough, you can have solid seats for your party in the in representation. So one of the So there was a Supreme Court case last year. It was state of Arizona versus somebody and the rule.
The important thing is that the ruling allowed third party nonpartisan commissions to do these jerry to create these district's. So it's more fair. So that's something that I would do if I were the ruler. And on my first day, I wouldn't insure that Jerry Manning was more fair and less biased because I mean, like, that's the thing. You go to Missouri House now, and it's So it's so extreme because people who have been elected in are extreme, and they've been elected in because of the way that Fair district's a reformed their extreme in what way?
For instance, a lot of them want to dismantle unions, which I think is a really they want to dismantle unions. Yes, unions tend to back Democrats, but when you have like forty Democrats in the House, it's clearly not working in their favor. And Indians also concern constantly eight percent of the labor force. The important thing about unions is it allows workers and enables workers to negotiate for higher wages and allows them to negotiate for benefits and professional development.
When you have representatives who are actively trying to dismantle them without really reasons and without being without the pushback, either. So you have again forty Democrats in the House for, like, one hundred. I think it was like, yeah, one hundred Republicans in the house. So what do you like? What can you do about that? Like you have these Republican backdoor like extreme policies back by one hundred people.
You're going to get pushed back. You're not going to get real debate. Real conversations about policy. You're just going to push their own agenda, right? Sending with photo voter I d which would enable. I guess it would actually essentially disenfranchise those large spots for population like in Missouri, would disenfranchise over two hundred thousand people from voting because you have to have a government issued photo ID to vote under these laws.
So they've been introducing these past ten years. Finally, this year because that was ruled unconstitutional spice by the Missouri Supreme Court, they added a House joint resolution which cannot be vetoed by the governor and essentially is a ballot initiative and goes to a vote of the people. Which is ironic, like Yu. Want people who don't have T vote on photo tto be added to the Constitution to make the House bill legal the House bill for photo idea.
It's really convoluted. It's It's like a policy wonky thing. But essentially you're pushing these rather extreme pieces of legislation which had been deep and shown to have like negative impacts on large parts of population in, like an Alabama, for instance, when they passed photo ID, and then in areas that a majority black, there are no offices that are open study. These things, Dickie and Thomas makes a guest appearance.
If you get a plate in a piece of pizza, a couple pieces so anyway, that's what makes it extreme. And that's Sam's again from gerrymandering. Which is why my first day as world dictator I get rid of it right would enable I would not get rid of it, but I would hope that it would be more, Ah, biased right in your whole thing is, and these air just kind of laws which normal people aren't aware of. And they just kind of like the lubrication of the government or the gears of the government mother.
But these have huge ramifications on how how people pushed their power an agenda and lived. And then how citizens live their lives. Yeah, Ultimately, yes, that's that's that's like the best ends with the first question for the longest. You know, the long question. It's also because there's so many reasons why, Jerry Man Rain is it's good. It makes sense. Like if you have it proportional to the demographics of the state, it makes sense.
Bye. You like, in the state of Missouri, you could see how it's easily been, like, polarized. Right now. That's great. Okay, So if you're at a party in your ass, what do you do? What do you say, I say working state policy, which is pretty obvious for my first question. I first point, Yeah ofyou have the research director at Progress, Missouri, which means I track legislation. I go to committee hearings. I act as I enabled, like watchdog journalism.
So I go and live stream committee hearings and, you know, like my rest, my team will watch it and live tweet. But I'm there following what's happening and understanding the process by which, like progressive policy is made. That's what I do. It's ah, it seems I can't really explain it. I know it's He comes off kind of dull when I explain it, but it's Ah, I like my job by have tangible outcomes. So and I like being able to inform people who don't necessarily work Jeff City or pay attention to Jeff City politics.
I like being able to inform them about what's going on. So so you're Aah! You enable watchdog journalism, you said, Yeah, among maybe that means a lot of things, but is what you do essentially his add more transparency in government. Yes, I do. Government transparency work right through a nonprofit that is a progressive, progressively liberal. So let people, when they hear that I work progresses very assume that I'm going to be like, I mean, I am politically radical, but I don't project that in my day to day work, but they assume that I'm going to be like that or that I'm going to be like this Columbia hipster put like, I don't know what they think of me, and then they meet me.
I'm like, Oh, you seem like informed and well put together and understanding why or how Jeff City works like, Yeah, that's the point of the job, right? That's for me to implicate my personal agenda. It's for me, Teo. Uh, create access in kind of level. The playing field for everyone else in terms of access to the government in terms of So, do you ever think of yourself as a journalist to? Absolutely not.
No, I don't write. I don't do anything like that. I I can provide information. A journalist like I work closely with a mean not closely. But I do work in tandem with some journalist in helping them find information or clarifying points again process. So, yeah, I'm not a journalist. I would never say that, you know? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, Well, we'll get more into, uh, sort of political things, and And but I wantto also talk about you as a person or your early life particular.
Ah. So what's your earliest memory? So, unfortunately, I can't answer that question. I had a viral meningitis when I was fifteen, and a lot of my memories have been where, right? Yeah. So a lot of my memories are either falsely informed by home videos or by stories. But I don't feel like I have any organic memories because of the meningitis. So I would say the first thing that pops to mind is maybe second grade.
I have a very strong memory of when my eyesight was going. Like I, uh I was five twenty, twenty. Then I gradually, like, drastically, lost a lot of my vision. And the spring semester of my second grade here. I remember being super close up to the blackboard because I couldn't see s. So that's like a pretty strong memory I have of that time. But I can't remember anything before that. Well, wow, that's that's a really so eyesight.
And then the viral meningitis. Yeah. So you have some pretty powerful contacts and or you had surgery known eye contact. I was expecting you. Get these glasses that look like Oh, no. I have thick glasses. Like I'm like, negative six point five. I don't know what that means. It's pretty much like it if it's not great. Live like I wake up in the morning. I put on my glasses immediately. Yeah. So what about your family?
