Solidarity Statement in Support of Dalit and Caste Oppressed Communities

Solidarity Statement in Support of Dalit and Caste Oppressed Communities

Solidarity Statement

The Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CEETL) condemns all forms of caste-based discrimination and expresses solidarity with Dalit and caste oppressed communities who continue to fight against the violence of Brahminism and caste apartheid. Brahminism is a graded system of inequality based on caste with its origins in South Asia. Upheld through notions of purity and pollution, caste is one of the oldest systems of oppression. It is not isolated to a single faith, but is found across multiple faith communities, including Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Muslim, Jain, and Christian communities. Caste is also entrenched globally, practiced across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, as well as impacting the Indo-Caribbean, Indo-Fijian, and Indo-African diaspora. Although the focus of this statement, and the resources below, are on South Asian and South Asian diasporic communities, it is important to note that structures of Caste impact communities across Asia, Africa, and Latin American, with examples being the Burakumin communities in Japan and Osu communities in Igboland.

In the U.S., despite Brahminism predating the institutionalization of anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, and white cisheteropatriarchy by over 2,000 years, there has long been silence on caste and caste discrimination in North American academia due to the dominance of caste privileged and complicit scholars. The strategic silencing of caste has allowed caste discrimination to flourish across American institutions. According to a 2016 survey by Dalit civil rights organization Equality Labs, 1 in 3 Dalit students reported being discriminated against during their education, 2 out of 3 Dalit respondents reported being treated unfairly at their workplace, and 3 out of 5 Dalit respondents reported experiencing caste-based derogatory jokes or comments. The prevalence of caste was further corroborated by a recent survey administered by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that concluded that roughly half of all Hindu Indian Americans identify with a caste group, with more than eight in ten surveyed belonging to a dominating caste.

Given the prevalence of caste oppression, institutions across the country have started to add caste as a protected category in anti-discrimination policies in order to ban caste-based discrimination, create a channel for reporting, and institute measures of support for survivors. Brandeis University, Colby College, UC Davis, and Brown University, for example, are a few of the many institutions that have successfully added caste. After the passage of resolutions across the CSU, and with support from the California Faculty Association (CFA) and the California State Student Association (CSSA), the California State University became the largest 4-year public university in the nation to add caste as a protected category in January 2022.

Joining the growing anti-caste civil rights movement, CEETL is committed to breaking the silence on caste, and making legible the interconnections between caste supremacy, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, and cisheteropatriarchy. We condemn any and all forms of retaliation, harassment, discrimination, gaslighting, and harm that Dalit and caste oppressed peoples face when they come out, or are forced out, about their identity. We support our Dalit and caste oppressed students, staff, and faculty who: continue to live in the closet about their caste identity to protect themselves against caste-based violence, those who are in the forefront of organizing against these structures of violences despite and alongside the risks associated, and those living in the constant stress associated with their families and loved ones in danger, particularly when the families and loved ones are living under caste-based, Islamophobic, and anti-Indigenous occupations, like that of Kashmir, Mizoram, Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, and Sikkim.

We work towards a day when all systems of oppressions are dismantled, to be replaced with structures of safety and agency that leave no space for fear. To further conversations on accountability and how to promote social equality, we have compiled a list of resources that we hope might be generative.


CEETL, in partnership with SFSU community members who support the anti-caste movement, has prepared this teaching resource guide to support you in your teaching. 

Please note: This teaching guide is available as a living document and we encourage all community members to continually contribute new resources by contacting us. This webpage will be updated on an ongoing basis to reflect newly curated resources, and categories will be expanded/revised as needed.

Caste Teaching Resource


What is Caste?

  • Caste is a structure of oppression that assigns one a caste at birth alongside a level of spiritual purity or pollution and determines one’s access to resources and opportunities. There are thousands of castes, stratified in a graded manner to be more pure than the castes underneath. Two communities are considered to be outside of caste, namely Adivasi communities who are the Indigenous peoples of South Asia, and Dalit communities, formerly and pejoratively referred to as "Untouchable," who continue to face discrimination and violence. Please review the resources shared below to learn more.

How can we commit to ethical engagement?

* adapted from "Ethics of Engagement" published by the National Academic Coalition for Caste Equity for the 2022 Caste in Higher Education Conference*

  • Dalit, Muslim, caste oppressed, religious minority, Black, and Indigenous peoples and their knowledges and experiences have and continue to be appropriated by white and dominating caste scholars for publications and to further their personal and professional goals. Instead, we invite you to actively practice self awareness and challenge dominant thinking that capitalizes on Black, Indigenous, caste oppressed, and religiously minority peoples, knowledges, and experiences.
  • Invest in supporting, centering, platforming, and financing Dalit, Muslim, Black, Indigenous, caste oppressed, and religiously minoritized knowledge, art, research production, and community building.
  • Investigate the close relationship between academic positions of power and caste positionalities that uphold structures of brahminism, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, and settler colonialism.
  • Some possible questions of inquiry: Who do we hire? Who do we support writing on caste and other topics? Who do we publish? Who do we invite as speakers on campus? Who do we platform and uplift? Who are the scholars in our network?


Educational Resources

a lecture series hosted by South Asian Scholars and Activists Solidarities (SASAS) and Dalit Bahujan Adivasi Vimukta Women, Trans and Non-binary People’s Collective in collaboration with Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

created by coalition at UC Davis: Critical Caste Reading Group Syllabus

Contact Us to Contribute to These Resources

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