Yashica Dutt has spent a decade covering arts, culture, and fashion in New Delhi. She has spent a lifetime hiding her Dalitness to pass as ‘upper’ caste until she ‘came out’ as Dalit in a Facebook note and wrote a book that’s part non-fiction, part-memoir and wholly a scathing account of how the caste system operates and affects Dalits in today’s India. Hint: brutally. Her work explores the intersection of caste, class, and gender and seeks to expose caste as ‘the invisible arm that turns the gears in nearly every system in India’. Dutt graduated from Columbia Journalism School and lives in New York. She is planning to soon release Coming Out as Dalit worldwide.
Coming Out as Dalit has received immense critical acclaim from the press and its readers and has been called an “eye opening contribution to Dalit literature” and a book that will likely play “a major role in influencing the millennial expression on being a Dalit.”
While we've been reflecting on Dalit history this month, we've also been looking at some of the incredible initiatives that our collaborators have been working on. Here are some amazing projects that pay tribute to and document the history of anti-caste movements - there’s music, there are relief efforts, as well as reading for these times.
Rapper and musician Sumeet Samos released Blue Suit Man, a homage to B.R. Ambedkar that takes you through his work and contributions, far beyond the constitution. Check it out here. Our friends from Yalgaar Sanskrutik Manch have performed akhands paying tribute to Jotiba Phule on their IGTV here. The wonderful Jyotsna Siddharth of ‘Project Anti-Caste, Love’ has compiled a reading list on Love x Sex x Caste. Check it out here. Add the incredible work from Aroh Akunth’s Dalit Art Archive and Dalit Queer Project to your Instagram feeds now. Follow them for everything from art and film screenings, to profiles of Dalit queer voices from law, politics, academia, art, activism and more. We’re so grateful for the digital-verse and the generosity of our talented collaborators for the writing, critical thought and art we’re able to access.
In these challenging times, our collaborators are also carrying out relief efforts to help communities cope with the often debilitating changes a pandemic brings. Grace Banu’s relief fund for vulnerable trans folk artists can be found here. You can click here to find the details to contribute to human rights activist Manjula Pradeep’s Wayve Foundation efforts. They are working to provide ration kits, medicines and other essential commodities to those in need. The Blue Dawn is a community initiative working to provide accessible mental health care to Bahujans - click here for their website, should you need to talk to someone.
We've also put together a list of all the insigthful discussions we've had at the Lab around caste and its intersections with sexuality, gender, labour, rights and other identities. You can check out the full list here.