Do you have a lots of siblings? I have a younger brother. That's it. Are your parents still together? And they're from Colombia. My mom is Well, my mom is from a leader in north India. So it's, like about an hour away for tomography. But she moved to Pennsylvania when she was nine. So she was raised in Pennsylvania and then moved to Columbia for my dad. My dad was raised in South India on Heather, about which is a big tech city now, which is how long people know it.
Hey, was raised there. He was right. He was born like, Okay, so Indians, livers, liberalization. Economic liberalization didn't happen till ninety three. So in the seventies and eighties, there were huge. There's a huge dearth of job opportunities, and my father is a position so he didn't want to he didn't want to leave his family, but he had to in order to find a job like there were no medical jobs like in India.
Like he was offered a job in. But now and in Kolkata, which are both economically depressed area, it seems like, Yeah, I'm not going to move there. So he ended up moving to the U. K. For a couple of years and then moved to Columbia in eighty five? I think so. My parents met through mutual friends and they got married. But my mom moved here. They thought they were going to move back to Pennsylvania. To Pittsburgh.
Never happened. So we've been here since eighty nine. Wow. Yeah. Basically your entire life? Yeah. My entire life I've been here, but they're not from here originally. Right? Okay. And so they're from India. Is, um, any of the Indian languages, either local or national? Yeah, I dont spoken in your household. No, because my mom was raised in Pennsylvania. So we have to remember that in terms of immigrant assimilation, the way that my both my full that way that my grandparents came over was through a brain drain policy and what's that mean in the so in terms of like immigration history?
Ah, the US became very isolated and thirties and forties after this mass wave of immigrants from Ellis Island like that came through Ellis Island from Western Europe in Southern Europe. And it wasn't till the fifties that they decided we're going to open up immigration, but only two people with, like the highest degree in their field, and people essentially, they want to bring smart people over. But what does that mean?
In terms of the immigrants to come over? It's people who who in their home countries are in whatever social context are seen as like the highest castor class and cast is not just a Hindu thing. I feel like I need to be absolutely clarify that it's the social, the social idea. Yeah, absolutely. And so in the U. S. Like if you read the new Jim Crow like the idea of racial caste is a big thing in the U. S. We don't talk about it.
But it exists. So in terms of where my my family came from, to have access to education, you have to have been from a higher caste or class, right? You come over to the U. S. A lot of like a lot of families of, regardless being Indian or knew him. Really. If you come from a brain drain background, you are higher leer at a higher level. So when you come here, you want to aspire to being an upper caste in America.
And what does that mean? You aspire to whiteness? He was fired to losing your own cultural background, right. So my mom's family didn't really speak Hindi at home on. And my dad, I mean, he speaks Hindi and fellatio, but he when I was growing up, they didn't speak in Hindi to me because I was raised in Missouri, and my mom was like, What is she going to use those for? Like we don't speak this at home like my mom Wasn't, uh, fluent in Hindi by the time I was born.
That being said, it has changed drastically in our house since two thousand. Two thousand ten. Sorry, I did a study abroad and how they're rather and around that time my parents send to get dish and get get the Hindi channels like this has been really useful about it before I left, but we've had it since, and my mom's Hindi has come back. My dad really enjoys it, but I feel like you mean how we connect to not just like the art part of our culture, but like the political side and economic side and being more engaged in what that means for us, as Americans as well, has been really amplified by having access to these television networks in the fact that I lived in how they're brought and then a couple years later, lived in Sri Lanka and then the year after that.
After that, I lived in Calcutta, live by my like international A living situations. My parents have learned more about what India means now, as opposed to what was like when they left. So it's a kind of a little gift that you gave your parents is just kind of re acquainting. You know, if it's a gift as much as this is happening, I hope we're all okay with you mean where they where they ever opposed the like.
Okay. No, no, no. Then when I did my study abroad, they like it's really structured that mine. And then when I moved Teo Columbia. It was on a Fulbright and like my parents weren't worried. But then, like that's because none of us really understood the political context of Columbo. And, like people think like, Oh, Sean was just an extension of India. No, it is a completely different place, completely different history, completely different cultural norms.
And it's really difficult to expect that when there's no media coverage on it, nobody really talks about it. So I mean, one of big one of the major issues is violence against women, like women are not seen as autonomous people. Still to this day? Yeah, yeah, and it's like been perpetuated by the thirty year along civil war, where in war women are, I guess, simplified down, too, just like vessels of culture and like vessels of people essentially like they're not their own.
They're not their own individual vessels of people Was Papa babies to help soothe. So, like, yeah, there's issues of that. There was also issues of me, and I don't now because there was a new election recently, and I don't know if the culture has changed yet, but when I was there, there was also an issue of political Think of the word impunity. There we go, where, if you are related or somehow connected to the government, you have immunity from the law.
And, like all of this, came together within our first six weeks where my roommate was, like, stalked and threatened with sexual, sexual assault and, like, like, threatened outside of our home by a minister, son. And I don't know, like, I had no contact since I didn't know how to really mean I dealt with it, but I could not be prepared for it in the way that I'm prepared for, like, sexual assault, assault or harassment in India or in the U.
S. Like these air cultures that it means to you. So when this happened, like, I think I was, like, the most responsible one in our house where I was the one who's like, Okay, I like my roommate who being assaulted like you do not need to deal with this. You need Teo like, stay at our friend's houses. I will try to manage this, and because I blend in and like, nobody thinks about me and the other because I look like, I'm sure right there like I look like I'm single ease, and so I was able to do It will be more effective in that role of like being in the background and managing.
