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What is Caste?

Caste is a social reality experienced by South Asians and the South Asian diaspora. While caste systems are often strongly associated primarily with South Asia, similar systems exist in regions including, but not limited to South America, Asia, and Africa.


The caste system consists of graded levels of alleged purity and places people within a certain hierarchy—leaving those in the lowest tier, called “Dalit” or “untouchable”, subject to abuse, attacks, and systemic social exclusion.

This severe system of historical violence has been carried over by the South Asian diaspora and currently affects nearly 5.7 million South Asian Americans. Caste is a structure of oppression that affects over 1 billion people across the world. Data from Equality Labs has found that 25% of Dalits have faced verbal or physical assault based on their caste.

Equality Labs’ researchers compile the latest data and news around caste to inform the broader public about this urgent civil rights issue.