For the ancestors that toiled before us, and for the children that come after us, we can afford nothing less than to be honest, bold, and brave.
Arti was born to Indian immigrants in the then small town of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Arti grew up as one of the few kids of color in an all-white, conservative Christian neighborhood, while trying to survive the domestic violence she endured in her home.
When Arti was 18, she joined the U.S. Army, as a way to escape her home life and gain financial freedom. Arti didn’t realize it then, but she had become part of the school to military pipeline - a pipeline that so many kids from underserved communities are subject to, but one that no one really talks about. Arti served for six years in the Army as a histotechnologist with a deployment duty to Dover Air Force Base, where she processed the remains of soldiers killed in action in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
In 2006, Arti left the military to finish her Bachelor’s degree at Grand Valley State University (GVSU). Arti completed her degree as a single mother, and graduated with honors from GVSU in 2008.
Arti then started her Ph.D. studies in Microbiology and Immunology in 2008 at Loyola University of Chicago. Her daughter, then 6 years old, was starting first grade, so Arti and her daughter moved to Oak Park, a town that seemed welcoming, and had good schools. Arti and her daughter lived in a small studio apartment - one that Arti could barely afford on her $23,000/year graduate stipend. That first year of graduate school was a struggle, but Arti used her survival instincts and together, Arti and her daughter made it work.
Arti now lives in South Oak Park with her husband and three children, in a house they could only afford to buy thanks to the VA loan - a loan that is given to every veteran who serves in the Armed Forces. Arti works full-time in the tech sector as a Senior Product Manager at a nonprofit tech company. Her life experiences have seen her live through domestic and sexual violence, the opportunity gap, the school to military pipeline, and low-income single motherhood.
Oak Park is billed as a “progressive” and “integrated and diverse” town. But in the 10 years that Arti’s lived here, she’s seen how those words are just lip service used to make people feel better about their decision to move and live here.
Arti knows that we can and we must do better. Her fight for justice started when she was a child and is now continuing as she fights for Racial Equity in Oak Park. If any community in Illinois and in America can lead on Racial Equity, it can and should be Oak Park.
Arti began this campaign with a bold statement that she would run as a woman of color on a racial equity platform - something that people have said is too politically risky. The risk must be taken - for the ancestors that have fought for equity before us, and for the kids that are suffering because of inequities after us - the risk must be taken.
Our campaign is 100% grassroots run campaign. We’re not taking a dime from corporate PACs or machine politicians. This is a community-lead and community driven effort that came together to get Arti on the ballot. Now, let’s get Arti elected so that she can become the third woman of color ever to be elected to the Village Board, where she’ll fight for people like us - the renters, the single parents, and the people who represent the diversity of Oak Park.