What was she also a Fulbright scholar? So where was she from? Oh, she's from the Bay Area. But what school in D. C. Okay, yeah, so And she's white. But she's lived in India before, so she wasn't new to the idea of South Asian masculinity issues. Just everybody was new to the idea of political impunity in Sri Lanka. So my parents lied? Yes. When I moved to Calcutta, they're like, Good You like It happened. So, I mean, I had come home for a couple of months, but my my parents were much more familiar with Calcutta.
They were more familiar with India, like they knew that I knew howto handle myself, and I'd be okay on. I was like, it was super easy. India was super easy compared to Sri Lanka, right? Yeah. And that was just unexpected. Yeah, was completely unexpected. Threw us off guard. So if we know, like this is an example that I use when I meet incoming full writers to Sri Lanka. If I meet them through, like, the Internet or whatever I'm like, here's an example of how this place is not what you think it's going to be.
And on I hope it changes like the election was in two thousand fifteen. Yeah, fifteen. It was note. Yeah, it was in fifteen. Sorry. And the political regime that had been in power for, like, eight years was kicked out and wise for long in the first place. Yeah, you the proposal that you wrote for Fulbright. Get the rifle. Yeah. Why did you choose strong? So I was looking at film culture. Yeah, That taking you here, can you hear?
Just fine. No, Absolutely. I just want to make sure you couldn't. You can stay here. Oh. Oh, oh, uh uh, No, no, no. I'm glad you're here. I just wanted to invite you closer. Yeah. I start. I never had an audience before. This is cool. No, no, you're good. I'm really Yeah, I know the reason I chose you because I was looking at film culture and look, I applied for a research pull, right? So I was looking at a specific project and I knew I wanted to look at South Asian film.
But I couldn't go to Pakistan because it's only for like higher levels. Scholars like people who've done higher level degrees and also as an Indian, it's nearly impossible. Like ethnic Indian, it's nearly impossible for me to get a visa. I didn't want to go back to India at that point. I just in my study abroad a couple months before I start working on this full right and then I did not want to go to Bangladesh because I didn't want to deal with the population.
Density and talk is just like a mess and I didn't want to. I didn't want to go there and I didn't think about Nepal as much. But Sri Lanka I had been to during my study abroad. We've gone down for a week and I really liked it and I realized I didn't know much about their film industry as opposed to knowing a lot about the multiple in film industry's in India. It's becoming familiar with Bok study and Bangladeshi films as well.
It was like, Wow, there's nothing in Sri Lanka So I wrote a film composer, wrote a proposal, looking at national identity in the development of it through film. But when I got to the country was like Okay, we have to completely change this because it's not gonna work logistically. So instead, I looked at it Hi statistically quantified gender based violence in film and looked at how it represented and in what form and the prevalence of it.
And then this all happened like I was starting to change us as like this stuff is happening to my roommate, and so it hit home literally home even harder. So I did that. And then at about the halfway mark, I would like emotionally mentally exhausted, like, definitely drained by having to talk about assault all the time. So then I just wrote a film with a friend of mine who's Sri Lanka and like we wrote that we did the screenplay together.
We did the pre production, the casting, and he finished it like when I went back and two Aprils ago. Is April twenty fifteen. Fourteen, Crap twenty fourteen. He should be in the editing and the like. I was introducing into a lot of filmmakers that I met through my research, and so he's was using their equipment and kind of their their resource is, and I was like a beautiful film. He submitted it to a European film festivals.
He sent me a cut of it. It I'm really proud of that venture. That's what I did during my Fulbright. And last I chose. I chose SriLanka because I don't want to go anywhere else. And also the things like Candy wrote it down. Our process of elimination. Basically, why film in the first place? Have you always been in South Asian? Film has always been a thing for you or the affinity of it. Yeah, absolutely. So again, like when I talk about immigration, something that I, I didn't realize was such a privilege like family privilege until I started meeting other Indian Americans.
My age was my grand parents live here. My grandparents do not live in. And, well, my mom's parents don't live in India. So I was raised with Hindi movies from the fifties and sixties, and my mom would continue to raise my brother and I with newer Hindi movies. And so I'd always been exposed to that. I was exposed to the legacies of exposed to the history of progress of or, you know, systematic changes in Hindi film.
And so when I was at Mizzou, I did. I did radios. That case, will you and Mei Mei Speciality Show was doing South Asian music, and to make it differently, it was that was crafting it. For my first proposal, I realized await their movies outside of the Hindi film industry. I'm sure they have, ah, Music Industries to so I started becoming. I started. Ah, utilizing like South Indian films and their music and learning more about like Bengali Amarante films through their music for my radio show and start watching more diverse types of films in India on DH.
That's what led me to learn. One to learn about SriLankan film Turns out. When the first SriLankan film came out in Single of which is the majority language, a critic said it looks like India just got its own. It's like tenth film industry because it was it was that exact coffee of Asian people, so yeah, I've always had an affinity for it. I definitely still watch a lot of Hindi movies. I tried tio watch some other types of films, but reading subtitles gets really tiring.
So I haven't kept up with, like, some other fella go movies. But I do mean that being said, I do watch Malayalam movies, which is a for language in southwest India. Wait, So what languages do you speak in? Our what? Fluency. Yeah, eso my single of when I was in Sri Lanka was pretty decent, like I wasn't able to understand films. But when I talk to my Sri Lankan film fans, they would say, Yeah, this is written in, like the equivalent of Shakespearean English, like really high level single that nobody can understand unless that's all you've grown up around.
But I would have like decent conversations with people when I'd live in Sri Lanka in single eye, my Hindi. I can understand a lot like I can understand a good amount of what's going on. But my speaking isn't very good. And there are a lot of like psychological reasons to that. Where when I live in India, people just expect me to know him. The like. Why do you expect? So? I just get a get stifled, and I don't get to learn on my own pace.
