Welcome to the Nikita Initiative

Me, Nikita Srivastava, wearing the Central Park Exonerated5 Shirt.

Hello Internet,

My name is Nikita Srivastava. I am an Indian woman who carries herself with the confidence of a heterosexual white male. Now, I don’t intentionally act like a white man. It kinda just happened. Apparently, if a woman demonstrates confidence in her abilities, intellect and strives for success, then she is acting like a white man. (Sorry, not sorry)

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Leon: Why He Helps Others

Leon Hampton and I are not best friends. However, we are people who greatly admire one another. Leon does not judge people by their successes or failures. Instead, he respects a person’s character and their inner mission. Leon is one of my dearest friends for one reason: we genuinely like the other’s character and believe each other.

Leon Hampton

Leon grew up in Harlem, New York. Raised by a strong, hard-working woman, Leon learned that “when there is a will, there is a way.” Leon saw his mother work several jobs at a time to make sure he had every opportunity to grow. And, he took advantage of all those opportunities. Leon learned the importance of hard-work at a very young age. He developed determination and perseverance quickly by embracing his Caribbean and Black American culture.

“So, why do you think we help others?” I asked him one day.

“Because it’s the human thing to do. It’s innate in us.” He replied. “It takes a lot of learned behavior to not help someone while they’re in pain, Nikki.” I found this to be true when I interviewed Leon. 

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Self-Care: More Than a Catchy Instagram Hashtag

As Lizzo sings in Good as Hell:

Lizzo (Image from billboard.com)

Woo child, tired of the bullshit
Go on dust your shoulders off, keep it moving
Yes Lord, tryna get some new shit
In there, swimwear, going to the pool shit
Come now, come dry your eyes
You know you a star, you can touch the sky
I know that it’s hard but you have to try
If you need advice, let me simplify

If he don’t love you anymore
Just walk your fine ass out the door

For me, this song represents accurate self-care. It’s more than just “treating yourself” by taking a spa day. Self-care means dusting yourself off and taking the first steps to find inner happiness. Self-care also requires a period of self-reflection: you must decide what’s best for you, and what you want in life. Self-care requires taking a step back from your crazy hectic life.

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Krishna: Why He Helps Others

Krishna Janakiram Mahadevan

Krishna Mahadevan instantly became one of my best friends in law school. Since we were two out of the four Indian students in our law school, we stuck together. However, our similar races only play a small part in our friendship. Both of us came to law school to become the best versions of ourselves to help others. 

“It takes a lifetime to be a good person, but only a second to be a bad person,” Krishna’s father told him one day. Krishna’s childhood centered around the idea of being a good person.

“Helping others is something I have been doing for much of my life, trying to embody [my father’s] motto,” Krishna told me one day. Having known Krishna for more than three years now, I can confidently say that he does embody the motto.

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Jamie: Why He Helps Others

As a junior in college, I thought I had life figured out. However, Dr. Jamie Longazel’s Law & Society class proved I didn’t.

Dr. Jamie Longazel (Image from udayton.edu)

I have had the honor and privilege to be taught by a man who passionately cares about what his students learn. As a self-declared “un-teacher,” Jamie has dedicated his life to challenging institutional norms and inspiring others to care about each other. His class taught me to look beyond what is presented to me and get my hands on all the research.

“Humans are wired to be social, Nikki,” Jamie explained, “we strongly need each other. All living things are co-dependent. That is why we help each other.”

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Ambitious, Driven, Vulnerable and Successful: All the Problem Heterosexual Women of Color Face While Dating

Waiting for someone to be the Nick Jonas to my Priyanka Chopra.

Image from memedriod.com

I am going to be frank: dating is the fucking worst. Relationships, however, are phenomenal (assuming that they’re healthy ones). I recognize that dating and/or arrange marriage (for my brown people) may be my only ways to get a healthy relationship. Now, your girl has been on a fair share of dates. I’ve tried casual dating, friends with benefits, and the serious committed relationships. Yet, I still find myself writing this blog to vent about the struggles of dating. 

After analyzing all of my relationships (including the casual ones), I noticed that my biggest problem is “being too ambitious, driven and successful.” These alone make me desirable for like a solid three weeks until the man I am with decides “I’m too good for him,” or “[my] life stresses [him] out.” The purpose of this blog post is to analyze why it’s difficult for heterosexual women of color to date and the difficulties of being vulnerable. 

