Yashica Dutt Profile picture
Author, Coming out as Dalit. MA Arts & Culture Grad @ColumbiaJourn, Founder https://t.co/n3CyZvVU9t. Amazon link: https://t.co/goSCmYpYJt
11 May
A Hindu sect with close ties to the ruling party got Dalit labor workers on false pretenses to the US to build a temple

Only to pay them $1/day, seize their passports & keep them locked up in inhuman conditions.

Is this the Hinduphobia they speak of?

nytimes.com/2021/05/11/nyr…
Kudos to Swati Sawant, the fierce Dalit immigrant lawyer, who organized legal teams & highlighted this case.

Caste discrimination and exploitation of labor are inherently linked

And a poor understanding of caste in the US leaves more Dalit workers vulnerbale to exploitation.
“They were forbidden to talk to visitors...their pay was docked for minor violations, such as being seen without a helmet”

“They were asked to sign several documents,often in English, & instructed to tell US embassy staffers that they were skilled carvers or decorative painters”
Read 5 tweets
11 May
As someone who spent decades tormented by this word, a Savarna actress casually describing being ‘ugly’/‘unclean’/‘unpresentable’ by calling it Bhangi is not surprising.

Neither is the reaction of those who don’t seem to find any issue with using the name of a caste as a slur.
It’s a reflection of the deep tentacles of the caste system that so endemically normalizes a caste being seen as lower that it is turned into a synonym for dirty.

It shows the complete acceptance of the idea that Bhangis, one of the lowest paid people are inherently unclean.
It is this fully established understanding that allows the actress @moonstar4u to mean exactly what she did when she said Bhangi

to be understood in the exact way she intended

and then turn around to say that it was ‘misinterpreted’.
Read 4 tweets
27 Apr
This is a harrowing time for the entire country.

But it’s crucial to remember, even in a pandemic casteism never takes a break.

The IIT Kharagpur prof who berated an entire class of SC/ST/OBC + PwD students as ‘bloody bastards’ was apparently Covid+.

But that didn’t stop her.
She continued to use her hyper nationalism (not ‘standing up for the national anthem’) to lash out on ‘quota’ students in her English class, where she gets to determine whether they even make it to any of the IITs next year.

This is how casteism opeates in university spaces
It’s not just the usage of casteist slurs or telling students they don’t belong

It’s also constant harassment of those who avail reservation by UC profs to remind them of their ‘place’ in the system.

It’s calling them + their parents ‘bloody bastards’ in an English class.
Read 8 tweets
10 Mar
Since calling out HAF for their motion in the Cisco case, a lot of seemingly Hindu Americans are ‘enraged’ about Dalits pointing out the obvious caste discrimination that happens to us.

Aside from the abuse, bullying & trolling, the worst are those trying to obfuscate the issue.
The ones who know how to skillfully shut down any call outs for casteism by waving their flag of religious freedom

Something that understandably scares most non-Indian Americans into silence

In the name of preserving religious sanctity they want to gag even the mention of caste
Like they did in 2016 in the California textbook case, where HAF argued that mentions of caste should be removed. And succeeded.

This idea of obfuscating caste by citing religious freedom is that is highly strategic, well thought & not an accident.

nytimes.com/2016/05/06/us/…
Read 4 tweets
9 Mar
Despite obvious signs,many Indians still don’t believe that caste discrimination in the US is a lived reality for Dalits.

Wonder what they’d say to the Dalit couple who had ‘achoot’ - a slur for untouchable, scratched on their car while living in an Indian community in New York?
Or to the Sikh gurudwara in a Queens neighborhood who has faced multiple ‘VIOLENT’ attacks for displaying a photo of none other than Dr Ambedkar.

How is this response any different from the discrimination that we as Dalits suffer from ‘upper’ caste communities?
As we await the historic ruling from the California court in the Cisco case, let’s focus on the ‘double discrimination’ of Dalits.

We not only have to prove our injustice but also explain that caste exists, a reality effectively obscured by the ‘upper’ caste majority in the US.
Read 5 tweets
29 Sep 20
Imagine being a Dalit woman today.

You’re still mourning the brutal lesson in caste supremacy from 2006 Khairlanji, when a girl, her mother were paraded naked, raped & murdered.

And you hear another Dalit teen succumbed to the same brutality by ‘upper’ caste men, the same day.
You know police refused to file a report both times.

The Media ignored, until Dalits agitated, forced them to listen.

Then organized panels inviting upper caste women to discuss how ‘rape is a social evil’.

People registered shock, wondered how this happened, then moved on.
Forgetting this total control is what Dalit bodies are sanctioned for.

You realize between then & now, not much has changed

Even as a Dalit woman in India is raped once every 8 hours

As ‘upper’ caste men rape Dalit women for days, knowing most likely they won’t be punished.
Read 5 tweets
17 Sep 20
Reading @Isabelwilkerson’s Caste was an education in the racial heiarchy of the US. Her lucid writing & brilliance shines so powerfully that I often had to stop just to catch my breath.