God, But yes, I can understand a lot of Hindi. I can read it. I can't speak very well. No. And Bengali is Britain wise. Like I can read Bengali? It's not really complicated, but I can't understand it very well either. So And fell a gulag? No, I can understand the word. No. In, like, ten different forms of it. That's okay. Hey, that's funny. Yeah. Who were your earliest remodels within your immediate family? My mom?
Absolutely. Actually, both my parents, but for very different reasons. Lee, my dad is very empathetic and, you know, like more socially conscious, even in the early nineties than I would use the word socially conscious now. But then, it was just a general empathy, like in terms of vocabulary, for expressing that type of feel like actions towards others. And my mom is just like a bad bitch. So of bad aspect.
Yeah, No like or bad bitch in a good way where she's like she has worked incredibly hard and is incredibly smart and has shown me that the value of being independent and like feeling independent and that Princeton's like a partnership, like my her, my father are not reliant on each other, but they're partners, and I like getting older and like realizing exactly what that means. And my parents got married later, had me later and my brother.
But understanding that doing things for yourself is not selfish. If how you find it's how you have, like a better or more fulfilled life and a better partnership with somebody is when you know who you are. And my mom also took me I mean, super white feminist, but she took me to see Gloria Steinem when I was in sixth grade. She was like, You're going to see her and I'm like, I don't know what's happening with you, Gloria Steinem.
I feel bad. I only know she's ah, major figure and like second wave feminism. What? What book did you write? You have that, she wrote. She writes books I haven't read. Um, but she is. I mean, she's pivotal in terms of how feminism grew in the seventies and eighties. That being said, I don't identify with that type of feminism. But it was important that my mom took me to see her, and my mom has always supported me going too late.
Protest, if I wanted Teo are like working in state policy, for instance, and my mom will come Teo fundraise like I have to go to fundraisers for work. Like, I just have to go in network. Not really not for, like, show that I'm there. So we're Auto. This was last fall. We were at a fundraiser on She wanted to come, but I was like, Okay, I guess it would be hella boring and she got to meet some of the people I work with and our work with tangentially.
And she just seems so impressive, like there's nothing to be impressed by a A. I'm just she was impressed with you or the both. I think on DH. She likes talking up, so my mom has taught me a lot. Another guy aspired to that sort of Ah, I don't like academic or intellectual rigor like she has a very intellectually rigorous job, and I aspire to having the same sort of confidence. What does she do? She's an anesthesiologist.
So she's the person who puts you to sleep when you're about to go into surgery. Oh, yeah, five. But I don't just like, aspiring to like that, aspiring to a job that's a youthful feel fulfilled in right, intellectually in everywhere. Yeah, Exactly. And that's something that definitely keep in mind in my work experience. Is that something you demand out of your work? Yeah. Or like I will create for myself if it's not inherently there.
Uh, yes. Yeah. Can you give an example that in regards Teo like, do you still work? It means squeeze. Yes. I've actually have to go there at one. Thirty. All right. Were you specifically referring to that job or just being a kind of ah, less. Ah. You know, working the food industry is opposed to working in the state capital. No, no, I mean, so that's the thing. I think people give service bad name when I think service is incredibly important.
I mean, the II agree is important, but like is being yeah, his effort. I can't remember the exact or that we're using, but stimulating. Yeah. Yeah. So I really like my food service job. I enjoy. Like I opted to stay there for even through during session. I'm like, Yo, I don't work there about in the permit schedule, but I work like three or four times a month, and I find it to be intellectually challenging in a different way.
I find that emotional intelligence is incredibly important and overlooked in policy. And so people are not emotionally intelligent at the capital. It's just how it is. They don't interact with each other in a way that I think is appropriate or polite or that leads to beneficial results. That being said, that's why orca means please, I enjoy interacting with customers, enjoy listening to them. I enjoy having a personable, polite interaction of people and pushing myself to remember that those air valuable experiences is the reason I still work there, and I didn't.
I honestly enjoy the physical aspect of that job. Enjoy feeling tired? Yeah. Enjoy feeling like knowing that my body has worked. But look, even when I was working there thirty hours a week before I got the full time job in Jeff City, I made the job harder for myself by introduced like writing up a process document as a training documents, Uh, where was like, Okay, we're going, like, standardized, how people are trained that way.
They're not getting conflicting information from everybody else, and they're learning and like, if everybody has a base thing, they could be creative. After that, I don't care. But if everybody knows, like smoothies are supposed to be like the Poland like sort of look like polenta, we don't have any problems. You can do whatever you want. After that, you learn how to be creative when people ask for weird substitution.
Zor were whatever is right if you learn how to clean, really clean, police it properly if you learn how to use our system properly, even if it changes like the document he changed. So I chose to do that, and I chose to like train people in a standardized way, which, yes, it seems like you're sucking the creativity out of a local business like, I think it just heightens everything. I think everybody know being on the same footing is better for in the long run.
But I learned that I enjoyed adding more to my plate to challenge myself. Actually, my job in India, Yes, I worked for a social enterprise. Which base was called I'm Eric Technology Services. And so what it does is it works with an NGO that provides, like job training to people and the job English and technology training Teo under privileges. And they're underprivileged because their ports were like those areas.
They're just so economically depressed that nobody has access to anything. So you take these talented young people, and given this training, the people who want to in her like we're the top of their class have the option to work for. I merrily tested on whatever so I merit brings digital jobs from around the world to our locations in West Bengal. So like image tagging for Bloomberg images or they're doing three D like tag three d tagging for video games for Microsoft at a certain point, like I just think it's an incredible idea that young men in run and raunchy, which is the capital of Dar Khan, which is part of like the Red Belt.
So where Maoism was really like communism and Maoism was a stronghold in those areas. These use who don't have access to jobs or to economic growth and who were just angry because they were raised in the society that just angry and has no outlet. All of a sudden early doing these incredibly challenging time computer program, their projects and my boss was like she was like Yeah, you could see the look in two months that they weren't angry anymore.