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Rangoli, Diyas, and Dancing: My Diwali Traditions

Not gonna lie, my heart was in a dark place this Diwali. Actually, the entire month of October sucked.


For North Indian Hindus, Diwali symbolizes when Lord Ram defeated the Ravana, and when Lord Ram returned to his home kingdom. Simply put, Diwali symbolizes one’s journey through darkness to find the light which is my current situation. (Yes, I am comparing myself to a Hindu god. No, I am not being overly dramatic!) I’ll be studying for the February Bar Exam while my friends move on with their careers. They will be sworn-in as attorneys, while I hit the books. Although I know I am not the only one who failed, I still feel left behind. All of sudden, the light of the end of the road was pushed further away. Instead of walking toward the light, I am stuck in the same place watching the light move further away. However, my Diwali traditions motivated me to catch up to the light.

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Why We Help Others: My New Series

Coming soon to a phone screen near you!

Hi Internet,

I am starting a series called “Why We Help Others” to inspire others to create change and be charitable. I’ll be interviewing and collaborating with various organizations and people I find inspiring. The series will address the various reasons why people help others:

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The Only Nikita

Bryan Stevenson

Recently, I got to hear one of my heroes – Bryan Stevenson – speak at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati, Ohio for the Mary S. Stern Lecture series. His lecture recapped his recent cases and his book, Just Mercy. Stevenson has influenced my career. Through his client-centered representation, I learned how to be a better advocate. His book indirectly led me to my mentor and guru, David Allen Singleton, who contributed to many of my accomplishments. (They say the mentor is only as good as the mentee. And, by “they,” I mean me!) At first, I thought I’ll be the “next Stevenson” or “the next Singleton.” However, throughout my mentorship with Singleton, I learned that I am one of kind. I will be the first and only Nikita Srivastava!

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The Lies We Tell: Happy Indigenous People Day

Fuck Columbus Day.

After randomly selecting names from a hat in my 5th-grade social studies class, ten-year-old me discovered she had to play Christopher Columbus for the “explorers of the world” class. I remembered feeling overjoyed because everyone knew Columbus’ story, and everyone in the class envied me for getting Columbus (which was a bonus). I remember costume shopping with my mother and pouring chai on my notes to make them look periodic. My mother sat in the living room folding laundry as I practiced for hours “my Columbus act.” One could say that this performance sparked my interest in public speaking, however, I felt disgusted several years after it.

My teacher gave me an A+ on my presentation. My presentation was so good that she recorded it for future reference (I hope that tape went missing). During my presentation, I talked about how I, Columbus, was a hero. I’d discovered America, found a new race, and made friends with the “less fortunate.” I founded America – this was America’s great origin story. After that presentation, Columbus became a distant memory. In middle school, we did not discuss him ever again. However, he reappeared during my 11th-grade American History Class. 

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The Brothers Trust’s Dog Club and the Lunchbowl Network

How spoiling dogs brought children hot meals and women jobs.

Paddy, Harry, Tom, and Sam Holland. (Image from Pinterest.com)

Everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, Tom Holland, started a unique trust with his family. The Holland family created the Brothers Trust to support charities who struggle to be heard. Not only is the premise different, but the trust is family orientated. Brothers Trust was set up by Nikki and Dominic Holland, parents of the “brothers”: Tom, Harry, Sam and Paddy. Although Tom is the focal point, everyone in the family is involved. This is evident through their fundraising videos and social media campaigns. Tom may be the focal point, but his family is also gets recognition for their work. For example, Nikki Holland, takes all the photos for the site. And, Harry Holland, directed a short documentary showing the positive changes they are creating in Kibera, Nairobi. Armed with dedicated volunteers and their close friends, the Holland family is determined to run several events each year to raise awareness for smaller charities. The funds raised will then be granted to charities they support. (Let me tell you all, I am here for all of this! I’m huge a fan.)

Brothers Trust mission is twofold: first, they intend to shine a light on charities whose voices are drowned out by noisy and competitive non-profit sectors; second, they intend to maximize those charities efforts by using our generous donations. The Brothers Trust does not interfere with the structure of the charities they support. Rather, they act as an ally by helping them raise funds and spread awareness.

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