An Immigrant + a Son of Refugees Walk In To A Bar…

Ritik Dholakia
4 min readFeb 2, 2017
An Immigrant + a Son of Refugees

I am an immigrant. I moved to the United States from India when I was 2 years old. Khoi is the son of refugees, very literally fleeing war. He was born here.

We are both Americans. Public school educated. We love pizza. Beer. Baseball. Rap, hip hop, and indie rock. Modern art, comic books, and action movies. American things. American kids.

It seems like a stupid and unnecessary thing to have to say — yet these days, it bears repeating.

We also understand and appreciate where we come from — India and Vietnam, respectively. Our lives are richer for that heritage.

When we started Studio Rodrigo five years ago, we were very deliberate about making the company an expression of our core values.

We wanted to:
Be Creative. Work Hard. Do Right By People. Make Meaningful Things.

More importantly, we wanted to create a company that took care of our employees + let us give back to our communities. We wanted to pay fairly and well. Give people opportunities for growth. Provide full health care. Support family leave. Support passions outside of work. Foster a sense of family and community. Buy beers.

Our small studio is diverse.

Our team comes from California, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, Hong Kong, Israel, and Venezuela.

We can trace our heritage to China, India, Vietnam, Korea, Poland, Hungary, Ireland, Armenia, Mexico, and Israel.

We created a company very deliberately about our core values.

We did not think that, as a company, we would have to publicly and forcefully state an even more core and fundamental set of values.

But here we are.

  1. We believe discrimination based on race or religion is wrong.
  2. We believe that America is a nation of immigrants, with value created by generation after generation of immigrant labor and ingenuity.
  3. We believe we are a wealthy enough nation that we can afford to be welcoming and generous to people who are less fortunate, and certainly those fleeing wars of our own creation. #NoBanNoWall
  4. We believe we are a wealthy enough nation to provide opportunity for and take care of people here. That includes providing basic health care, taking care of veterans, and investing in opportunities for people whom economic trends are leaving behind.
  5. We believe women deserve equal pay for equal work. #EqualPayForEqualWork
  6. We believe women have the right to choose what to do with their bodies.
  7. We believe people should be able to love whomever they choose. #LoveIsLove
  8. We believe in protecting the right to vote, not trying to make it more difficult.
  9. We believe cops shouldn’t shoot unarmed black people. We don’t think people should shoot cops. We think both of those things are true. #BlackLivesMatter
  10. We believe in living wages. #FightFor15
  11. We don’t like paying taxes, but we understand they are important because they make our country work.
  12. We believe in public education. #PublicSchoolProud
  13. We believe in freedom of the press.
  14. We believe in public media.
  15. We believe in art.
  16. We believe in science. We’d like to leave a non-fucked up planet to our kids.
  17. We believe in facts.
  18. We believe it is NOT OK for foreign governments to overtly influence our election. And definitely not Russians. WOLVERINES!
  19. We believe in not lying to people to their faces on national TV over and over again in a way that is clearly and easily disproved ON FUCKING VIDEO.
  20. We believe you should be able to talk out your differences over a beer.

How the fuck did we elect someone to the highest office of the land who is a megalomaniac reality TV star and has made it necessary to discuss terms like “pussy grabbing??”

Also, and more objectionably, someone who seems keen to advance and institutionalize misogynist, xenophobic, bigoted policies, along with a majority party in Congress who have no shame cravenly and hypocritically undermining both the standards of their office (Merrick Garland?) and unwilling to moderate to respect the popular will of the electorate (72 million votes for other candidates?) #notmyvalues

Yeah. So what do you do?

We are committing Studio Rodrigo to live our values, as best as we are able.

To that end:

  1. We are immediately donating:
    $2500 to the ACLU to fight for the legal rights of all Americans
    $2500 to Make the Road NY to support and safeguard immigrant families
    $2500 to Homes for Our Troops to support veterans
  2. Donating $500 per designer to each designer’s charity of choice
  3. Proudly supporting civic and activist initiatives by individual designers. Such as Pinpal and Hands Too Small, Can’t Resist Them All

We are here as designers, collaborators, commiserators, doing anything we can to support our core values, protect those who need help, and fight for what’s right. #resist.

Looking to do your part? One way to get involved is to read the Indivisible Guide, which is written by former congressional staffers and is loaded with best practices for making Congress listen.