March 25, 2023

Seattle has turn out to be the primary metropolis in the US to explicitly ban discrimination primarily based on caste,

The town council within the capital of Washington state voted on Tuesday night time so as to add caste, a hierarchical social system relationship again hundreds of years and practiced all through South Asia amongst individuals of all religions, to town’s anti-discrimination legal guidelines.

A number of rights teams supported the measure amid a push for caste discrimination to be explicitly acknowledged beneath pre-existing state and federal anti-discrimination legal guidelines, in addition to a number of high-profile lawsuits towards employers in industries with giant workforces from the South Asian diaspora.

In the meantime, a number of Hindu American teams have pushed again on the hassle, arguing such measures particularly goal and malign their neighborhood, and will discourage corporations from hiring Hindus in influential roles.

Seattle Caste
Aneelah Afzali, director of the American Muslim Empowerment Community, speaks within the Seattle Metropolis Council chambers [John Froschauer/AP Photo]

Metropolis council member Kshama Sawant, who proposed the ordinance, mentioned throughout Tuesday’s session that the measure doesn’t single out one neighborhood, however accounts for the way caste discrimination crosses nationwide and spiritual boundaries.

“Our motion has gained a historic, first-in-the-nation ban on caste discrimination in Seattle!” she tweeted on Tuesday. “Now we have to construct a motion to unfold this victory across the nation.”

Thenmozhi Soundararajan, government director of the Oakland, California-based Equality Labs, whose advocacy work together with neighborhood companions continues to push caste discrimination legal guidelines ahead, known as the council vote “a tradition warfare that has been gained”.

A 2016 survey by the group discovered that one in 4 Dalits within the US had confronted verbal or bodily assault and two out of each three mentioned that they had confronted discrimination at work.

“We obtained the assist of over 200 organizations from Seattle and across the nation … It is a highly effective message that Dalit individuals are not alone,” she mentioned, referring to the teams that falls on the backside of India’s advanced caste hierarchy, beforehand generally known as the “untouchables”, who’ve been the topic of discrimination and persecution for many years.

“The South Asian neighborhood has united to say we need to heal from the trauma of caste.”

The Coalition of Hindus of North America, in the meantime, had urged the council to not cross the measure, saying there was not sufficient analysis to justify the transfer.

The group has argued the ordinance “advances nothing however bigotry towards the South Asian neighborhood by utilizing racist, colonial tropes of ‘caste’. Additionally it is stunning to see the blatant singling out of a minority neighborhood primarily based on nothing however unsubstantiated claims primarily based on defective knowledge from hate teams.”

Seattle Council Member Sara Nelson, who solid the lone dissenting vote, agreed with the vocal minority of opponents at Tuesday’s assembly, calling the ordinance “a reckless, dangerous answer to an issue for which we’ve no knowledge or analysis”.

“This might generate extra anti-Hindu discrimination and will dissuade employers from hiring South Asians,” she mentioned. “The neighborhood that’s being impacted is deeply divided on this difficulty.”

The problem energized each supporters and opponents, with 300 individuals requesting to talk nearly or in particular person earlier than the vote. The council heard about half of these audio system earlier than transferring on to deliberations and the vote.

Yogesh Mane, a Seattle resident who grew up as a Dalit in India, broke into tears as he heard the council’s resolution.

“I am emotional as a result of that is the primary time such an ordinance has been handed anyplace on the planet outdoors of South Asia,” he informed The Related Press information company. “It is a historic second and a strong feeling when the regulation permits us to talk up about issues which might be incorrect.”

In the meantime, Sanjay Patel, a tech firm proprietor from the Seattle space, informed the AP he by no means felt discriminated towards within the US as a member of a decrease caste and that the ordinance pained him as a result of it reminded him of a caste identification, which he thought had turn out to be out of date.

“I concern, with this regulation, companies shall be afraid to rent South Asians,” he mentioned. “It should additionally have an effect on interpersonal relationships if neighborhood members begin viewing one another with a caste lens.”

Caste discrimination has been prohibited in India since 1948, a 12 months after the nation’s independence from British rule. Nonetheless, the bias persistsaccording to a number of research lately, together with one which discovered individuals from decrease castes have been underrepresented in higher-paying jobs.

The US is the second hottest vacation spot for Indians dwelling overseas, in keeping with the Migration Coverage Institute, which estimates the US diaspora grew from about 206,000 in 1980 to about 2.7 million in 2021.

The group South Asian People Main Collectively experiences that just about 5.4 million South Asians stay within the US – 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 US faculties and college methods have moved to explicitly prohibit To put in caste discrimination.

In December 2019, Brandeis College close to Boston turned the primary US faculty to incorporate caste in its nondiscrimination coverage. The California State College System, Colby Faculty, Brown College and the College of California, Davis have all adopted related measures.

Harvard College instituted caste protections for pupil employees in 2021 as a part of its contract with its graduate pupil union.

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