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Caste in the USA

News & Politics Podcasts

Firstpost is holding a series of conversations with Indians and Americans of Indian origin in the USA, from its campuses, offices and households, to understand how caste discrimination pervades the community just as much as it does back home in India. Hosted by Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Dalit rights activist, artist, technologist and executive director of Equality Labs, the podcast cracks taboos about caste among the Indian community in the USA.

Firstpost is holding a series of conversations with Indians and Americans of Indian origin in the USA, from its campuses, offices and households, to understand how caste discrimination pervades the community just as much as it does back home in India. Hosted by Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Dalit rights activist, artist, technologist and executive director of Equality Labs, the podcast cracks taboos about caste among the Indian community in the USA.

Location:

India

Description:

Firstpost is holding a series of conversations with Indians and Americans of Indian origin in the USA, from its campuses, offices and households, to understand how caste discrimination pervades the community just as much as it does back home in India. Hosted by Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Dalit rights activist, artist, technologist and executive director of Equality Labs, the podcast cracks taboos about caste among the Indian community in the USA.

Language:

English


Episodes

14: Casteism among South Asian Christians in the US

12/14/2020
"In Texas which is already a very red state, it is easy to fall into these kinds of patterns. I think in Malayali spaces which are these large Christian culture spaces that are very casteist and very exclusionary too, there is an invisible problem of caste there," says Vani, a Dalit Christian feminist from Texas who works on caste and gender issues. The most common notion around casteism in Christianity focuses on escaping the same post conversion. For the immigrant South Indian diaspora...

Duration:00:39:04

14: Casteism among South Asian Christians in the US

12/14/2020
"In Texas which is already a very red state, it is easy to fall into these kinds of patterns. I think in Malayali spaces which are these large Christian culture spaces that are very casteist and very exclusionary too, there is an invisible problem of caste there," says Vani, a Dalit Christian feminist from Texas who works on caste and gender issues. The most common notion around casteism in Christianity focuses on escaping the same post conversion. For the immigrant South Indian diaspora in...

Duration:00:39:04

13: How women's bodies are used to reinforce caste hierarchy

12/10/2020
"I still remember my dad telling me that it was fine for you to love but I just wished you loved a person from the same caste. And I guess that is when I saw that they are so deeply invested in caste. Before it was happening but it was implicit - it was not clear, there were actions and things that they were saying but now these are people that are telling me that I should marry a person from the same caste," says Priya from API Chaya, who we are in conversation with for this episode of the...

Duration:00:26:37

12: Caste hegemony in the tech world

12/7/2020
As someone who has worked at Microsoft and in the larger tech sector for 15 years, Raghav speaks of how caste plays out in tech through education, meritocracy, purity of food at workplaces and so on. Higher education access in India has always been limited to dominant caste circles, who then believe their entries to IIT and other top schools are based on being the 'best', as opposed to the privilege of generational wealth and other resources. This ignorance prevents them from speaking up...

Duration:00:34:56

11: A Brahmin woman's tryst with Savarna fragility

12/3/2020
For Priya, a Brahmin in the diaspora, critical anti-caste thinking came through reading Dr Ambedkar's work, forcing her to question the trauma inflicted by her community for generations, as well as her own complicity in maintaining it. What helped her as she discovered a systemic understanding of caste was self-examination and a desire to learn more, as well as a safe space to ask questions in. As many within the Indian diaspora take steps towards undoing casteism, savarna fragility (faux...

Duration:00:23:38

10: Challenging caste supremacy on social media

11/30/2020
"Because for a Savarna to do some kind of virtue signalling for the Blacks, they do not have a direct oppressor relationship, if it is rewarding then they would do it why not. But to be able to stand up for people oppressed by their own class, to stand up for reservation which is positive discrimination, to help people oppressed by the Savarna’s own class, it is not like this person is stupid doing a #BlackLivesMatter but not doing it for Dalits," says Prakash, a Savarna from the South Asian...

