Inspired by the resurgence of the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the US recently, Dalit campaigners have asked people in our country to speak up on why #DalitLivesMatter.
Many feel this is the right time to talk about the issues our country is facing and speak up against the oppression the Dalit community continues to face in our country.
The movement has also been spurred on by the news of recent killings which depict the ugly side of caste-based violence in the country. Recently, a 17-year-old Dalit boy was shot dead in Uttar Pradesh’s Amroha. The reason? Some upper-caste boys were allegedly unhappy that he had entered a temple to offer his prayers.
Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident. Despite laws that punish caste-based discrimination, several communities in our country have suffered discrimination, stereotyping and systematic oppression over the years.
The Dalit community is one of them. According to Amnesty International, 65% of the hate crimes in the country targeted the Dalit community, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In the last decade, crimes against Dalits went up by 25%.
At a time when Dalit voices are speaking up and bringing to light the injustice they have faced since centuries, it is important to stand in solidarity with them. While all lives matter, it is also important to stand against caste-based oppression, which has been plaguing our country for years.
Also, it is important that the right voices are amplified in the movement. It is important to read, understand and listen to those that have encountered the hurdles the community faces.
So if you’re one who’s looking to learn more about the #DalitLivesMatter movement and what is it all about, here’s our resource list of the same
Essential Readings That Will Help You Understand Why #DalitLivesMatter
The list will help you understand the Dalit community better. It will allow you to look at things from their point of view, become aware of their journey and struggles and the viewpoints they have.
Annihilation Of Caste By Br Ambedkar – What better way to learn about the Dalit community than from BR Ambedkar himself? Annihilation of Caste is an undelivered speech by the social reformer which was written in 1936. The speech in question is one that Ambedkar was expected to deliver on the caste system in India but was later prevented from doing so because it was considered to objectionable. The speech was later self-published by the author.
The Weave of My Life: A Dalit Woman's Memoirs By Urmila Pawar – The book by award-winning author Urmila Pawar offers an insight into the lives of Dalit women living in India. It recounts the story of 3 generations of Dalit women and the struggles they face while trying to overcome the burden of their caste placed on them by the society
Coming Out As A Dalit: A Memoir By Yashica Dutt – This one is for all who think that caste and creed no longer plays a role in modern India. In this book, a New York journalist decides to reveal her Dalit roots to her friends and colleagues after hiding it for over a decade. It is an empowering story of coming to terms with your identity and gives an insight into the minds of Dalits who despite more than 70 years of independence, are still scared to openly identify themselves as Dalit. Through her book, she addresses several issues such as the need for reservation, lack of access to education to the community, the dearth of Dalit voices in mainstream media and much more.
When I Hid My Caste By Baburao Bagul – Often regarded as “the epic of Dalits”, the book is a collection of short stories. Each story recounts the horror, pain and rage experienced by the Dalit community. By covering the lives of the section of the society that lives on the margins, such as sex workers, street vendors, and slum dwellers, the author explores the concept of what it is like being an outsider in a rigid society
Movies To Watch
If you’re not a reader, you could watch these movies to develop a better understanding of the caste system and the social hierarchy the Dalit community finds itself in.
Fandry – A Marathi film that covers the dark realities of caste-based discrimination in rural Maharashtra, Fandry is the story about a young Dalit’s love for an upper-caste girl. Directed by Nagraj Manjule, a Dalit himself, the film is an important piece of art the projects the struggles the community faces while growing up and the evils of the caste system. It is a feature film that amplifies Dalit voices, providing them with a platform to share the injustices they’ve faced over the years.
Chauranga – A Hindi film that explores Dalit- Brahmin relations and how the Dalit community faces exploitation, it is an important social commentary that will help you understand caste dynamics and hierarchies in India. The film portrays the casualness with which caste practices, lived and accepted in our country while recounting the oppression the Dalit community faces in their day to day lives.
The list is by no means an exhaustive one. It has been curated to serve as a starting point for anyone who wished to educate themselves on the caste system to understand the #DalitLIvesMatter movement better.
If you have any further suggestions on readings, movies, research papers etc. that can contribute more to the cause, share them in the comments section below!