About Pooja Salhotra

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Fight Intensifies Over Exam That’s Said to Keep Black Students Out of NYC’s Elite High Schools

Members of PLACE staged a rally at City Hall in October to advocate for the SHSAT. (Photo: Jasmine Photo)

One month after Sierra Fraser participated in a demonstration against New York City’s high school admissions testing, she’s visibly distressed about the experience.

“It was rough,” the 18-year-old college freshman tells me over Zoom, her hair sitting atop her head in a tight bun and her voice quickly turning from quiet and composed to loud and frustrated. Sierra adjusts her glasses and looks up at the ceiling: “We were chanting ‘Black students matter,’ and they yelled back ‘All students matter.’ Their signs said ‘Education for all,’ but how can you say ‘Education for all’ and not support a more inclusive education system for Black and brown students?” More →

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Activist Bookstore Bluestockings Has Reopened and ‘A Lot of Magic Is Happening’

(Above photo courtesy of Bluestockings, others by Pooja Salhotra)

“Pretty much every place I go, I look for the anarchist bookstore,” says Jason Dean, who wears dark-rimmed glasses and a black winter jacket. Dean fumbles with his new purchase, Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story collection The Unreal and the Real, and explains to me that he’s on a cross-country road trip. Dean started from his home in Washington State and is now making his way down the Atlantic coast in a camper van. Thursday is his last day in New York, and he doesn’t miss the opportunity to stop into the new location of Bluestockings, a radical bookstore, café and activist center that, for many, is a Lower East Side institution.   More →

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Covid Casts a Shadow Over the Festival of Lights

Sweets at an Indian grocery store. (Photo: Pooja Salhotra) 

What is usually a season of large gatherings, feasts and fireworks is instead being marked by quiet family prayers and Zoom meetups as over a billion people around the world find ways to observe Diwali– a celebration of good over evil– during a pandemic. More →

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Praying For Our Nation On Election Day? So Are These Churches

Old First Reform Church in Brooklyn. (Photo: Maureen Doyle) 

As people across the country brace for what could be an agonizing night of slow election returns followed by post-election pandemonium, churches are stepping in to offer moments of quiet prayer.  

It’s perhaps not even worth mentioning that this year’s election is different from any that have come before. Not only are we living under a president who refuses to say that he will peacefully concede should he lose, we are also facing unprecedented logistical challenges. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, states are seeing historically high levels of mail-in ballots, which take longer to count than in-person ballots. There’s a good chance we won’t even have election results by election night. All this to say, there’s a lot of uncertainty at an already stressful time. Responding to the anxieties of their communities, churches are offering their constituents a safe haven. More →

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Costume Stores Say Halloween Shoppers Haven’t Been Scared Off

A last-minute shopper visits the Halloween Adventure Shop. (Photo: Pooja Salhotra)

Just one day before Halloween, there’s a bit of a frenzy inside the Halloween Adventure Shop on 4th Avenue. Customers walk in carrying sopping wet umbrellas, and they leave behind their slippery footprints. Inside, they shuffle around the store, some selecting the final touches to their costumes, others still looking for inspiration as they browse the wall of wigs.  More →