Three years ago, visual artist Victoria Cassinova, now 25, fell five stories from the fire escape outside her apartment window in Hollywood, severing her spine, and shattering her feet. It was midnight and she had just gotten home from a party when she realized she had left her keys inside. Her botched attempt at retrieving the keys nearly left her paralyzed from the waist down. Luckily, landing on dirt cushioned the fall. “If it was concrete or asphalt, I would have been done, probably,” she says.
Nisha K. Sethi was 13 at the time, and the daughter of Punjabi Sikhs who’d immigrated from India. Born and raised in Berkeley, an ethnically mixed city where residents regularly protested intolerance and discrimination, Nisha suddenly found herself on the receiving end of intolerance. The overt discrimination was a shock to Nisha who was already a veteran of protest rallies against police brutality and discrimination.
“I remember seeing [the terrorists] on TV and they kind of looked like me,” she recalled. “It really scared me because the next day when I went to school, everyone was just staring at me and calling me Osama.”