They felt challenged, fulfilled. So the work I did for them was technically marketing the media. But I did. When I would get bored, I would like, do research projects and figure out like the like economic and political backgrounds for why this program makes sense. We're like took like Contextualized lit on. I also worked with UNHCR, the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees. I worked with them in Delhi, in New Delhi, and did a project through like it was joint project between I Merit and UNHCR to see if our model would work with refugees and Delhi.
Like I did that by myself. I mean, with, like, the institutional support. But I was a person doing that work. Aunt. I chose to do it because and chose to do it as well as I could because I wanted to feel challenged. I wanted to produce a good report and, like, good out. Not good. Meaning, like good for us, but, uh, ah, Report with integrity. With, like, riel recommendations. One of your strongest qualities is probably taking them this.
You just Yeah, yeah, probably. I just Yeah. Yes. Is speaking of America. Yeah. Have you ever heard of digital already? Call it virtual assistance. Like people like I read this book called The Four Hour Work. It was like the thirty four day work week. No, it's like the four hour, like working down what is theirs. And I don't really like a lot of the parts about it. But he spoke about hiring assistants. Specifically, South Asia in these people like are basically, like full fledged secretaries and do highly technical things.
No, you know, the whole gamut of things. And it just seems such a bizarre concept. But you're talking about this. I'm like, man, I think that some of the stuff that they do there is probably related to virtual system. Yeah, so something that that we have, like, the headquarters in Calcutta, uh, like a help desk, but it provides what I didn't. So I'll explain. This isn't a second at level one and level to support for applications.
And that means, like, troubleshooting up Tio like finding like preventive errors, like trying to be proactive about things that might go wrong in the applications. So do this for think like twenty different applications for different organizations. Just Catholic release relief services, which has, like, I think, like seventy different offices around the world. We are their help center their application help center, which is incredible.
Like you have these people from West Bengal who were not exposed to anything outside of Bengali culture early at most, like North Indian culture working with people from around the world. T do application support. So that's, um Yeah. So I the virtual says something. We do that, but in help, death sort of way. Right? And so I mean, I still like, well, sometimes work for I merit. Which is why I use the present tense like that.
I'd still there. I'll contract out with him for a conference of some stuff. That's right. Um, so were you raised a particular religion? And if so, are you so Okay, I mean, culturally Hindu. But I don't practice anything. They do. Your parents practice. My dad's become more religious over time. My mom was never religious, not even as a youth. We would go teo equivalent of Sunday school. But it was once a month.
We go to community things, choose like Hindu India in Colombia. And is there a strong Hindu community here? When I was growing up, it was relatively smaller, maybe like two hundred people I don't know about now because we don't go to functions. But that being said, Excuse me, There is a large number of like emigre families will come through like residents, their families, like there are a lot of Indian Hindus and culture who will come here.
It's just how they practice. So, for instance, like my best friend when my best friends lives in Boston and she's actually well, she's actually religious, like she doesn't of prescribed to the idea of having to give up for anything else. But she's very socially conscious, like does a lot of social justice stuff with her particular faith group. She's still Hindu, but it's interesting to see how Hinduism can evolve in us like again with the idea of, like, not speaking, your language is like you kind of give up your own religion to because it doesn't mesh well with white marriage culture, right?
Oh, you're seen as it's easier to be other eyes by your religion. So it's not something I'm against, I like, I mean, luckily. And Hinduism atheism still has a role like you could be atheists and Hindu interesting as opposed to. Well, I actually have something recently that there's like the atheist priest Catholicism's, and it's like that doesn't make sense. But in a way, it kind of does like it's not one hundred percent incompatible.
Yeah, well, you could still have you have a religion or religious texts guiding your morals or values, but you don't have to prescribe to to pray or to believing that a god exists, which I think is completely valid way of looking at religion. So that's why I say I'm Hindu and culture because it still informs a lot of how I interact with people or how it was raised. Um, why is it so difficult for humans to consider the possibility that life may be pointless?
Oh, because where we hear them wiry, pretty seed capitalism like, why does capitalism exists if we don't have a purpose of the end? That's my answer. Cool. Yeah, I mean, because a lot of how we how we live is through this lens of production and output and consumption. And if life doesn't have a meaning to it, then every other aspect of how we frame our world is just know. So it's so difficult for people consider because the whole system is around reinforcing this idea that there is a purpose.
Um what moment or memory in your life or you absolutely and totally loved in love or loved loved? Probably when I had meningitis. How old are you again when they haven't? It was summer after sophomore year, so I was fourteen. Did you miss a lot of school for that? No. Dessert Summer. I was in the hospital for a week. It took me, like, six weeks to recover. But I like recovered. Like maybe a couple. Of course.
We'll start knows. Fine. Like I still have some residual issues, but not mental. It's like just biological, so Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Here's another question. On what occasion do you like Liar? Omit that. Live specifically. Trouble. When I don't want to embarrass my parents like make them feel uncomfortable. But it's not like horrible eyes. And it's not something that if they ask me straight forward, I wouldn't respond to shows.
You don't need to know that, and it's not harming anybody. Yeah, that's I don't usually lie because it takes a lot of memory space. Toh Lai, and remember the life, right? Yeah. So I just usually with me, it's not a malicious way that I lied to my parents. Like we don't need to have this conversation right now. Alive. Musket. Ah, okay. Areas pushing. Oh, yeah. So it could be said that American Indians in Eastern holders respect their elders more or less our.
But I'm not so much in the Western world. There's a kind of a disdain for old age. Can you explain that difference? So, in my opinion, I'm not going to say it's an authoritative opinion. I think that like a lot of cultures. So America itself is an immigrant culture. No one suffer Native Americans. No one is from here. Ah, so when you are inherently displacing yourself from your family, you're you're the idea of individual ism is more popular on the idea that you have to.
