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More Than My Color Winners!

Cover photo: More Than My Color title image with the same text and silhouettes of faces.

The “More Than My Color…” contest was a chance to reclaim our narratives with stories of our own, be they stories, poems, or other written works. This was an opportunity to share your story about race, color, and identity!

The artists were asked to write a story about race, color, and identity. This is the prompt the artists were given:

Race is a burning topic, so is color!

Every day we see and live in the shades of our skins. But is this the only way to see a person, value them, acknowledge them? If you are an immigrant, a child born to immigrants, or someone who has called this land home for generations but looks “different”, SEWA-AIFW invites you to share your story about race or color and (re)claim your identity—the freedom to be you!

The narratives that define us should be ours, as should the stories comprising them. SEWA-AIFW offers a safe space to speak your truth and shatter the model minority myth.

From this we got many submissions and the judges decided on their top three winners!

First Place

so much more” by Mara Mendonza

so much more
Image of Mara Mendoza, who is smiling, has dark shoulder-length hair, and is wearing a pink sari.

Meet the author!

Mara Mendonza was adopted by a single mother in 1995 from IMH- International Mission of Hope in Kolkata, India. She has resided in Minnesota ever since and was recently blessed with the opportunity to travel to India, including visiting her birthplace in Kolkata.

Mara identifies strongly as an international transracial adoptee and is passionate in supporting other adoptees, especially children, grow in their identity. She has served as a camp counselor for adoption camps both in Minnesota and Colorado (Indian-Nepalese Heritage Camp – INHC).

Mara wrote “so much more” back in March of 2019 and originally published (as Mara Smith) with Dear Adoption, a platform that supports and uplifts adoptees’ voices. She hopes that sharing her written works will help empower other adoptees. Click here to visit Dear Adoption.

Mara currently works as a Registered Nurse (RN) and is also in graduate school pursuing her Nurse Practitioner/DNP-Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree. When she is not studying, she enjoys cooking/baking, playing her flute, and spending time outdoors with her husband.

Second Place

“What Are You Good At?” by Anand Balar

Title of the document
Image of Anand Balar, who is standing in front of green foliage, wearing a black suit and a blue tie. He has dark medium-length hair and is smiling.

Meet the writer!

Anand Balar (he/him/his) has been residing in Minnesota for 3 years after living most his life in Indiana. He is the son of two first-generation immigrants from India to the United States. Anand moved here after university to pursue a career in Information Technology while doing political organizing work in his free time.

He has a pet guinea pig named Brownie and enjoys playing and watching basketball. Anand believes he can empower people like himself through art and organizing politically with a purpose.

Third Place

“Inbetweenin'” by Pari Saxena

Title of the document
Image of Pari Saxena. She is smiling, wearing glasses, has short dark hair, and is wearing a blue shirt that says "Power."

Learn about the writer!

Pari Saxena is an upcoming senior at Wayzata High School. She was born in India but moved to the United States when she was three years old with her parents. She has a younger sister who has influenced her work.

Pari has had a passion for writing for as long as she remembers. When Pari isn’t doing schoolwork or her usual, she enjoys reading, analyzing shows and movies, reading psychology articles, and coding. She is continuously working on different pieces and getting ready for college.

Thank You to the Artists!

These art contests are possible because of the talented and passionate artists in our community. Thank you for sharing your experience about race, color, and identity through your art.

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