For readers of Caste and Radical Dharma, an urgent call to action to end caste apartheid, grounded in Dalit feminist abolition and engaged Buddhism.
"Dalit" is the name that we chose for ourselves when Brahminism declared us "untouchable." Dalit means broken. Broken by suffering. Broken by caste: the world's oldest, longest-running dominator system...yet although "Dalit" means broken, it also means resilient.
Caste--one of the oldest systems of exclusion in the world--is thriving. Despite the ban on Untouchability 70 years ago, caste impacts 1.9 billion people in the world. Every 15 minutes, a crime is perpetrated against a Dalit person. The average age of death for Dalit women is just 39. And the wreckages of caste are replicated here in the U.S., too--erupting online with rape and death threats, showing up at work, and forcing countless Dalits to live in fear of being outed.
Dalit American activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan puts forth a call to awaken and act, not just for readers in South Asia, but all around the world. She ties Dalit oppression to fights for liberation among Black, Indigenous, Latinx, femme, and Queer communities, examining caste from a feminist, abolitionist, and Dalit Buddhist perspective--and laying bare the grief, trauma, rage, and stolen futures enacted by Brahminical social structures on the caste-oppressed.
Soundararajan's work includes embodiment exercises, reflections, and meditations to help readers explore their own relationship to caste and marginalization--and to step into their power as healing activists and changemakers. She offers skills for cultivating wellness within dynamics of false separation, sharing how both oppressor and oppressed can heal the wounds of caste and transform collective suffering. Incisive and urgent, The Trauma of Caste is an activating beacon of healing and liberation, written by one of the world's most needed voices in the fight to end caste apartheid.
The Trauma of Caste: A Dalit Feminist Meditation on Survivorship, Healing, and Abolition; Thenmozhi Soundararajan; North Atlantic Books; Paperback; 296 pages; $18.95
Thenmozhi Soundararajan is a Dalit American artist, organizer, technologist, and theorist. Currently, Thenmozhi is the Executive Director of Equality Labs, one of the largest Dalit civil rights organizations working to empower caste-oppressed people in the US and globally. Through her work at Equality Labs, Thenmozhi has mobilized South Asian Americans towards dismantling eons-long systems of oppression, with the goal of ending caste apartheid, gender-based violence, white supremacy, and religious intolerance.
Her intersectional, cross-pollinating work--research, education, art, activism, and digital security--helps to create a more generous, global, expansive, and inclusive definition of South Asian identity, along with safe spaces from which to honor the stories of these communities. Thenmozhi's work has been recognized by the U.S. Congress, The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, The Producers Guild of America Diversity Program, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Sorbonne, Source Magazine, Utne Reader, The National Center for the Humanities, and The National Science Foundation. She is a frequent contributor on issues related to South Asia, caste, gender, and racial Equity, as well interfaith issues and peace building, and has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Guardian, ABC, and NBC news. She was also an inaugural fellow of the Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist, Atlantic Foundation for Racial Equity, and is a current fellow at Stanford Center for South Asian Studies. You can order her new book The Trauma of Caste from North Atlantic Books to learn more about her work around caste equity, abolition, and healing. Find her on her socials @dalitdiva or Equality Labs at @equalitylabs