The Team


Left to Right: Tarika, Sasha, Kimmi, Dharani, Arita, Shivana, Simone, Lissa, Yasmin

Arita Balaram is an Indo-Caribbean activist from the Bronx. She is working on her PhD at CUNY Graduate Center where she spends her days thinking about race, gender, and the legacies of colonialism. She is interested in the stories that circulate within diasporas, across geographies, and through generations. She has taught classes on the psychology of gender and sexuality at Hunter College and LaGuardia Community College, and has had her writing published by Social and Personality Psychology Compass and the Urban Research Network. Her activism and academic work reflect her deep personal commitments to issues of justice and healing, and to strengthening the bonds between womxn of color.

Sasha Balkaran is an undergraduate student majoring in Biochemistry and Public Policy while completing a minor in Spanish at the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading Caribbean and Latin American literature, playing music, and spending time with her family. She was brought to this project by her interest in the Indo-Caribbean identity and her desire to promote intergenerational healing.

Lissa Deonarain is a queer, disabled, Guyanese-American activist and filmmaker from Omaha, Nebraska now living in New York. She majored in Documentary Filmmaking and Producing at Emerson College, discovered her love of archival work while working for the college archives. Lissa’s films explore social justice issues and themes such as identity, belonging and memory, largely inspired by her own experiences as a multiracial woman and daughter of an immigrant. Her thesis film, Double Diaspora: A Portrait of Indo-Caribbeans in New York documents and explores the views and experiences of Indo-Caribbean Americans in New York, as well as social issues that plague the community. Lissa is also an avid language learner, travel enthusiast, classically trained pianist, and multimedia artist.

Kimmi Ramnine was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. A queer, first generation immigrant, Kimmi moved to Brooklyn at 15. She has lived in Washington D.C. for the past 6 years and is currently studying Library and Information Science at the University of Maryland. She is passionate about youth engagement & development, community organizing, urban farming, and Caribbean literature of all kinds. She also loves soca too bad!

Tarika Sankar is a PhD student in English Literature at the University of Miami. Her research focuses on Caribbean literature, Indo-Caribbean feminisms, and digital humanities. She has presented her research at the West Indian Literature Conference and the Society for Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the US (MELUS.) Tarika is also involved with the humanities advocacy project, WhatEvery1Says, a cofounder of the Critical Cultural Studies graduate collective, and serves on the executive board of the Graduate Student Association at the University of Miami. She is originally from the Washington, D.C. area, where she was born after her parents immigrated from Trinidad and Guyana.

DHARANI PERSAUD(they/them, she/her)
Dharani Persaud is a queer writer living in so-called Vancouver on stolen and ancestral Musqueam land. She holds a BA in International Relations from Wellesley College and is currently pursuing a dual master's in Archival Studies and Library and Information Sciences at University of British Columbia. They are greatly interested in the intersections of intergenerational storytelling and food and silences in the archives, and is forever looking for Indo-Caribbean histories that echo her own identities.

Simone Devi Jhingoor, co-director of Jahajee Sisters, is an Indo-Caribbean artist, healer, coach and facilitator. For over a decade, she has supported youth of color in NYC to become cultural and community organizers; has led transformational leadership development programs for women of color to center their healing; and has produced dynamic cultural events to create a platform for artists of color. Simone is committed to building the power of survivors of intimate partner and sexual violence to fight for gender justice in the Indo-Caribbean community. She also trains and coaches women of color and gender-fluid leaders to make a lasting imprint on the world by tapping into their inner wisdom to realize their life’s purpose. Simone previously served as the Director of External Communications at the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco) where she led the organization’s communications efforts and managed institutional funder relationships. Her other experience includes running SAYA!’s first Desi Girls on Da Rise Program in Richmond Hill for teens and creating a ground-breaking youth development program called Linking Identity to Living Arts (LILA) for the Rajkumari Cultural Center that was taken into Queens public schools. In her spare time, Simone enjoys penning and performing poetry that speaks to her unique experience as an Indo-Caribbean woman growing up in the Boogie Down Bronx.

SHIVANA JORAWAR (she her, they/them)
Shivana Jorawar co-director of Jahajee Sisters, is a queer second-generation Guyanese American who believes in intersectional feminism and unapologetically speaking truth to power. She currently serves as State Legislative Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, and previously served as Federal Policy Director for the National Abortion Federation. For four years, she directed reproductive justice priorities for the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF). Her additional experience includes working with the anti-domestic violence organization Sakhi for South Asian Women, where she led outreach in the Indo-Caribbean neighborhood of Richmond Hill, Queens. She currently sits on the board of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and her writing and commentary have been featured in The Hill, The American Prospect, Colorlines, the Nation, the Associated Press and the Harvard Asian American Law Journal. Originally from the Bronx, Shivana holds a BA in Political Science from Fordham University and a JD from Emory University School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in New York state. Follow Shivana on Twitter @shivspeaks.

YASMIN TONEY (she/her)
Yasmin Toney is a queer Black and Indo-Guyanese artist. She was born and raised in Tampa, Florida into a mixed-race household and joined the project to learn of her maternal history and gain a community of Indo-Caribean womxn. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Brown University and worked at the Brown Center for Students of Color as a student. Her passions include writing screenplays and creative fiction works, taking acting classes, and tending to her itchy travel bug.

Noella Deonarain (she/her) is a graphic designer and illustrator currently located in Omaha, Nebraska. She is the designer behind Ro(u)ted by Our Stories' logo. Find more of her work here.

Special thanks to Sarah Alli, Shania Deo, & Rajwantie Sahai for their contributions at various stages of the project.