Duration:00:28:37

9: Caste in the art world: In conversation with Jaishri Abichandani

11/26/2020
In this episode of Caste In The USA, Thenmozhi Soundararajan speaks to internationally renowned curator and artist Jaishri Abichandani about the challenges involved in representing caste in the US and global art world. Jaishri highlights the difficulties in fighting for representation in the US art world. In terms of representation, the numbers are frighteningly low for South Asians in art. According to Jaishri, for every 100 artists in New York, only 0.2% are South Asian. The Dalit...

Duration:00:30:16

8: Casteism as I saw it: Dalit healthcare professionals from the US speak out

11/23/2020
“This incident happened just ten days ago. I want to bring this up as I have talked about a similar incident 14 years ago. The situation is the same now. I always, always avoid Indians at the workplace, Indians in a restaurant, Indians in any place I have to have a conversation with them because the conversation always goes in the wrong direction. So when I had to meet with an Indian physician in the middle of the pandemic, I had no choice. This Indian physician as soon as he entered, he...

Duration:00:29:37

7: The problem with privileged castes steering public policy: Benson Neethipudi explains

11/19/2020
“It needs to be understood that public policy, civil society, or international affairs, development sector, and international non-governmental agencies, this whole sector as such represents the pinnacle of privilege. It is actually a mirror of how caste works. It’s no surprise that when I am here in an Ivy League university who my classmates are. There are smart people, passionate people but for me, this is beyond passion. It's personal for us because the work we do as policymakers that will...

Duration:00:34:52

6: Navigating casteism at university, within Telugu diaspora and at IBM: In conversation with Suresh Attri

11/16/2020
~ I asked, ‘After you graduate would you care about your identity or would you reveal it if somebody is abusing Dalits in general?’ They said, ‘No, the Telugu community is very strong in the Tech circle. They will use this connection to get a job and if anybody in the Telugu community finds out they are Dalits, it is going to have major, major repercussions for their professional career as well.’ What was shocking to me was that, yes my peers were silently suffering casteist abuse by...

Duration:00:28:39

5: Social isolation as a result of caste in the diaspora

11/12/2020
Thenmozhi Soundarajan is back with a new episode of 'Caste In The USA', which focuses on social isolation as a result of entrenched caste networks in the diaspora. Speaking to Thenmozhi is Priyanka, a Dalit professional who has lived in the US for many years. Priyanka has witnessed conversations around caste being silenced since she immigrated there as a high school student. "My first interactions with the diaspora was with Indians who were in the foreign service. And down south it...

Duration:00:22:04

4: Dalit Women in Tech: In conversation with Maya Kamble

11/9/2020
When it comes to women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), the inherent gendered bias is all too evident from the start. So for a Dalit woman, the process gets that much harder, because not only is she battling gender, she is also battling caste, where her perpetrators can be from any gender. In the fourth episode of Caste In The USA, Thenmozhi Soundarajan talks to Maya Kamble, one of the first women to enter the technical foray in the Valley. As an Ambedkarite...

Duration:00:28:00

3: Caste from the lens of the caste privileged: A Brahmin’s journey

11/5/2020
“You are told from very early on that as a Brahmin man you are ‘the best of the best’, and so everyone else is basically subordinate to you. You are told that you are part of this special group of people and this is exactly how the world is supposed to be, wherein you are at the top of hierarchy which they say is primarily driven by the fact that you have good karma from your previous lives and that is why you were born a Brahmin," says Shambhu on how caste supremacy was imbued in him from...

Duration:00:32:12

2: Testimony of Sam Cornelius, a Dalit technologist working in the US

11/2/2020
Sam Cornelius is a Dalit technologist with years of experience working in multinational tech companies, both in India and in the USA. In the second episode of the podcast 'Caste in the USA', Thenmozhi Soundararajan speaks to Sam about his experience of casteism, from IIT in Mumbai to large tech companies in the USA.

Duration:00:48:01

1: An introduction

10/29/2020
"Caste doesn't just impact the caste-oppressed, caste impacts all of us," says host Thenmozhi Soundararajan in the opening episode of ‘Caste in the USA’, a podcast which brings to light experiences of caste discrimination in the USA. This episode reiterates why the need of the hour is to increase conversation around the topic of caste in the diaspora, which is otherwise considered taboo or brushed aside as a conversation which will shame Indian culture in front of...

Duration:00:14:17