Seattle becomes first city in US to ban caste discrimination
The Seattle City Council passed an ordinance adding caste to the list of protected classes in the city’s municipal code, along with groups like race, religion, and gender identity. Seattle created history by becoming the first US city to pass an explicit ban on caste-based discrimination.
Seattle bans caste discrimination: Key Points
- Caste-oppressed people in the city are permitted to file complaints of discrimination under the law, which forbids caste discrimination in employment, housing, public facilities, and other settings.
- Caste prejudice and discrimination could spread more widely in the US as a result of South Asians being one of the immigrant groups with the fastest rate of growth in the country.
- But because caste oppressed individuals are a minority inside a minority in the United States, people who aren’t from South Asia might not be aware of the nuanced dynamics at work.
- The matter is already moving through the courts: A former employee of Cisco Systems is scheduled to present evidence that he was subjected to caste-based discrimination.
- In Seattle, one of the nation’s leading tech hubs and the location of significant businesses with sizable South Asian immigrant workforces, caste is particularly important. Many witnesses discussed how caste has appeared in local businesses and other settings during public comment hearings and letters to the city council the week before the vote.
- The law was approved by the Seattle City Council 6-1.
- The measure was overwhelmingly supported by the large number of speakers who registered during the public comment period, regardless of race, religion, or caste.
- Workers from the dominant and disadvantaged castes, union members, political activists for progressive change, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims were among the supporters.
Casteism is a sneaky sort of prejudice that frequently exists in South Asian communities. People are divided into rigid divisions by the caste system, which is a social hierarchy, from birth, with those at the bottom of the ladder — many of whom self-identify as Dalits — on the lowest rung.
Those on the lowest rungs of the social hierarchy—many of whom self-identify as Dalits—are subject to slurs, discrimination, and even violence because of their caste identities.
The caste system is a rigid social hierarchy that divides people into categories at birth. Although the caste system has its roots in Hinduism and was first formed in ancient India, under centuries of Muslim and British domination, it evolved into its modern form and is now present in almost all South Asian nations and religious communities.
Caste discrimination was officially outlawed in India’s new constitution, which was written by a Dalit legal expert, when the country gained independence, but it is still a significant issue today.
Hindus of North America:
- The Coalition of Hindus of North America, the Hindu American Foundation, and the Vishva Hindu Parishad of America, among other organisations, opposed the ordinance despite its widespread support, claiming that it unfairly singled out Hindus and contributed to negative stereotypes about them.
- The Coalition of Hindus of North America, the Hindu American Foundation, and the Vishva Hindu Parishad of America, among other organisations, opposed the ordinance despite the fact that it was generally supported.
- They claimed that the legislation unfairly singled out Hindus and contributed to damaging misconceptions about them.
Caste has also become a protected status at a number of universities in recent years, including Brown University, the California State University system, Colby College, and Brandeis University.