It's every man for himself is more popular because you just you just left your family and your family's fruits are They're not a media. So in the rest of the world, where that has, I've been the foundation for society's culture. Family is still considered very important because they're right there. Your old people are right there. So I think that if Americans were not force, but if they were raised in a historic culture, like thousands of years where your generation's were all in one house, we're like all in the same blocks a couple blocks dear appreciation for aging and for taking care of older people would still be there so like my brother and I are still very like.
I mean, I live with my parents, so obviously I'm invested in this. But we are. We have actively told our parents, like, if you when you're older and if you want to live near us, we would be more than happy for you to live near us like that is a big deal for me, my ex boyfriend who is white like Wasp, quite like Boston Brahmin Wythe. Truth comes out. Yeah, well, that's what he is. And like Mom's Jewish. But again, like they came over like they came over it like before the Holocaust.
And so they're like divorce enough away from Judaism as a culture that for all intents and purposes, it's a still a very white family. And when we'd have these conversations about aging parents like Oh, I would definitely want my parents to live near me if they could Neer Raj and my brother and he did not understand that he was like this was like for like three years ago. We start having conversations, but he didn't understand why I would want my parents to take care of my parents.
I feel like that was a fundamental difference in how we were raised. Like, yes, my parents left well. My grandfather left his family. My father left his family. Bye. They're still. It's still part of their culture to care about aging and care about what The elders. That being said, I personally tune out a lot of old people when they talk like old people, when they talk to me because I, like you, don't understand my conteh and I understand that your advice is it comes from a good place but necessarily applicable.
So the reverence is not necessarily there, but respecting them as a CZ. Humans who are in a process of deterioration is something that I think a lot of people who have fruits in moral late or who aren't has separated from other Cicely cultures are more want to do right now. So I wouldn't say the leg like white Americans, are inherently more callous. I think it's just a way like how white Americans have socialized.
Yeah, I like. I really like how you you kind of mentioned it's in the fabric of being American, as in Teo, to leave and put something behind and which is totally different from basically most of the world. The world? Yeah. Um There. No, thank you. What's more important, conviction or compromise? Compromise. Absolutely compromise. I think that conviction leads to grandstanding and grandstanding leads Teo bad politics and bad policies.
Oh, are we talking about political grandstanding is political thing. Yeah, s o thes politicians have a language? Yeah, they d'Oh d'Oh. Absolutely. I always forget that not everyone is, as in gross, in this field. So Grant. So for instance, Senator Kurt Shaper, who is our senator in Boone County. He is running for attorney general statewide. So to shore up thie the base or like you're more extreme conservative Republicans in St he's led he has lend himself to grandstanding or using his background in law an oration which he's very good at.
And if you watches the debate's in two thousand eight, when he ran against Chuck Graham and some independent from I don't remember where you could understand why he was elected. He's incredibly poise and has a really affirmative but not threatened a way of speaking. But he's used that two grand Stander likes the labor a point of view he doesn't actually hold, which is amore extreme view, whether it's against Planned Parenthood or if it's against Syrian refugees.
Are Fitz against orphans for getting rid of the earnings tax, which is a St Louis, Kansas City issued not in Colombia issue. He is able to kind of highlight Ehrlich, heighten his way of speaking to make his point known and to make it seem more impassioned. So that's kind of grandstanding is it doesn't really have a point like he's doing anything about it. He's just talking a lot about nothing. So anyway, I feel like a lot of people with conviction, but without compromise will lead to more grandstanding and mortar standing, like holding up your point of view without trying to understand something else's or, like, try to learn about their point of view.
And I think compromise is important in that respect, where you're not just self segregating the learning only about your point of view but or your own lived experiences. But you're learning about others and trying to integrate that into your own way of thinking. And in terms of policy, it makes from one more while informed and smarter policy in terms of just living your life. It just makes you a less shitty person.
So, yeah, that's interesting. Is that fairly unique to politics? Would you say, or or maybe it's like heightened in the political arena. I think that I don't know, like when I worked in business in India, even there's a sense of grandstanding in a sense of self importance. It's just projected differently. So I think a lot of professions have it. It's a matter of why what inherently in those fields allow you to express it and how to express it.
Good. Um, uh, Utah films. There's like a folks here and labor organize I don't know much about, but he had this quote. Fine. Anarchy is making rules for yourself, not others. And but anyway, the question is, who is entitled our substitute better or there? Who's entitled to make rules? Very good question. I have a lot of thoughts that have a lot of thoughts on a lot of things. I think you're easy. I think that I so I feel like fundamentally, the idea of law and order is flawed.
And the idea that we must obey these rules created by white men and power is not something that I particularly feel comfortable with. That being said. Like seeing how the proverbial sausages made in Jeff City. You have a lot of questions about the qualifications or the I like again the compromise capabilities of these people to understand that there lived experiences. Not everybody else is in the states God, which they don't.
They don't pay attention. They don't care. They want their way of the highway. So I think that in order for people to be lawmakers, if they're going Teo feel like they have to understand, Like the concert. Okay. Did you wanna Yeah, you're good. No, I feel like for lawmakers to be effective, they have to either has to be diversity and representation in the legislative body. I think that you need to have poor representative Tito have, well, not actually wealthy, really, a lot of more middle class representatives.
You need to have representatives with various backgrounds, and we need to have more women. You need to have more ethnic and racial and religious diversity. We have no Muslims in the Missouri. Later, there's little I only know there's any non religious people, either. R. There's a lot of that. Somebody can be. You can be spoken, and that goes back to what you're saying about people, like fighting for things.
