Seattle is first US city to ban caste-based discrimination, but activists aren’t stopping there

Seattle took woke one step further on Tuesday, going in search of a non-existent problem by becoming the first US city to ban discrimination based on a caste system that is prevalent in India but not here.

(Video Credit: KING 5 Seattle)

The Seattle City Council voted 6-1 to add caste as a protected category under its anti-discrimination laws, according to Fox News. The move was pushed by a socialist.

Activists on different sides of the issue began arriving in Seattle well ahead of the city council meeting. As early as last week, over 100 people had put in requests to speak at the meeting, according to Fox13.

Kshama Sawant, who is a member of the Socialist Alternative Party and is the only Indian American on the Seattle City Council, put out a petition before the vote that asserted “caste discrimination remains a largely hidden and unreported issue.”

“Caste discrimination is a widespread and increasingly grave contributor to workplace discrimination and bias faced by South Asian Americans and other immigrants—not just in other countries, but here in Seattle and across the United States,” the petition claimed.

“The fight against caste discrimination is deeply connected to the fight against all forms of oppression,” Sawant said according to Reuters.

“Caste discrimination doesn’t only take place in other countries. It is faced by South Asian American and other immigrant working people in their workplaces, including in the tech sector, in Seattle and in cities around the country,” Sawant declared when her office introduced the proposal to ban caste-based discrimination in Seattle.

A caste system is something that has never been an issue here in the United States. It’s a practice that dates back thousands of years in India, cementing an individual in a social class by birth. Even there, discrimination over the caste system was banned in 1948.

The majority of the affected communities live in or originate from South Asia, including India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, where many are known by the self-chosen identity of ‘Dalits,’ which means ‘those who have been broken but are resilient’ and others are indigenous or indentured community members,” the ordinance that was passed contends.

“Dalits” were also known as the “untouchables.”

The passage of the ordinance was met with intense pushback from Seattle residents. The Hindu American Foundation argued that a yes vote amounted to “discriminating against ethnic minorities.”

“Throughout our two decades of existence, HAF has maintained that caste discrimination is wrong, violating core Hindu principles of the divine oneness of all beings,” Hindu American Foundation Executive Director Suhag Shukla remarked in a statement. “At the same time, we maintain that the singling out of South Asians and addition of ‘caste’ to non-discrimination policy violates the very policies it now amends.”

Caste discrimination has been added to anti-discrimination policies at a number of colleges across the US, including the California State University System, Colby College, Brown University, and Brandeis University.

Sawant declared the passing of the ordinance as a “historic, first-in-the-nation ban” that will hopefully spread across the nation.

“Now we need to build a movement to spread this victory around the country,” she tweeted.

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