Calls to outlaw discrimination primarily based on caste, a division of individuals primarily based on start or descent, have grown louder amongst South Asian diaspora communities within the United States. But the motion is getting pushback from some Hindu Americans who argue that such laws maligns a selected group.
Proponents of the ordinance that was permitted by a 6-1 vote Tuesday say caste discrimination crosses nationwide and spiritual boundaries and that with out such legal guidelines, these dealing with caste discrimination within the U.S. can have no protections.
The ordinance is a contentious problem, particularly among the many nation’s South Asian diaspora. Supporters argue it’s wanted as a result of caste just isn’t coated below current civil rights protections. Groups opposing the measure say it’ll malign a group that’s already the goal of prejudice.
Council Member Kshama Sawant, a socialist and the one Indian American on the City Council, mentioned the ordinance, which she proposed, doesn’t single out one group, nevertheless it accounts for a way caste discrimination crosses nationwide and spiritual boundaries.
Activists on totally different sides of the problem started arriving in Seattle properly forward of Tuesday’s metropolis council assembly. As early as final week, greater than 100 individuals had put in requests to talk on the assembly. Early Tuesday, a number of activists braved chilly temperatures and wind gusts to line up outdoors City Hall so they might get an opportunity to talk to the council earlier than the vote. But the council restricted public remark on the assembly.
The origins of the caste system in India could be traced again 3,000 years as a social hierarchy primarily based on one’s occupation and start. It is a system that has advanced over the centuries below Muslim and British rule. The struggling of those that are on the backside of the caste pyramid — often called Dalits — has continued. Caste discrimination has been prohibited in India since 1948, a yr after the nation’s independence from British rule.
Dalit activists from Seattle and past rallied at Seattle City Hall in assist of the ordinance, mentioned Thenmozhi Soundararajan, founder and govt director of California-based Equality Labs.
The U.S. is the second hottest vacation spot for Indians dwelling overseas, in keeping with the Migration Policy Institute, which estimates the U.S. diaspora grew from about 206,000 in 1980 to about 2.7 million in 2021. The group South Asian Americans Leading Together studies that just about 5.4 million South Asians dwell within the U.S. — up from the three.5 million counted within the 2010 census. Most hint their roots to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Over the previous three years, a number of schools and college methods have moved to ban caste discrimination.
In December 2019, Brandeis University close to Boston grew to become the primary U.S. school to incorporate caste in its nondiscrimination coverage. The California State University System, Colby College, Brown University and the University of California, Davis have all adopted related measures. Harvard University instituted caste protections for pupil staff in 2021 as a part of its contract with its graduate pupil union.
The Seattle measure had the assist of Dalit activist-led organizations like Equality Labs and others. The teams say caste discrimination is prevalent in diaspora communities manifesting itself within the type of social alienation and discrimination in housing, training and the tech sector the place South Asians maintain key roles.
Opposition to the ordinance got here from teams such because the Hindu American Foundation and the Coalition of Hindus of North America who say it unnecessarily singles-out a group already weak to discrimination within the U.S.
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