They don't even really believe it. Yeah, yeah, and I think that, like representation in diversity matters especially and being ableto Kraft, decent legend legislation and laws for the citizens to follow. But also Pete Smart. You would think that that would be inherent in the political process. But surprise. It's not when representatives talk about wanting Teo, make it mandatory for misery. High schoolers To take the citizenship test like as a test, you need to pass to graduate.
My question is, why don't you guys have to do that? Or if you're going to be on a science committee like, Why don't you have to have a fundamental understanding of science, our fundamental understanding of economics or of history? Like this week, they had the mandatory citizenship test. It was part of this package with the civics education bill and Brandon Ellington, who I adore as representative from St Louis.
And he tried to add an amendment to make world history a requirement, a sort of a recommendation fifteen minutes of pushed back by people who didn't think that civics like that world history, it anything to do with civics education. When you're like American history. American government wasn't created in a vacuum. It was informed by everything that's ever happened. So look, that's cool. And what is this Texas?
Yeah, Funny thing about Texas. They only have session once every other year. They only have their state obsession. Are they won the only seats, Which is that I'm not sure. I just have a friend in Texas who was telling me about it. Yeah, that's good. I had a full question, but forgot it in terms of Take Smithson, remember? But, Amy, if we did not have Oh, yeah, Iro no. Yeah. So you're talking about the diversity needed in state legislation and yeah, what is can you are what's, like three ways that could happen Or a few ways that could happen.
Yeah. So there are a lot of barriers to entrance in terms of being able to run for the House of the Senate. One of them is you have to have a job that allows that flexibility to campaign, right, but also which is basically, like, no job. Yeah, knows I don't know. They don't like you. They're very few jobs that allow for that. You also have to have a Job that will let you 2 be off for five months out of the year.
And no one does that. I think the pay is decent. It's like thirty five thousand for five months that you're in session. People like, Oh, it's so much like no. But think about the people who may not have jobs outside of that because you can't. You're constantly there campaigning, meeting with constituents, trying to understand problems. You're drafting legislation for next session like it is a full time job, and I think that they're like, If you want someone who's low income, how the hell are they going to make those networks in their own communities to run for office?
Like that's one of the main issues is How do you find qualified candidates are candidates who represent a diverse background to run for anything? It's really, really hard, right? It's hard to find people try to find people who will undergo the public scrutiny of an election, especially if you're a Democrat in the middle and like in the middle of the state, right? So when I was talking about before with gerrymandering, St Louis and Can City are Jerry Mander for Republicans like you have all these Republicans representing urban areas like that doesn't make sense like these air clearly other people who I represent, the lived experiences of those various pockets.
And also, yeah, it's the way that mid Missouri was re redistricting four years ago, means that we share space with holes ville, which is fine, but it also scuse how the rest of Colombia is represented. So you have this, like low income part of Colombia Mesh merged with holes Villeneuve political district. Those are two very conflicting wants and needs on DH out I don't like. I think that's a huge problem.
I think that women like they're still rampant sexism in the capital into the political process. So women are highly discouraged just by the nature of how you have Tio cope with the campaign, leaving the campaign effort as a woman. It's really shitty, and being a person of color, you are criticised even more. He really could. You're it's more suspicious, like why you're running like people don't question the white men who run, and I hate to put all these very broad or blanket statements, but especially the reality of politics, right?
Oh, he looks like he's from the Dukes of Hazzard, So yeah, yeah, if you like in some of these townies, if you're something's districts, if you just haven't are by your name, they will vote for you without considering You're here and that's what I think. My history professor told me once that you are somewhere along the line that like forty percent of people are going to vote Democrat, forty percent of people are going to vote Republican almost tomorrow.
It's like you're fighting for that twenty percent. That's not straight. You're still it's like it's crazy to think about that, because that's like eighty percent of people. Yeah, it is very interesting. But in the same way, it's like, miraculously, that they both settle around almost forty. Like, I don't know, it's It's is beyond me. Yeah, political theory and the introduction of demographics is really pretty crazy to think about So briefly, how many Mormons do you have?
I have to just be out at one. Twenty one twelve minutes. Um, if we didn't have nationality, how would it affect you? Well, that's an interesting question, because you're assuming that nations don't exist exist. Was so basically you're asking, how would not any country being colonized impact us today because nations in come into existence as such until the British, French and Dutch colonized right and then left him, uh, you know, haphazardly broke apart these various entities into the idea of nation states now, And a lot of the issues that come out of nationality in terms of like, relations with their people or how those government are propped up, we're not propped up and, you know, whatever comes out, it's idea being independent from colonial powers.
So we have to rewind like two hundred years, and that's where I'll go with how nationality or not having nationality would impact people. I think that makes trade, for instance, a lot easier if you're along because everyone's going always going to be along ethnic lines. But nation is arbitrary. And is this new idea, right? So I think that trade is easier migrations easier Blake. There's still a lot of oppression.
I'm not saying that that went away, but it shows you've removed a bear like another level of oppression. Right? So way can't undo the horrendous nature of colonialism. But s I can't really answer that question about nationality. Let's get your talking about it. And that was the important thing Is one of those t K. Do you have any questions for Shell before I go into this, like, five minutes ending thing, okay.
I really just wanted to. It's like I always wanted you everything. No. Yeah. No, wait for our Yeah. So were you. No. Yeah, yeah, no, I got it. I got it. Yeah. Hey, thanks for coming. It was just It was a pleasant surprise to see it was a great surprise by T K for all of you don't know is one of the most, like, artistic and just interesting people. Poetic, poetic Hell, yeah. But also artistic in that. What? She draws their doodles you like.
I've never seen those. How do you know? T k Miranda? Craig? I don't if you know her, I know her from undergrad, but Marina Miranda's a mutual friend. Antique. And I would see each other out. It's up, actually. Hang out. Like talking to her, even if it's, like, thirty minutes a month. You know, it's something I look forward to. Was running into her. Yeah, yeah, definitely is always interesting time. Ah, okay. All right.