But the book largely overlooks the current impact of a system that inspires its argument.
My review for @ForeignPolicy
Wilkerson’s Caste not only makes visible the plainly manifest yet stubbornly obscured reality of racial suppression of African Americans but also supplies other people of color with a vocabulary to understand their place in the lattice of racial and social order in the US.
Read 5 tweets
3 Jul 20
When researching Coming Out as Dalit, I often struggled to understand how exactly did 'upper' castes subterfuge caste discrimination as nonexistent not only in our society but internationally.

After spending 3 hours with @surajyengde's EXCELLENT treatise, I finally know. 1/n
They did that by dominating almost ALL positions of power and foreign policy, effectively eliminating Ambedkar, & nitpicking on the differences between Caste & Race to exclude it from international attention.

Why solidarity b/w Dalit Panthers & Black Panthers? This! 2/n
As we stand today in a crucial moment of America recokning (once again) of its racist origins, it's vital for Dalit and Black solidarity to take shape.

We NEED to counter the decades-long propoganda (which even Indians believe) that Caste is somehow not as savage as race 3/n
Read 5 tweets
10 Jun 20
Here’s why:

1. Dalit issues are not ‘mainstream’ enough for folks to care about. Our issues are too distant, too other to deserve attention.

2. The ‘few handles’ who speak about them are margiznalized as ‘Dalit writers’ who sole task is to do the emotional labor of outrage.
3. Dalit murders — for entering temples, for falling in love,for a mustache, for existing — are so routine & ‘expected’ that our deaths are the norm, not the exception.

4. The idea that mainstream = upper class, ‘upper’ caste lives is innate. So our deaths are forever the other.
It’s also easier for UCs to side with #BLM while ignoring Dalit, Adivasi, Muslim, working class lives is coz Black folks have been doing the difficult work of fighting for their right to be worthy for years.

Now the rest can just ride on the coattails of that ‘cool’ woke vibes.
Read 4 tweets
17 Apr 20
‘Comic’ #AtulKhatri called #RangoliChandel a ‘Chandaal’ for her genocide inducing tweet

With a history of using Dalit caste names as slurs, he is:

1. Equating a proto-fascist bigot w/ an entire community of oppressed ppl

2. Creating more caste-hatred for Chandaals than exists
That using a caste name as a slur is not ok should be common sense. But for casteist bigots who need schooling...

It reduces the humanity of a whole section of people to a curse, creating a false idea that it's valid to 'abuse' a Chandaal or a Bhangi -- verbally & physically
Every time someone says 'You look like a Bhangi' when calling lack of hygiene or 'Don't be a chamaar' for 'ill-manners,' validates & reinforces the 'lowerness' of Dalits, directly leading to their oppression including violence. It also makes Dalits (kids) feel invalid/unworthy.
Read 5 tweets
16 Apr 20
While the rest (most) of the world is figuring out how to combat the deadly virus and get through it as safely and quickly possible to mitigate the effects of a near-guaranteed global recession.

But in India

The Pandemic is Weaponized.

Here's how

1/n
Communalized:

Use selective testing & sampling bias. Hyper-focus on one incident + direct a dog-walked genocidal media to synonymize Muslims with the virus (days after murderous anti-Muslim riots in the capital.

Rinse, repeat. Definitely ignore this.

news18.com/news/india/def…
Caste brutalized:

Create trumped-up charges, jail Dalit academics standing between u, a meatier Dalit vote & turning Ambedkar into an RSS mouthpiece. To inevitably wither from COVID in stuffy prison cells.

But shield Hindutva goons behind the violence

scroll.in/article/892601…
Read 7 tweets
14 Apr 20
"It's because he was, that's why we are"

As we celebrate #AmbedkarJayanti it's crucial to remember that amidst the caste bias, neglect & apathy

The moth-eaten books, forgotten lectures & glossed-over legacy tucked into 20 words in textbooks

Dalits kept his spirit alive
Scorned by savarnas for crowding roads, derided by academics for 'hero worship', for many Dalits born into a religion that deemed them filthy& untouchable, Ambedkar is closest to a mythical figure

A singular leader who fought for rights that changed the course for generations.
If his life story, his ambition, his drive to study for 20 hours a day are folklore for some of us, that's because that's the only myth where instead of humiliated outcastes or crafty thieves, we were represented as equals, and as the centre of our own stories.
Read 5 tweets
2 Mar 20
The diabolical swiftness of anti- Muslim pogrom proved this.

The govt behaves with assumed impunity that no one outside India will notice.

But thanks to the courageous journalism & the footage, images, videos that we could circulate, this time the world is not ignoring. 1/n
The Atlantic said unequivocally -- What Happened in Delhi was a Pogrom

theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/… 2/n
The BBC directly linked the pogrom to the previous one in Gujarat

bbc.com/news/world-asi…

3/n
Read 15 tweets
25 Feb 20
In a series of dark days, yesterday was among the darkest.

As world’s eyes are on India, those of us outside NEED to amplify narratives that highlight this👇🏽

Not the Taj, not Obama’s Gandhi Ashram entry, but THIS bald, stark Hindu hate that’s baying for the blood of our people. Image
Journalists were told not to cover the brutality because ‘finally the Hindu had risen’.

