OAN’s Geraldyn Berry
1:09 PM – Thursday, May 11, 2023
A bill that would outlaw caste-based discrimination in the state of California has been passed by a large margin in the State’s Senate.
SB 403, sponsored by Senator Aisha Wahab, passed through the Senate with a vote of 34-1. It now heads to the State Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, and, if it passes, to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.), who reportedly has not had a public opinion on the measure.
“The more diverse California becomes and the United States becomes, we need to protect more people in the way the American dream was originally supposed to,” Wahab said in an interview.
The approval by the State Assembly and the governor will enable California to become the first state to preserve caste. In addition, with the passage of this measure, caste will be added to the list of protected classes, along with race and sex, in California’s current civil rights statute.
“There are so many people that want to heal from the trauma of caste,” Thenmozhi Soundararajan, a Dalit activist and the founder of the caste equity organization Equality Labs said. “What’s been incredible about this moment is to see these really beautiful inter-caste and interfaith alliances, groups that have all said that they’ve been harmed by caste and want freedom from it.”
In recent years, Soundararajan has been one of the driving forces behind a national movement to strengthen the rights of Dalits.
Dalits are those who were born within the caste system’s downtrodden classes in India. Even while India has outlawed rigid social stratification, its effects, according to supporters, are still very much present. Additionally, many claims to still experience marginalization, violence, and prejudice in diaspora groups in the United States.
Some Indian American organizations have come out against SB 403, claiming that adding protection against caste discrimination is unnecessary in the United States and that it discriminates against Indians and Hindus.
Wahab, on the other hand, claims that the measure is intended to safeguard people of all faiths, nations, and cultures. It has the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, MeToo International, and the California Labor Federation.
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