American Stacey Jacob’s ‘trump’ card for protests: The Saree

A new way of protesting against the administration


May 6, 2017

/ By / New Delhi

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Stacey Jacob has been blowing up social media with her Instagram pictures wearing a saree while taking a stand against the discrimination meted out by the Trump administration.

A US national, Stacey Jacob visited the south Indian city of Chennai in 2015. It was then that she was first introduced to Indian textiles. She soon fell in love with the saree and made it an essential part of her wardrobe and style. What followed was a gush of her pictures in the six yard, unstitched fabric on Instagram. Little did she know then, that she would use her new attire and the photo-sharing platform to start a series of marches and protests against the new US administration.

US President Donald Trump recently completed 100 days in office, making decisions that have been opposed by many. He flipped laws for immigrants, particularly Muslims, restricting their entry in the United States; he imposed stricter regulations on IT professionals from India seeking a job in the United States and more recently undid the Obamacare, depriving millions of their health insurance.

While his actions have drawn much rebel from protestors across the country, Stacy decided to say it with a saree while she celebrated her 100 days of resistance.

“I feel personally attacked by the so-called president’s success in overturning existing legislative health care protections. As of today, my husband is effectively trapped in his job for the foreseeable future. We are a family with a long list of “pre-existing conditions”, and stand to lose our health insurance as a result of “Trump Care,” she wrote in one of her posts.

Using #protestsaree, she has been showing her resistance against the Trump administration. She first used the hashtag when she wore a blue cotton saree to the Women’s March on January 21, the same day Donald Trump was sworn in as the US President.

Being completely in awe of the Indian fabric, she chose it as her weapon of protest to show inclusiveness and as a symbol of diversity. “It is an unusual look for a white woman. My hope was that Americans would make comments or ask questions about why I dressed like that. I also hoped to demonstrate solidarity with South Asian families in my community — and indeed all people of colour,” she told Indian press.

Her Instagram handle stajo12, is flooded with protest notes. Furthermore, her daughters, Joanna (20) and Kati (16) are also participating in the protests by flaunting sarees on some occasions.

Initially, Jacob was apprehensive about the reactions from Trump supporters, right-wing, conservative, and anti-immigration bigots, regarding her saree. “This group respond to me with head-shaking and eye-rolling; they seem to think I’m just another liberal nutter,” she was quoted saying. However,  “The surprise has been that the angriest critics have tended to be South Asian women living In the west who see my protest as an insensitive and objectionable display of cultural appropriation,” Jacob exclaimed.

Jacob has been very supportive of the South-Asian community and was perplexed on learning about such comments.

On one occasion, remembering Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who “was senselessly and tragically murdered in a Kansas bar by my ignorant countryman” she said, “So many brown families live here in fear now, and my hope is that by wearing the saree in my everyday life, I can be a clear symbol of the openness and acceptance and appreciation that have gone missing from middle America.”

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