Dalit student Rohith Vemulas tragic suicide in January 2016 started many charged conversations around caste-based discrimination in universities in India. For Yashica Dutt, a journalist living in New York, this was the moment to stop living a lie, and admit to something that she had hidden from friends and colleagues for over a decadethat she was Dalit.
In Coming Out as Dalit, Dutt recounts the exhausting burden of living with the secret and how she was terrified of being found out. She talks about the tremendous feeling of empowerment she experienced when she finally stood up for herself and her community and shrugged off the fake upper-caste identity shed had to construct for herself. As she began to understand the inequities of the caste system, she also had to deal with the crushing guilt of denying her history and the struggles of her grandparents and the many Dalit reformers who fought for equal rights.
In this personal memoir that is also a narrative of the Dalits, she writes about the journey of coming to terms with her identity and takes us through the history of the Dalit movement; the consequences of her communitys lack of access to education and culture; the need for reservation; the paucity of Dalit voices in mainstream media; Dalit womens movements and their ongoing contributions; and attempts to answer crucial questions about caste and privilege. Woven from personal narratives from her own life as well as that of other Dalits, this book forces us to confront the injustices of caste and also serves as a call to action.
DATE: Friday, April 9, 2021
TIME: 9am Berkeley | 4pm London | 9pm Lahore | 9:30pm New Delhi | Calculate Your Local Time
This event will also be live streamed on the Institute's FB page: ISASatUCBerkeley
Yashica Dutt is a leading anti-caste journalist and the author of Coming Out as Dalit. She spent a decade covering arts, culture, and fashion in New Delhi and a lifetime hiding her Dalitness to pass as upper caste. Until she came out as Dalit in a Facebook note and wrote a book thats part non-fiction, part-memoir and wholly a scathing account of how the caste system operates and affects Dalits in todays India. Hint: brutally. Her work seeks to expose caste as the the invisible arm that turns the gears in nearly every system in India, and highlights why this issue needs urgent attention. While her voice has been instrumental in understanding the realities of caste as they exist globally and operate within the increasingly prominent Indian diaspora.
Coming Out as Dalit is her first book and has received immense critical acclaim from the press and the readers. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Foriegn Policy and the Atlanic and Coming Out as Dalit is currently being taught at several universities across the United States.
Dutt graduated from Columbia Journalism School and lives in New York.
The event is FREE and OPEN to the public.