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Statement of Solidarity with Dalit Feminist Author Yashica Dutt

February 2, 2024 


The UC Collective for Caste Abolition writes this statement in support of Dalit feminist author Yashica Dutt and all other Dalit women, queer, and trans people who are currently facing attacks by various people in communities they understand as their own, or by dominant caste people. In recent months, we have been particularly alarmed by the criticisms of  Mx. Dutt by some scholars and organizers hailing from the Dalit community and their savarna accomplices. 


We begin by acknowledging that all people, including members from marginalized communities, are not immune to the seductions of the symbolic, cultural, and material power structures within which we negotiate and make sense of our lives every day. Racism, casteism, misogyny, queer and transphobia are just as prevalent in marginalized communities as they are in dominant ones because we live within structures and systems that are meant to dismantle our sense of self, our communities, and our sense of belonging to them. These are the social competencies/frameworks through which people are understood and made sense of, and oppressed communities have the same meaning-making system as that of the oppressors, something clearly explained to us by Frantz Fanon and others. 


Attacks on Mx. Dutt and others are not just against individuals, but against the historical and political locations of the Dalit body which is differentiated through class, religion, sexuality, gender, caste, and citizenship status. In other words, these attacks are not isolated incidents of hate or anger towards specific Dalit women, but are part of the larger structures, languages, and politics from which they derive. With such an understanding comes a responsibility to  act with care before launching into social media facilitated and adjudicated cases against Dalit women, trans, and non-binary people. Allegations, insinuations, and charges that challenge one's Dalitness are meant to banish the target from political and civil society. These Dalit women are not considered Dalit enough, and consequently not even human enough because of class capital, family genealogies, or some perceived contradictions to dominant understandings and mistaken assertions of Dalitness as always damaged/broken. There are, often, constant efforts to ‘break’ these powerful Dalit folks, and sometimes from within the community itself. These efforts to police Dalitness, queerness, or any such oppressed identity further reproduce identity as a set of propertied relations to be (conditionally) claimed by a few, appropriating but dangerously misconstruing, the politics of identity laid out by the Combahee River Collective


In this moment of increasing racist, colonial, casteist, and Islamophobic violence against multiple communities around the world, we believe that an ethical anti-caste and abolitionist approach is the only way forward. Critiques that produce and reinforce carceral logics of alienation (from the self, family, and community), trauma, disposability, and erasure of the personhood of the subject of critique go beyond “attacks.” They steal the personhood of their  target. In so doing, they legitimize the casteist carceral logics of the Indian state and casteist societies around the world, and reinforce the very structures that threaten the dignity, livelihood, personhood, and future of Dalit women, queer, and trans people. They become the means to shore up Brahmanical patriarchy and the power of dominant caste society. 


We encourage the praxis of calling in rather than calling out, unless the person in question is actively creating harm for the colonized/caste-oppressed/Muslim/racialized communities. What we have witnessed in the context of attacks against Dalit women is social media bullying, measures taken to diminish their sources of income and their reputation, and fabricationschallenging their Dalitness. In many instances, it has been brought to our attention that these thefts of personhood against diasporic Dalit women have a lasting impact on their family’s physical and mental well-being in their countries of origin, especially in India, where caste is a site of active genocide. We can recount many examples and names here, but we believe that those who have engaged in such acts will be able to see themselves in our call for manuski (human dignity) of Dalit women and their/our communities. 


Lastly, with regards to the particular charge that Mx. Dutt mobilizes the language of “coming out” while not being queer (enough), it is worth noting that queer theory clearly teaches us that queerness is not about policing sexuality to determine who has the right fractions to claim non-heterosexuality. We understand queerness as more than simply non-het or non-cis identity but an abolitionist posture that challenges all forms of carcerality embodied by normativity, power, and hegemony. Therefore, Dalitness is queered in itself, and efforts to police the borders of queerness are antithetical to the radical project of queer politics as envisioned by the likes of Cathy Cohen. 


At the UC Collective for Caste Abolition, we believe in liberatory futures without prisons, police, or the tyranny of colonial gender systems and all other structures of dehumanization, such as the 3,000-year-old history of caste. We strongly believe in building coalitions and solidarities that transgress the disciplinary borders of movement spaces meant to keep us siloed and isolated. We are committed to struggling together for a world free of caste, carcerality, coloniality, Islamophobia, queerphobia, transphobia, and all interconnected systems of oppressions. We also firmly believe in kindness, something that is increasingly becoming impossible to experience in our world. 


UC Collective for Caste Abolition

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5 Comments


Thank you for this statement! This is a model for a statements of solidarity

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Thank you for this statement!

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Manu Kaur
Manu Kaur
Feb 02

👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

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