Those didn’t comply were asked to ‘prove’ they weren’t Muslim — by insisting to pull their pants down.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/are…
Rioters, fundamentalists, foot soldiers played music, chanted ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and cheered in glee, while proudly claiming to having given ‘freedom to a Muslim man’ — objectively by beating him mercilessly.

Read 7 tweets
20 Feb 20
In Maharashtra a Dalit mother & her 7 yr old daughter are RAPED, KILLED & tossed into a well.

In Rajasthan, a Dalit man is brutally sodomized w/ a SCREWDRIVER + KEROSENE.

These are only ones we’ve heard about.

Dalits are assaulted, raped, killed almost daily. Time to ask why
Why do UCs feel they can get away with assaulting raping killing Dalits

Coz stats show they do — often.

Why do they feel emboldened to not just kill but kill with such senseless brutality that it chills your spine

Coz society has taught them that Dalits are subhuman.
Why don’t they just rape, murder, kill but often parade their victims with heinous glee/make videos of it for the world to see?

Coz they are setting an example.

They are reminding us of our place at the bottom for the caste system.
Read 4 tweets
17 Nov 19
Dalit books need and deserve a western audience, more urgently than ever — If nothing else than to understand/explain India in 2019.

Unfortunately, western publishers (incl & esp US based) have a hard time believing that.

The subcontinent still carries an ‘exotic’ myth 1/n
So many conversations I have in the US hover around proving the veracity and validity of caste in Indian societies in 2019; both in India and globally

For that alone, the ‘idea of India’ needs to expand beyond ‘dark skinned women photographed in red outfits on book covers’ 2/n
As progressive and internationalist Western publishing is, caste + the Dalit identity is still considered a ‘small scale internal issue’.

Often stemming from the lack of understanding how caste runs EVERTHING in India.

3/n
Read 7 tweets
25 Sep 19
NYT's Roger Cohen wrote a column declaring not to mess with Modi in Texas

That 'despite the human rights abuse in Kashmir' he is going to transform India

@NewYorker's @IChotiner basically hangs him to dry & (almost) renege on his opinion in this brilliant interview >>>
@NewYorker @IChotiner Ch: But what is the knee-jerk liberal reaction to being upset by right-wing movements—

Co: No, no, there is nothing wrong with being upset at all. But to make the perfect enemy of the good, to write this man off, to write Modi off, I am not ready to do that. >>>
@NewYorker @IChotiner Co: I think he is changing India in some very important and positive ways.

Ch: Such as?

Co: He is modernizing it. He’s taking the country forward.

CH:What does that mean?
🙃
Read 4 tweets
31 May 19
I wrote this after #RohithVemula's death. It's not entirely surprising that it remains as relevant today after Dr #PayalTadvi's institutional murder when people are still asking if caste really exists in India.

huffingtonpost.in/yashica-dutt-/…
1. Be aware of your confirmation bias
If you've never experienced caste-based discrimination first hand, you'll simply tend to assume that it doesn't exist. Because that's not your lived experience. But for millions of Dalits, it is their everyday reality. So listen to them. 1/9
2. Learn the history
Try to educate yourself about the exact nature of the caste-based oppressions that are being discussed, because our textbooks don't tell us enough. Figure out for yourself why the reservation and the quota system were needed in the first place. 2/9
Read 11 tweets
14 Apr 19
This #AmbedkarJayanti I urge everyone to read Ambedkar. Especially if you are Dalit & still searching for your identity/place in the world. Nothing will fill you w/ more pride, confidence & a total zeal to take on the world than reading how he talks about our place in the world.
As Dalits, it's not always easy to access Ambedkar. Esp when it risks revealing the identity we've carefully hidden from the world + when reading/displaying/associating w/Ambedkar can come w/ rejection, discrimination and even violence. #AmbedkarJayanti
If you're Dalit & have never read Ambedkar don't do it simply coz he was a 'Dalit leader' (he was an Indian statesman who was Dalit & led everyone)

Or coz everyone is telling you how imp he is (facts)

Do it coz no one else will tell you that you are not lesser than anyone else
Read 5 tweets
3 Jan 18
Been laying low on the violent attacks on Dalits peacefully gathered at #BhimaKoregaon that resulted in extensive damage to Dalit property & the death of a young man. Dalit history has prepared us for this exact outcome several times, be it Mahar Satyagrah or Nagpur Temple Entry
Each time Dalit assert themselves or show pride in their history, UCs retaliate with violence.

The only difference this time, Dalits decided to collectively exhibit just what could result if the abuse of 25% of country's population is constantly ignored.
If #MumbaiBandh and the 'inconvenience' of thousands of people is what it takes for UCs and mainstream media to pay attention to Dalit violence and abuse, then perhaps that's how last resorts look like.
Read 4 tweets
29 Jun 17
Dalit brothers who belong to a caste so poor they eat dead mice were lynched in Bihar for the suspicion of stealing hindustantimes.com/india-news/tak…
Predictable reactions from people who either find nothing wrong with lynch mobs or don't understand the concept of systemic injustice follow
1. Villagers didn't know they were Dalit but only treated them as thieves - False, since most Dalits are forced to live outside the village
Read 8 tweets