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Historic Santa Clara Human Rights Commission Hearing Takes Place

Santa Clara, CA – The Santa Clara Human Rights Commission last week heard several testimonials from Dalit, Bahujan, and allied communities demanding caste protections for Santa clara residents under California discrimination law. This resolution is part of a growing chorus of students, workers, and communities fighting to end caste in the USA.

Equality Labs’ Executive Director, T S, said:

“This is a movement rooted in love, hope, and empathy. I’m incredibly proud of the inter-faith, inter-caste coalition of Dalit and allied organizers who spoke up and provided their testimony during this hearing. We mobilized quickly and effectively because we know that this is a watershed moment for anti-caste solidarity. For thousands of years, Dalit and Bahujan people have been rendered voiceless by casteism, but as the number of Dalit people in the US grows, so does their political will to topple caste supremacy.

“Despite how meaningful this hearing is to Dalit and other caste oppressed people, there has been vehement opposition to this resolution on the basis that it singles out Hindus. Not only are such claims easily disproved by a look into the thousands-year history of caste across the South Asian diaspora, but it is there in every religious community in the South Asian Diaspora. That is why we had such a powerful set of Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and Jewish Dalits and allies who are aligned in understanding the battle for caste equity is a human rights issue that all faiths are united in understanding. . In reality, this opposition has been a vocal and malicious effort to destabilize anti-caste organizing in the US. The level of mobilization in resistance to merely adding protection for caste oppressed people speaks to the need for these protections.

“It’s incredibly meaningful that this hearing has taken place during Dalit History Month, when we celebrate the resilience of caste-oppressed communities around the world. Our campaign to secure anti-discrimination protections related to caste in universities, nonprofits, and corporations is to fight in the legacy of Ambedkarite movements to end caste supremacy across the world.”

Quote from a testimony by M, a nonbinary Dalit person:

“If you are committed to anti-racism & to protecting queer and transgender people, then please also commit to anti-caste policies because these are all systemically connected & many of us exist at these intersecting identities. Please show queer Dalits like myself that you care about our rights & that we deserve protection against caste based discrimination.”

Quote from Sahiba, a Sikh organizer:

“I am calling on my fellow caste priviledged community to mobilize against caste-based discrimination. I am calling on my community to collectively take ownership of the human rights violations that we are upholding through our complicity in caste-based discrimination. I am calling on my community to understand how casteism and caste-based discrimination is not only a human rights issue, but more importantly for us, a Sikh issue. And hence, it becomes our responsibility as Sikhs to mobilize against caste-based discrimination through fighting in support of caste-based protections, particularly through supporting the addition of caste in the anti-discrimination policies of American institutions.”