So these last ones. Ah, answer them relatively as quickly as you can, but but not. But don't feel too much pressure about that. You can expand. Okay. So Oh, how do you find peace of mind running? I did. Um, please tell me something good that you've never had. And you never want what you mean by that. Oh, boy. Ah, I mean Oh, thanks. Ah, good thing. That you just don't want. And you've never I mean, yeah, it is a very no interesting question, but celebrity.
Good. Um, what's the healthiest cultural shift you see developing today? Dude, I love young people, So my she looking no, seriously, like how they have quickly embodied, like inter sexual politics is incredible to me. Like young people concede, to find young people, I mean, put it time twenty, twenty five on and, yeah, a heist like current high school until, like lower freshmen and sophomores in college.
Okay, so that range of people, like even my cousin, who's thirty, so thirteen up until, like maybe nineteen teenagers, literal teenagers right now blow my mind with how fast they're able to accept people who are who they are. Except new ideas are like new contracts in sociology, new ideas of gender and, like general sexuality. New political ideas like the hell I think it's an Internet thing, like having constant exposure to the people by the Internet is incredible.
And when I talk to people and I assume they're going to judge me based on what to say, like no, that's cool. Whatever you like, right? What they just accept. They're so open to new ideas and it blows my mind. And I think it's an incredible thing. Toe watch and to be like tangentially apart of like when I hang out with my cousins or my have a younger interns, and I'm like, Oh, I have so much faith, like things are going to be okay.
That's Could you answer another question? Yeah. Faith that things are going to be okay because you have smart young people who are engaged, and I like having a interaction. Yeah, good. Um, it is calm. Be a Missouri special. Yes. You chose to come back here. I mean, after traveling so much, I want to come back because, uh, well, first of all, I mean, my parents are here, so I live with them, and it's close enough, Jeff City that I can work there.
Bye. Also, it's like when I lived in Berkeley for a summer, and I would tell my friends, they're that Columbia has like Colombia's part of the Orion belt of liberalism. St. Louis can city Columbia. And it's nice to have a bubble in a place that people assume it's so red and being ableto but also have access to people who think again, think differently. So what? In my freshman year, I canvassed for Judy Baker, who was running for a congressional seat but is now running for treasurer.
And I think most valuable aspect of that was being able to go to a little town outside of Colombia and meeting people and seeing how they lived and showing the Milly not everybody from Colombia is a certain way. I know what that was. I really like Colombia because of the proximity to like about diversity, ethnic diversity. I cannot diversity and also in terms of natural disasters. Because I'm terrified of global warming.
This is one of the safest places to be. Yeah. Yeah. Good. Um, what questions remain unresolved for you? A lot of them. Like how will? How does it like? It's a broad, like macro economic question. But how do we create jobs? Like how this's actually something I think about frequently is whose responsibility is it to create jobs and to innovate and like it? I don't think the government at all but love. But how does that happen?
How's the process of quote unquote creating jobs occur? And how do we diversify economic spaces? Those are lous. Yeah, there's There's a lot of questions because they really directly back to liketo an individual's idea of job security. How do you How do you decide where to work or decide to live right on? Is all becoming so confusing too. Because of you, technological development create and displace jobs.
And so things were constantly just looks. So this is like, this is a shul Questions. I have anybody out large help me understand. Um, what does courage mean now? In today's world, I don't think it means military force. I'll get courage. Yeah, OK. Yeah. So people will say that people in the military have courage, and I don't necessarily believe that. And I don't necessarily believe that they're synonymous in terms of like campaigning But I think courage is Hey, can you stand up?
No. Against an oppressive force. And I think this is like, can you stand up against pressure oppressive forces, whether they're an individual level, even in your friendships. Like, if there's something like oppressive going on, do you have courage to stand up and talk about it and start to dismantle it right now? Good. Okay. Um, so these last eight questions even faster when you can be funny or cute or seriously, I'm I am not a funny or cute person.
Whatever. We'd laugh the good times. Ah, where have we come from? Um, bed bang through space materials. Sorry. Yeah, Big bang theory. Good. Uh, where? What are we? I mean, mammals. Technically, yeah. I don't like to put up a lot of stock into I'm trying to define humans. Our purpose changes. Teo, trying to define humans, are trying to define ourselves like or like Are you all four defining like chickens, for example.
I think biologically, it's pretty easy to find chickens. I think it's pretty easy to biologically to find humans. I don't know the biological definition. It's I can't. That's why I'm not answering it in that way. But I don't place a lot of stock in a lot philosophizing over the role of humans because it just leads to a lot of anxiety. Yeah, anxiety and the black hole always. So where are we going? To infinity and beyond.
Take it. Are we going to make it? Probably not. I think we're all going super fucked over by climate change. Really? Yeah, I'm terrified of it. And that's why I'm probably not going to kids. Like I am terrified of the idea of our world. Clea drastically changed in the last hundred years. And policymakers, for instance, and corporate leaders, I'm not doing anything to tie me up, right? And I Yeah, I'm just like the fact that we have nice weather right now terrifies me.
Right? So I have anxiety attacks a lot. Yeah, I don't do well, who's cleaning it up? Uh, God, sound so partisan, but primarily like left leaning governments. So, for instance, well, that something in the last, within a month or two months, what's his name? The prime minister of Australia and then Stephen Harper from Canada were both picked out of office. And a lot of that was their their policies on climate change.
So I'm just saying that we Americans are really slow on the uptake, but a lot of other governments are reacting appropriately. Right? Reacting appropriately. Yeah. Ah, and last question. Is it serious? Uh Nothing's really serious. It's all kind of a game. It's just a matter of high while you play game. Good. Thanks so much today, Sheila. For coming and talking. Yeah, Yeah. No problem. Thank you for having me. Yeah.